Webster’s dictionary defines friendship as a relationship where one knows, likes, admires and trusts another or where one is allied with another in a cause, or where one is a supporter of a group or a movement. I define friendship as a relationship between two people based on mutual respect, affection and admiration.
We can experience true friendship with people we know well and are close to for many years, or with people whose lives cross ours only briefly. True friendship is a way of relating to another human being.
There are times when friendship is not positive, when it is judgmental, shallow and dominating. Many years ago there was a classic movie, “Marty” which illustrates a shallow, judgmental relationship mistaken for true friendship. Marty is a 34 year old lonely bachelor who doesn’t make it with women. He describes himself as short, stocky and ugly, but a nice guy. He happens to meet a lonely, plain, nice woman named Clara at a pub, who is much like him. He experiences a wonderful evening filled with laughter, talking, friendship and a possible budding romance. When Marty returns to his friends, they find fault with her saying to Marty, “What a dog she is. Uglee! You didn’t even get a kiss out of her. Why waste time with a dog like that.” His friends influence him to go out with them instead of calling Clara which he really wants to do. Marty turns his back on Clara and the hope she represents, in order to keep the approval of his friends.
But what kind of friends are they? They are blind to Marty’s feelings. They are concerned only with their own pursuits. These so called friends are judgmental, demanding amd shallow.
There are times when we are confused about friendships. Why do we have this confusions about real friends? Perhaps we experience this confusion because we fear taking risks, facing rejection or being alone. How then do we develop real friendships? How do we make the kind of friend who is a comrade who shares the good and the bad times, to whom we can bare our hearts? What does it take to be a good friend?
To be a good friend, to make real friendships, we need to take specific actions and make them a regular part of our daily lives.
A true friend listens well, attentively and lets the other person know his/her willingness to try and understand him/her. The process of listening requires sensitivity and insight, to see beyond the words spoken and uncover hidden feelings.
Being a true friend requires honesty, which at times, means giving and accepting criticism. However, we must be careful not to criticize harshly or embarrass a friend in public.
Being a true friend requires us to admit to mistakes and say, “I was wrong, forgive me.”
Being a true friend requires us to be there for another sharing not only the happy and successful moments but the moments of pain and tears.
Being a true friend means realizing that there may be times to step back and keep silent — just to be there without intruding.
Ralph Waldo Emersoin offered the best advice about true friendship: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”