Recently, a life event and Simon Sinek’s Askmen.com discussion on true friendship inspired me to pen this blog. Two questions came to mind: What is a true friendship? What makes your friends your friends?
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t use the word “friend” loosely. In fact, I use it sparingly like saying “I love you.” IMHO, a true friend is someone who understands, respects, values, loves, and is vulnerable with you. Time and distance doesn’t play a major factor in your relationship—in fact, these things only show the strength of your bond.
For example, my best friend (of nearly 15 years), Mark, and I have an unspoken bond where we are brutally honest and open, and have a mutual love and respect for each other. Even though there is nearly 800 miles separating us, we don’t need constant contact to know that we’ll always be there for one another. He knows that I’ll give my all to see that he’s happy and healthy. And I know he’ll give it to me straight when I’m acting silly. Above all, we are there when it counts the most and accepted each other for who we are.
Over the years, I’ve assumed a few people were my friend, but they didn’t share or show that sentiment about me. It’s important to know the difference between a friend and an acquaintance. To me, a true friendship doesn’t solely rely on impromptu favors, good times, venting sessions, and convenience. There is an element of selflessness to being a true friend and not many people recognize that.
And for those “friends” that don’t exactly meet the above expectation, I invest no more than they do in our relationship. A ROI is an important aspect that people shouldn’t overlook. I mean this from a place of self-interest/survival. To spare yourself heartache, you should evaluate the significance of every relationship and it’s position in your life. As for acquaintances, they have their place and they aren’t privy to the more vulnerable parts of me.
A true friend will know better than to take advantage of you or take you entirely for granted. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but if it happens too often…well, then you’ll need to re-evaluate your friendship status. Comic writer/editor Len Wein said it best, “A true friend is someone who is there for you when he’d rather be anywhere else.”
With the enormous evolution of social media over the last decade, the definition of a true friendship gets lost in the fray of the world. The lesson to learn is more of a reminder: Don’t confuse weak bonds you have with some with strong bonds of a true friend. Sometimes, you have to run people you’ve labeled “friend” through a filter to realize what you truly have. This isn’t a bad thing because, in the end, you have a clearer understanding of the ones to value even more.
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