The What, Why and How
What is Friendship?
I believe friendship is a loving bond that enriches the lives of all who partake. It is a special connection between people that has at its core both affection and respect.
When we say to someone that we want to be their friend, we are, in effect, saying that we want to learn more about that person, to share personal knowledge and insights with them, and to be there in times of sorrow and in times of joy.
Why Have a Friend?
Having a friend enriches your life and helps you become a better person. You learn things about the world, others and yourself. You see your friend’s world view and witness how he/she achieves goals and handles life; and, in turn, you gain insight into your own world view, what you do in various situations, and how you respond.
I believe the ultimate gift of friendship is having the ability to give and receive love. By love I mean the caring, compassionate kind—not the romantic kind—which has as its purpose the joining of two hearts.
This is where friendship becomes tricky. Do we love our self enough to accept the love of a friend? If we do not love our self, we will not allow our friend to love us and will keep them and their affection at a distance from us. How can we give back to them what we do not possess in the first place?
How to Make a Friend
To make a real friend, a person must show their inner self, the self he/she is when alone and not putting on a disguise for the world. In this way, the other person can see your humanity and can, if they are being authentic too, relate to you and find that special connection.
It is a beautiful thing to reveal oneself to another and have that person say they like you and want to be your friend. When this happens, we feel validated and accepted for who we are. This acceptance makes us feel like we belong in the world and are a part of a greater human family.
How to Keep a Friend
Friendships, like all human relationships, require a great deal of work. It is not simply a matter of finding someone you like and spending time together. For a friendship to succeed, there must be a caring, respectful balance between both people.
I’ve had many friends over the years, but few who have remained active in my life. Some have departed from me while others I chose to depart from.
For those who have left me, I have had to look at myself candidly in the mirror and see where I might have gone wrong. Rarely will a person tell you why they no longer wish to remain close. Some will, in which case you can learn and improve from the knowledge, or if the reason is unjustifiable, you can at least know that the other person is not able to maintain the friendship for reasons they themselves do not understand.
I had one friend who became irate with me because she felt that I was not there to help her at all times. I have a personal life with issues and problems of my own. She did not seek an explanation from me because, in truth, she did not care. That, I sensed all along, but never wanted to admit. She never delved into the why and wherefore of my life and my sorrows, or my hopes and my dreams.
For the friends that I let go, there were three major reasons: 1) I felt insecure and doubted that the other person truly liked me (I often do not like myself); 2) I was not being seen and accepted for my true self and found it tiring to conform into the kind of person my friend was seeking; or 3) I felt an imbalance in the relationship and resented the fact that I was always on the giving side of emotional support. Unfortunately, when I perceive these developments, I tend to keep it inside and eventually remove myself from the friendship.
Not communicating is something I want to change. I feel it is important to talk to your friend and tell them what you are feeling and why you do not want to spend time with them. Not only will your friend benefit from this disclosure, but you will feel better and lighter of heart for having shared your feelings. Their response may even surprise you. They may offer to work on establishing a better, more balanced, real and healthy relationship with you. In this case, you may find yourself remaining their friend.
Friends should not be in our lives to fill an emptiness, but rather to comfort and share some part of our life with us. Friendship should be a sharing relationship in which we benefit by experiencing the affection of another and feeling less alone on this planet.
At this point in my life, I am more philosophical about making and keeping friends. Length of time is not a good way to measure the value of a friendship. I’ve enjoyed having friends for just a few hours when I travel and meet new people. Other friends have been in my life for many years. Some people will be there with you on your life’s journey while others will take a turn in the road and go in a different direction. There is nothing wrong with this. What is of importance is that both people are mutually caring, respectful and honest with each other, and that both want the best for the other person.