People tend to play fast and loose with the term friendship. I have a habit of watching how people interact with others. I like to see who an individual calls friend and how they treat that person (or persons). What amazes me is how quickly one will call someone their friend. And just how quickly one will strip that title away. I’ve seen individuals consider every acquaintance a friend, or even someone they clearly do not like. Just to be able to say they have a lot of friends. I also question when people strike up internet “relationships” with others. Long term social networking (or phone) dialogues that somehow result in a friendship. With most of these the two parties may have never even met, or have met only a couple of times. The reason why I question these relationships is because most of us are different on the net than we are IRL (in real life). Many will only show one side of them, what they want others to see. So it’s almost impossible to have a true understanding of how a person truly is if you are only interacting with them through technology. Granted there are some exceptions. But for most cases my point still stands. Another questionable relationship are two “friends” that sleep together. I shouldn’t even have to explain this one, but it happens so often that I do. There is friendship and then there is romance (or sex). One can have a romantic relationship with someone (SO, spouse, someone they’re dating, etc) who they respect and treat as their friend. However one cannot have a friend who they also happen to sleep with. In my opinion it is one or the other, there is no gray area. Lack of boundaries or blurred lines tend to make things messy and complicated.
As for me I’m completely picky about who I consider my friend. I am extremely loyal by nature. Almost to a fault. If I’m for you, I’m for you. End of story. With such a characteristic I understand that it’s important for me to be careful of who I get close to so as not to be taken advantage of.
I decided to write this post because over the past two weeks I’ve been examining my relationships with others, mainly my friendships. It’s natural to have occasional issues with your friends. However I have this habit of shutting down and/or cutting folks off when the conflict reaches a certain level. The thing about me, is that once I reach the point of shutting down it’s all but impossible to draw me back in. At times this is necessary, especially if the friendship is toxic. Other times, I cut the friendship prematurely when things could have been worked out. A figure that some reflection on friendship would help me to find balance between the two extremes of total loyalty vs complete apathy.
While meditating on this I’ve defined what friendship means to me. First and foremost a friend is someone you can trust. You can trust them to be there when you need them. You can trust their words and deeds. A friend understands you. Or even if they don’t they at least make the attempt to try to understand you. Friends communicate with each other. When you express yourself to a friend you should have a reasonable expectation that you will be heard. A friendship is not perfect, people are not perfect. There will be disagreements. However a friendship should never be heavily affected by small, petty grievances. Much less ended over them. Friends are 100% supportive, they want to see you happy and well. Friends tell you what you need to hear, never what you want to hear. And lastly, friendships are not a one-sided relationship. If one party is playing the role of the friend more often than the other, there is an imbalance present.
This is my definition of friendship. The paradigm I will be using when examining my friendships with others. I wonder how others define friendship.