From an early age, people have a natural tendency to develop friendships with other people. These friendships continue to form, grow, strengthen, lessen and end all throughout our lives. But why is that? Why do we have some friends that we are closer to than others, and how do we know which friends are good for us and which ones are not?
For starters, we need to assess what a friendship actually is. You may think it’s someone to talk to when you’re down or go to the movies with, and you’re right, but what makes you want to do those things with that person in the first place? A friend is someone who you have a connection with. It’s someone who shares similar interests, but not necessarily all of the same ones.
Most importantly, friends are people who you have an openhearted connection with, and whom you can trust and be honest with no matter what. There are also different levels of friendship; not everyone can be your best friend! The depth of a friendship is determined by the level of trust you have in them. Close friends may be people who you would tell your deepest, darkest secret to, while others may be people you want to go to a baseball game with but wouldn’t necessarily talk about family issues. That’s the social aspect versus the soul aspect of friendship.
So why do we want friends? It’s more so that we need friends. We as humans need relationships with other people, we need social interaction, we need other people to help us identify ourselves and determine right from wrong. Friends balance us and provide support and stability in our lives. They can bring us happiness, excitement and comfort, and inspire us to achieve our goals.
There has to be a balance in a friendship, a balance between giving and taking. You can’t just always talk about your problems and never ask about your friend’s, or always let your friend pay the bill and never offer to pick up the tab for lunch. There has to be a balance between giving and taking. The same thing goes for the way your friends act too. You need to be able to assess what friends you have balance with and what friends are just takers.
To assess your friendships, take inventory of your friends and ask yourself, “What does this person bring to the table in my life? What is their purpose in my life?” This goes back to the social versus soul aspect of friends, but also, introduces a new category: friendships that just aren’t working out.
Maybe you argue a lot with this friend, or feel like you can’t trust them or like they use you; this is when you have to evaluate that friendship and how it affects your life. If that friend is bringing nothing to the table, making you feel bad or wasting your time, you need to ask yourself, “Is it me, or them?” You shouldn’t just go and cut them off cold turkey; just because you don’t share the same characteristics or values today, it doesn’t mean later down the road you won’t. But if they are putting a damper on your life and causing you to be unhappy, you may want to consider distancing yourself from them. But try to faze them out as opposed to completely eliminating them.
Friendships typically happen naturally, but what if you want to find new, good friends? First of all, you have to know yourself, and know what you’re looking for in a friend. What many people don’t understand is that you don’t need more people to feel friendship, you need more purpose in those people. You can have all the friends in the world, but without those special connections with certain people, your need for human relationships and interaction will never be fulfilled.
It’s best to go with your gut and your heart at first when you meet someone new. Do you feel like that person will be someone you can trust and enjoy being around? Do you share similar characteristics, beliefs and ideas? What do you want from this person and what do they want from you? These are all questions you should ask yourself, and be able to answer in order to find and determine good friends.
Overall, you should appreciate and respect the friends you have, because without them, life would be a very confusing and isolated place. Your friends are a special kind of family so cherish and think of them every day.