A post on friendship floated into my orbit on LinkedIn. It asked, “If true friendship has the same definition for everyone, or is it something else?” It was a poorly worded question in my view, but I engaged by stating the latter. At this point, I was asked to provide extra detail by the post’s author. I suppose the thought process, was to bait responses to draw greater interaction. I respectfully declined further comment…
What Is A True Friendship?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a friend, is a person that one likes and knows well. Friendship therefore, is the name for the dynamic between friends.
Respect, encouragement, support (Not the same thing), empathy, honesty, humour and kindness are the building blocks of any friendship. Combining these traits at a higher level creates a true friendship. Thus true friendship is uncommon and yet; it isn’t all that rare either.
What do I mean by that? Being a true friend to someone usually attracts the same in return. Therefore, it’s within your power to be what you seek. What’s rare in actuality; is any sane person turning spiteful toward someone displaying these traits.
Healthy Friendship Choices
From childhood I was constantly surrounded by the greatest friends a guy could ask for. In fact, I am still in regular contact with many of the friends I made growing up. Whether friends from primary to high school, college to university, and throughout my career as a professional. The common denominator in these friendships is bringing the exact qualities I seek to the table.
Common Traits In Healthy Friendships
• Being able to detect intent
• Visible in important moments
• Free from manipulation
• No resentment/unhealthy competition
• Loyalty by default
• Honesty is valued over diplomacy…
You can’t ask for trustworthy friends if all you do is lie to them. You can’t expect supportive friends, if you’re unwilling to be there for them too. As much as making friends is important, it’s even more vital to choose the right ones. They most definitely don’t have to be replicas of each other. You’ll have more in common with some and less with others. That does not mean it isn’t a true friendship.
This article emphasises the importance of a mutual friendship. Please, do not mistake this for what you have to offer someone materially. For instance, in a scenario where you earn 20 and your friend earns 8. If you kindly decide to buy a gift for 2.5, don’t expect exactly the same in return. That’s not reciprocity. The financial situations are clearly unbalanced. However, if you are kind to this friend and they are also kind to you, you have reciprocity. You have the confidence of knowing that they care about you the same as you for them. Kindness, empathy and support are not all about material things. You call to check in and see how things are; they should do the same. This is the spirit of reciprocity…
Being Able To Detect Intent
You can speak in your own vernacular. I have friendships where we insult each other like enemies for laughs. It’s how we communicate. In the context of our friendship, outsiders might not understand it; but we sure do. Can you tell when something is meant as a joke vs. a genuine insult? Can you tell a critique different from jealousy? If the answer is no, then you might have a ‘Frenemy’ (enemy disguised as a friend) instead of a true friend. When your friend says, “Everything is good…” can you tell when it’s not the truth?
Visible In Important Moments
I don’t mean you become a professional athlete and they only attend the championship game. No! I mean they were there long before things were on an upward trajectory. Let me rephrase, if things were to go south they would be there. If things did go south before, they were there to lend a hand/shoulder. Your true friends don’t just show up for the party…
Free From Manipulation
True friends don’t emotionally blackmail each other. They don’t hang things over your head, or have you staring down the end of a metaphorical gun. They won’t threaten to embarrass you or backstab you because they want something. True friends definitely will not seek to tarnish your reputation maliciously for revenge or attention. Your true friends not only know where the metaphorical bodies are hidden; they helped you bury them…
No Resentment/Unhealthy Competition
Sharing interests with your friends shouldn’t cause resentment towards the more successful of the two. On the flip side the person in the better position should not use it as a weapon against their friend. That is unhealthy competition and not even close to a true friendship. Success does not make enemies of true friends.
Loyalty By Default
A true friendship comes with loyalty pre-installed. It’s not DLC; it’s not something you complete the game to unlock. If you’re the type to throw your friends under the bus, you don’t deserve friends. If your friends don’t show you loyalty, they’re not your friends. This is a prerequisite in a true friendship. You can’t bury your head in the sand and leave your friends exposed. Loyalty keeps true friendship alive.
Honesty > Diplomacy
In a true friendship honesty is greater than diplomacy. Friends trust the thoughts and opinions of other friends. If you’re withholding the truth to protect your friendship, you’re not really being a true friend. If you need the truth from your friends and all they offer up is a sugar-coated pill, your friendship is shallow. Surface level friendships never last. I would rather someone honestly tell me they hate something I’ve done than fake cheerlead for me. Imagine gaining false confidence, only for a stranger to tell you in anger what your friend should have with love. You grow from honesty, you learn the limits of your pride and you become better.
As always here, your input is welcome. If there is anything I missed drop a comment below. If you have true friends, share this article with them or better yet, leave a shout out in the comments before you do. Thank you again for making it Written Mirror…