What Friendship Will Stand the Test of Time?
What is Friendship?
After reading some interesting hubs on friendship, I thought I would write about my friendships; about their quality and depth and how they nurture and provide "something" other casual day to day relationships do not. This is my unique perspective on how I made and kept friends over the years.
Circles of Friendship...
I have "circles of friends". As an example, picture a bullseye with self in the center and various levels of friends in the circles radiating from that center. My circles of friends!The closer to me, the deeper the friendships are and the fewer the friends. That is where my family and childhood friends I have had forever are. I would say if you have a childhood friend that lasted the test of time, that is a valuable friend. Those friends are like brothers and sisters. They are your family, even if you are not related! They know where you came from, who you are, what you were like as a child and you both have shared various experiences in life as you grew up...you share common ground! No need to explain to them who you are!
My childhood friends; each one is my best friend. They are the friends I rarely argue with. I trust them and I can say, I love them. The childhood friends are the ones that can see my place in a mess and I am not disturbed. I can tell them a problem and know they will be keep it secret. I know they will listen with a sympathetic ear and never be overly critical or jealous of me. We are each other's cheering committees! We enjoy being in each other's company. We have laughed through relationships and cried through our losses of our loved ones. We are there for each other. What else can I say? These friendships rock!
I recently attended my older cousin's memorial and his childhood friends were in attendance. One of his friends had passed away in previous years, but his widow and son were there...because he and his wife had kept her as a part of their inner circle even thirteen years after his buddy had passed away! The other friends were also there. Lifelong buddies...I remember how my cousin always kept in touch with his friends through the years. I got up and in my eulogy to this wonderful man, I stated how his friendships were a role model for my lifelong friendships. Perhaps we learn how to make friends watching our family make friends!
Friends One Level Out from Childhood Friends
I have friends who have developed along the way. My adult friends. Most have developed from places I have worked or as a result of work relationships. One never knows which ones will stick; some blossom for a time and fade away. Others persevere and come close to being like childhood friends.
One friend in particular stands out. We were close, or so I thought. I listened to her troubles and I guess I thought she listened to mine. She was different from me, but I valued her differences, it gave me another perspective on life. She was the one with the expensive perfumes ( a habit which I adopted) and very fancy home (a habit I couldn't afford). She frequented expensive restaurants (something I shared with her for awhile). We explored quaint little expensive shops all over Ontario as outings we both seemed to enjoy.
Then my life changed. I could no longer afford to be her friend. Then I realized how superficial the friendship actually was. I discovered she wasn't too concerned if I could afford something. At least, that was how I perceived it. I dropped the friendship, sadly acknowledging we didn't have what it takes to go the distance. However, I did enjoy the friendship, while it lasted. It just wasn't meant to last. I had not changed, but my perception of this friend had changed.
Other friends started out as casual acquaintances from work. We used to gather for a "Girl's night out". Twenty years later we still keep in touch. The contact is sporadic, but heartfelt. It seems life is too busy to keep in constant contact, but we manage over the years and over the miles to get together once in a while!
Casual friends help pass the time
On the outer fringes are the people that seem to be friends. Well, on some days they are, others they are not. Sometimes they care and other times they don't. It depends on which way the wind blows that day.
Now, there is value in these friendships. They keep you from getting lonely and they keep you active and participating. Nothing wrong there. We can't be all active in the life of everyone we meet. It would just be too darn tiring and time consuming. After all, we all have our own lives to live and there are only twenty four hours to each day and most of us have to spend a good portion of that working and sleeping!
However, no matter what the level of friendship, friends are still one of the blessings in life!
Tips to finding and being a good friend
There are many ways to find and be a good friend.
As with all relationship, chemistry also is at work in platonic friendships. This is not the same chemistry as in a "love" relationship, but there has to be something attractive to you and vise versa. For instance, you admire something the other person does or how they behave. You won't want to be friends with someone who is rude and embarrassing unless you admire those traits! My friends are known for their sense of humor. It is something I admire since I can never remember a punch line to a joke myself!
As a child, it may be wonderful to hang around with the most popular kids on the block, but the friendships form unbidden and not determined by popularity which is something like an adult hanging around the rich and famous, but enjoying the company of more ordinary friends who are just plain fun or interesting to be around while on a camping trip!
There are just as many ways to be a good friend as there are different kinds of friendships but good common sense prevails... you have to be a good friend yourself
...and what is a good friend?
A friend has learned to listen. Unless the other person is so introverted they won't talk, they will want to put in their opinion once in awhile and you have to listen...not just pause for a breath of air while thinking about what you will say once you can grab the spotlight away. Remember dialogue...not monologue!
Respect the other person. That means their time, their opinions, their choices. While sometimes a good friend needs to say something use your big mouth sparingly. Even though we all think we are perfect perhaps your friend sees your imperfections and likes you just the way you are, warts and all. Of course, we are not talking about "you" personally... just someone else!
- While you don't have to be a doormat, be there for the important times in their lives if at all possible. You never know when you will need them to be there for you! Note: this does not mean being there for all your friends all the time...just be there when it really counts.
- Have boundaries. Just because you are really close you do not have to know every little detail of their lives as they do not need to know absolutely everything about you. Ever heard the phrase "familiarity breeds contempt". Keep a little mystery there, you are not married and they are not your parent after all. Note: Yes, you can be married to your best friend...but that is another hub subject!
- I find the best friends are the ones that don't have constant expectations. On the other hand, there are some rules...like if you can't invite your friend to dinner and you are constantly dining at their home it is nice to do something nice for them in return. Only you know what would be nice... because you know them well enough since you have been listening!