Photo credit: Joseph Pearson, Unsplash.com
What’s your own definition? Write a list of five qualities that are important in a friend.
How do you meet friends? How do you build relationships? How do you deal with their loss?
Friendship tends to be one of the most important relations in our life; we don’t choose our family, but we choose our friends, right? We may fall out of love with our partner, yet a friend will always be there. So it’s perfectly normal that we put a lot into friendships and sometimes it becomes highly emotional.
A recent trip made me think in a completely new way about what friendship is or may/should be. It made me realize that my own definition’s overrated, as well as obsolete. This makes sense as, like most of us, we use a definition that stems from the way we’ve been raised — from our education, family beliefs, competitiveness, etc.
So here was my old definition:
One of my top values is loyalty. Lke many of us, I was mistaking loyalty with: “No matter what my friend’s doing, I’ll stand by him/her no matter what he/she’s doing to me. I shall take on the burden and be a loyal friend.”
Friendship was linked to how much support I’d get from you in times of strife. I was so afraid of not having anyone near me when I would fall, and yet, most of the time, someone’s hand will be there to catch you. Sometimes a stranger, or an angel, invisible (and yet there).
As strange or stressful as it may seem, sometimes we do fall and there’s no one there. Yet those are the times when we grow and we become a better person, able to deeply understand our life purpose.
Ø RECIPROCITY (by keeping an accounting book):
I did that for you, now what’ve you done for me? I offer you this gift, what did you offer me, right?
We tend to look for reciprocity. What if we looked less in a mathematical quantitative way, and simply with joy? Maybe a hug’s more important at some point in time than any other gift.
Not all of us have the same way of showing love and care, but the main question remains: did you feel that love and care in whatever gesture your friend has done for you, or do you believe he or she’s not making the effort since they don’t act like you would have?
I asked myself this question: how do you feel when you’re with your friends? Do you feel joy, do you feel compassion, do you feel care? Or do you simply feel angry, judged, insufficient, trying to please them no matter what out of fear of losing them and becoming alone? Are you able to speak the truth? Do you feel guilty, like you let them down?
Be honest, what do you really feel?
So, having said all that, here are my updated Five Characteristics of Friendship:
1. Being Myself
It’s not about how often we get to see each other, it’s the quality time we share together.
I know that I have real friends that I can’t see or speak with as often as I’d want (as we don’t live in the same place), yet when we see each other there’s an immediate connection: I’m home.
2. Enjoying Each Other’s Company
I think this is the most important one for me right now. What do I truly feel when I meet my friend? When I talk with him/her what do I want to feel? Am I in a secure/compassionate/joyful place? It’s not about making anyone happy, it’s about being happy in your friend’s company.
Friends can speak with each other from their heart, with no fear and no judgment.
It’s not about the amount of feedback, it’s about how this feedback is given as well as how we’re able to share what’s important for us and for our friendships, and why.
4. Genuine Care
This seems so obvious, but it’s about that feeling when someone cares for you from deep down in their heart. Feeling the love they have for you. Feeling the bliss they want for you.
Healthy friendships are built on strong foundations, and trust is one of those. Nothing more to say.
The courage of having a real look at your friendships, understanding what they bring to your life or what cost it’s been for you to maintain them, in an emotionally detached way, is the key to having healthy and strong friendships.
Have a look and see how this works for you, and no matter how scary it may seem, or how lonely you may feel, you’ll definitely get to realize the freedom that comes when you can be yourself and enjoy the splendors of life with real friends.
Share this message… preferably with a good friend!
Also published on Medium.