“We are friends” is an interesting description of a relationship, but what does it mean? Presumably you know some people who you consider to be friends, but what does that mean?
The definition of a friend is so broad, and is dictated by ones own perspective, that it is a very questionable word to use unless you have a qualifier. Am I talking about Facebook friends, close friends, distant friends, running friends, friends at work etc .etc.
For this Post, let us consider close friends because they are (from my perspective) the most important ones to have. These are the individuals who will go out of their way as necessary for you, but will ask for nothing in return. These are the individuals who may not agree with your view of the world and resulting decisions, but will support you just because something is clearly important to you. These are very special people! These are people who express no expectations whatsoever from you!
So many friends simply do not meet that criteria. There may be an expectation that their interest in you will be matched by your interest in them. Let’s just call them “good” friends”!
So how many close friends do you have? It’s an interesting question because most of us would probably respond without thinking it through too deeply. Not wishing to offend anybody’s friends, but how many close friends (see bold paragraph above) do you really have?
A partner is an obvious one for many of us… but really? There are usually quite a few expectations within that kind of a relationship. Even sibling relationships can be imperfect when other family members are involved.
We are naturally social creatures and to have friends in the broadest sense is important to us. I have no doubt that you, like me, have quite a number of friends at all kinds of levels of association but, again, how many close friends (see bold paragraph above) do you really have?
In order for me to answer that question, I have to re-phrase it to “How many really close friends have you experienced in your life?” My answer is one!
A very long time ago, when circumstances became particularly difficult, I met a man who showed an interest in helping me to refocus my life. We met on a regular basis and talked over a snack or two (which he paid for). Our relationship lasted around 6 months and, when there was no longer a need, he withdrew from my life. He never asked for anything. He never tried to persuade me to do anything. He simply listened and suggested things that I might want to consider. I found out much later that he was a minister at a local church, but he did not broach religion in any of our meetings.
Perhaps he “set the bar” very high as a friend, because while I do have a number of people that I would call “close friends”. I am really not too sure whether they could meet that standard of dedication in helping me, or that sacrifice of both time and money.
Of course, until circumstances dictate the need for that kind of support, one can never quite know who will “shine”, and who will fade into the shadows. It could be that I currently have a really close friend or two and not even know it. It could be that those friends that I consider close may be very disappointing under certain circumstances!
I have experienced one close friend, and will never forget that individual. As Leo Buscaglia noted once “A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.”
How many close friends do you have? Can you be sure? Just thinking!