Sunday: 25.June.2006

Friendship

Just read about a (35-year) Duke University study which claims Americans' circle of close friends is shrinking. (Notice the word: close.)

found this report noteworthy cuz I just started reading a new book titled: A Thousand Paths to Friendship, which contains hundreds (thousands?) of quotes on the topic of Friendship.

If you're a regular, you know I've been dropping an occasional quote from this book. Not sure why I started doing this; it just felt like the right thing to do.

Many of the quotes published in the book use the phrase "true friend," which (I assume) implies the existence of friends who are less-than-true, or untrue (false). Mere acquaintances, perhaps.

For me, true friendship (as referenced in the book) boils down to one thing:
trust
. You can trust a true friend with things you simply can't share with anyone else.

And if you can't trust a friend with your most intimate secrets, are they really a friend? How far can you go with someone you can't trust? .. or depend on?

Things I learned at my recent Co-parenting classes (taught by PhD's) seem to support these ideas.

continued

Another indicator of 'true' friendship, I contend, is that true friends are genuinely
happy for you
when good things come your way .. when fortune smiles on you .. whereas a lesser 'friend' might exhibit signs of jealousy or envy.

I am certainly no expert on friendship. It's never been easy for me to develop close friendships (one reason I decided to purchase the book).

Now casual friendship is another matter. I can make casual friends with little effort. But to entrust the deep, dark secrets of my soul to another human being .. uh, I have to really be able to trust that person.

And that kind of trust takes time. Which means it must be *earned*. (I've known the Dog, for example, for more than 25 years. And yes, the term dogbrother is another word for the phrase "true friend".)

People are human. Which means they're fallible. Which means they make mistakes. Which means it's possible for them to let you down. Which can lead to disappointment. Which (for me) is the main reason I find it difficult to make really close friends (as the Duke study reports).

Respect is another key aspect of friendship. It's difficult (impossible?) for me to befriend someone I can't respect.

On the flip side, if someone continually lets me down, I feel they don't respect me. And if they don't respect me, they likely don't value our friendship .. which implies they don't value *me*.

Another place where I have trouble is when I feel wronged, it is difficult for me to develop a close relationship with a person who has wronged me. I won't say impossible, but it's certainly rare.

I've had many discussion on this topic, with people who claim I need to learn to forgive (usually accompanied by some verse of scripture).

I can forgive, alright .. but that doesn't mean I need to let that person back into my holy of holies, where they can hurt me again.

What's that old saying? .. Screw me once, shame on you; screw me twice, shame on me. It's something like that.

If someone crosses me, I need assurance it won't happen again .. before I can re-establish trust. Note, this isn't a decision I consciously make, but rather an automatic form of self-protection, or so it seems.

Perhaps my standards are too high, but I would rather have *one* genuine friend, than a truckload of casual friends.

During the past year of trials and tribulations, I've learned much about friendship, including who I can trust, and who I can't .. who will be there for me, in my hour of need, and who, well, you know..

I'll leave you with a quote from the book (page 23).

We go through life alone, thinking we are the only ones who feel a certain way about things, and then suddenly someone comes along who feels exactly the same way. It's the start of a beautiful friendship.

For more info along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: friendship.





Posted by Rad at June 25, 2006 02:43 PM

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