The Journey Continues – Friendship

Friends 2

What is friendship? What makes a good friend? Do we need a lot of friends or just one good one or do we need any at all? These may be some very good questions that people continue to seek answers for, but, the truth is, the answers are as diverse as each of us.

When I was in grade school, we moved a lot. It hardly gave me a chance to make lasting friendships. By the time we settled in a house for five years, I had become so shy and introverted, from being uprooted, that it still was difficult for me to make friends.

I was never one to have a bunch of friends at one time. I had one good friend, for as long as that lasted, and then another good friend, etc. The other thing that I recognize is that I usually became friends with the kids that were considered a little different. I guess, even then, I realized I was different too.

But what is a friend? How does that differ from an acquaintance? Well, you know me, I headed to the dictionary to see what it had to say: A friend is, “A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” Meanwhile, an acquaintance is, “ a person recognized by sight or someone known, though not intimately.”

The world has changed a lot since I was young. I believe we have even changed the meaning of who we consider to be a “friend.” I also believe, because of this change in definition, we have opened ourselves to some hurt and possible betrayal.

When I think of the qualities of a real friend, I think of loyalty, trust, understanding, honesty, and caring. I also give those qualities in any friendships I have. That’s not always true though in today’s world. Because we have “lowered the bar” on what qualifies as a friendship, we have actually incorporated those persons whom we know little about and are, in fact, acquaintances. These are people who we may have never even met and have no idea if there are any of the above mentioned qualities existing between us. Is it no wonder we end up feeling betrayed or hurt?

Having a good friendship takes as much, if not more. work as having an intimate, partner relationship. This is someone you share secrets with that you wouldn’t tell anyone else, maybe not even your partner, knowing they would never tell anyone, not even their partner. This is someone you know has your back and you have theirs – no doubt. This, to me, defines a “best” friend. While other friends may share interests, be there to help (and you help them), and you may enjoy each other’s company, you don’t feel the trust and the loyalty that you do with a best friend.

If you take one step further away from this, you come to the people that you may call friends but are actually acquaintances. These can be co-workers that you only see at work or “friends” on Facebook or some other social media site that you haven’t even really met. Perhaps you do share a few similar interests and have even gone to a movie or event with, but you’re hardly close and you have no idea whether this is someone who would keep your “secrets” or have your back.

Having lost the intimacy of face-to-face meetings with other people, we have lost our ability to create and maintain good friendships and find real best friends. Yes, I realize the world is a much busier place in 2019 than it was in 1969 or 1979, but, still, is it not worth taking the time to actually, physically meet someone and get to know them before we decide if we’ve found a friend or not? I don’t mean just one meeting either. The decision of real friendship can’t be made in one meeting any more than the decision of “this is the person I want to marry” can truly be made on a first date. It takes time…and nurturing…to develop a real friendship with someone.

Some of you may blow off what I’m saying. After all, I am 71. Here’s the thing – I’ve had a LOT of friendships in those years. While I speak from my own personal experience and can only speak from my perspective, I am just as human as you. I have had failures and successes where friendships are concerned. I have known the feelings of betrayal and hurt. I’ve probably unknowingly or unintentionally created some of those feelings in those who I called “friend.” Having good friendships and being a good friend takes work.

One other thing you should consider, where friendships are concerned, is why? Do you seek friends because of a need for approval? Do you seek friends because of loneliness? Do you want just one good friend or do you feel you need many? Often there are some important answers that lie within the responses to those questions. It may even tell you why you find the friends you pick to be disappointments or why you end up hurt and feeling betrayed.

It’s not only what the other person brings to the table of friendship, but what you yourself bring that determines the kind of friendship that will result from the interaction between both of you. If what you bring to the table is purely neediness, then you may find your friendships to be short-lived or filled with hurt and misunderstanding. If what you bring to a possible relationship is the same as what you seek – trust, loyalty, honesty, understanding, and caring – then, providing these are the things the other person brings with them, a good friendship may be in the making. Just something to think about.

Times may change; people may change; but I really, truly don’t believe what makes a good friendship ever changes. Humans seek companionship. We seek to share our joys, our sorrows, and our adventures through this life with a friend or friends with whom we feel safe, secure, cared about, and understood.

May the path to friendship lead you to exactly who you’ve been searching for and may they delight in having found you as well!

Friendship 6

Love & Blessed Be

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