I remember watching Big Bang Theory and Sheldon was looking for input on how to make friends. Throughout the episode he initially approached this as an equation that needed solving. Later he conducted surveys and also consulted books on how to make friends. At this stage in my life, I have very few people I actually call a friend. Personally I think the term is used too loosely. Throughout my life I had extended periods where I had no friends and other times, like now, where I have only a few. Websites such as facebook where people have hundreds of friends are ridiculous. Really? I wonder then how some of these people define friends, which lead me to think about how I define friends.
I think it comes down to your personal definition. We are all wonderfully unique, and my definition of a friend can and will be different to that of someone else. So I am going to try and articulate what it is that makes someone a friend, from my perspective. In this I will reflect on qualities I look for in others and qualities I know I have within myself.
Truth. With regard to truth, I refer to the most intimate version of it, being true to ones self. Accept all your good and bad qualities, acknowledge that you have them, understand and accept that you are unique. Being true to yourself is at the core of friendship. I strongly believe that an observer, someone other than yourself, would be able to see if you were not true to yourself.
Honesty. Differentiated from truth, honesty exists between yourself and your friend. It is the foundation of your communication.
Acceptance. Part of acceptance, stems from the truth of yourself. Understanding that whomever the friend is, having embraced truth, that you accept who they are. Friendships will exist at different levels on intimacy, the level of detailed and honest disclosure of one friend to another. They have taken truth, communicated honestly and you accept your friend.
Generosity. When I first thought about generosity, what first came to mind was that of the financial kind. We live in a world driven by money and being able to help in this regard, can alter the life of friend in profound ways. As I thought more about this I came to the realization that financial was in truth a rather minor aspect. If you are happy and joyful, and your friend can hear in your words, in your writings the joy that is within you, you can make someone smile and lift them up in a way that isn’t otherwise possible. Hope, joy, happiness; when all these emotions are welling up with in you, you can affect the life of a friend and give them some of that feeling, a feeling that they themselves may not be feeling presently.
Trust. This can take on so many guises that I’m not even sure myself. If I disclose something of a personal nature, I do so under the premise of trust, that it will not be further disclosed under any condition. When I say I will perform or agree to a certain action, you in turn trust that I will carry through with said action. I guess trust is a combination of the preceding qualities.
Love. Its everything rolled up into one, and its unconditional. I remember at school always hearing the words “I’ll be your friend if….”. There is both explicit and implicit conditional love and having been on the receiving end of both types, I can wholly appreciate that what ever that relationship is; it is not friendship. I don’t think love can exist between friends if the preceding qualities don’t exist.
Sheldons’ pursuit for friendship was oriented around personal gain. My own experiences differ greatly from Sheldons’ and I understand that friendship is not an equation, it can’t be expressed as a flow chart or a diagram. Friendship is an evolving intangible dynamic between two people. The key qualities of truth, honesty, acceptance, trust and love may not all be present at the beginning. With care and nurturing they can be awakened. Over time as each of us evolves and grows, these qualities will grow and flourish and what will result will be a wonderful friendship.
I did have some guidance and advice in writing this, and I thank Bianca for her help. You can reach her blog at http://bgbowers.com/