Friday, 29 May 2009

What is a friend?

Someone posted this question on one of the forums (fora?) I read and it set me thinking. I would say that I've had my share of friends, some close, some not so close, some who I remember with fondness and pleasure and some that I . . . don't now! What makes some people 'friends' and others just people you know?
Put at its very simplest, to *have* a friend, one must *be* a friend, but what does that actually look like?

I think a friend is just someone you get along with, someone you like - sounds so obvious, doesn't it? Sometimes it's because of shared experiences, sometimes because experiences have been very different. Sometimes it's a shared sense of humour or a similar way of viewing the world, sometimes because your different views and experiences mesh together. It's hard to define that 'buzz', that something that you feel when you're with a friend, that sense of being comfortable and relaxed in each other's company. If you can sit in companionable silence with someone with no pressure to say or do anything, I guess they're a friend! You're at ease in each other's company
I'd put acceptance right up there at the top too. A friend accepts you where you are and for what you are. A friend accepts that you may like and be friendly with people who they do not like but that's OK - they will never put you in the difficult position of having to choose, because they accept you for what you are and know that you accept that they do not share the same view. I guess possessiveness is a real threat to friendship, as is jealousy. If those emotions are part of the relationship, then it's on very shaky ground, I think. A friend is OK about sharing, realising that being friendly with someone else doesn't dilute the friendship in the slightest.
Friends are OK about saying 'sorry' to each other. They will understand that things can hurt and that 'sorry' can make all the difference, wherever the fault may lie, that's it's not necessarily an admission of being in the 'wrong' but an expression of regret for a hurt. A friend will not be afraid to challenge misunderstanding, will understand that there's always at least two sides to a story and will listen 'when you speak your name'.
A friend will make time for you, not just when you or they want something. A friend will think that you are important, you are worthwhile. A friend will share something of him/herself with you, make him/herself vulnerable to you.
It's about giving and taking, sharing and revealing, being equal but not the same.

I quoted from a child's song above - the chorus to that song is lovely:
'I will bring to you
The best things I can offer
I will sing to you
The best things in my mind.'

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