Next, we come to a complicated relationship. That’s the relationship between friends. Actually it’s a very simple relationship but tends to get complicated over time and people make it more complicated. It is also one of the most important relationships everyone goes through in their lifetime.
Friendship is important because by the time you realize about this relationship a person is grown up enough that the people around him or her can make an effect on their personality. The people that surround you are the people that will most likely define what you become. These are people who give their love, respect, friendship and trust to believe in you in every step and help you make the right decisions. It’s very true when people say show me your friends and I will tell you who you are. That is how important friends become in defining a person.
A person just chooses a person as a friend for what they are, something they like about the person and they tend to grow together and help each other in evolving as a better person. They are happy to just be together and are able to share everything about themselves with ease. These are friends who always look out for the well-being of the other and want the other to succeed always in life and share every milestone crossed with happiness.
Though it starts out in a very simple manner, very easy, no pressure, no rules it very soon becomes difficult sometimes. The one problem many face is the boundaries of this relationship, how far can it go, how many liberties you can take with your friend, what are the expectations etc etc., and these things tend to weigh the relationship down. More often than not other feelings creep in, jealousy, protectiveness, possessiveness etc., This is one emotion creating lots of problems in this relationship and also puts the relationship thru lots of stress and tests. Unlike other relationships so far discussed, one has to know the other person completely and trust is the most expensive gift one can receive or give to the other person. The foundation of the whole relationship stands on trust. Its very hard to get it back once you lose it in a person.
It is said love is like a violin, the music may stop now and then, but the strings remain forever. Similarly for friendship it is said that, friendship is like a china dish, once broken can be mended but the crack always remains. What it means is that love can be rekindled but the trust in a friendship is hard to find once you lose it. Feelings in a friendship are very deep rooted and every emotion here has taken its own time to develop.
As kids we really don’t know the intensity and gravity of feelings that goes into a friendship. Therefore the person, the kid hangs around with a lot becomes the ‘best friend’ but as adults we delve more into the persons likes and dislikes and we pick and choose our friends. Then you start sharing everything with the friend, every success, every disappointment, every idea, every little thing you do, in happiness and in sorrow friends are always together.
Every person who has a true friend knows how lucky they are to have the good fortune of having a good friend. These are the people who stick with us thru thick or thin, these are the people who do not judge us by what we have and what we do not have, these are the people who like us for what we are and have accepted us with all our shortcomings. These people do not try to change us but do look out for our benefit and good always. Now with so many good things going for this relationship, what goes wrong?
Its usually jealousy with a dash of possessiveness!
The relationship between friends is like a close knit family. People can’t get in very easily and once you get in you are not allowed to go out easily too. When a new person enters in then usually that person ends up putting a spoke in the wheel of a smooth running friendship. For example: Say one of the friends is entering a new business and the other thinks it’s not a good idea and tries to talk him out of it. Sometimes a person might misunderstand it for standing in the way of the other person’s success. Another example is when one of the friends gets a new love interest then the protective instincts of the friend kicks in and when one tries to tell the other what’s right or wrong it’s not acceptable.
Usually when the friend has been protective in other circumstances their judgment is not questioned and is accepted but when the similar judgment is passed under the ‘love’ circumstances or about choosing your partner, its not accepted. The person being judged might be wrong sometimes too because they might be rushing to choose their partner and the ever loving, ever protective friend does not want their friend to get hurt. The person who is passing a judgment might sometimes be wrong because sometimes the friend feels threatened by the entry of a new person into their friend’s life. They are not sure if they can accept the time sharing between friends. The friendship feels threatened. This sometimes causes problems between friends.
But then again we come across those friendships that are so strong they withstand all tests and come out winners. These people might even say that if a friendship can get threatened simply by the entry of another person into their lives then that is not a true friendship at all.
A friendship is formed between humans and each human is as different as chalk and cheese from the other. And humans err. They have likes and dislikes. They are selfish. They are protective-possessive. And these things define the friendship so some may have gone through all these emotions to come out stronger. Whereas some may not have gone through all these emotions but just remained strong and untested. This by no means can be called a battle lost and these people cannot be termed as weaklings. These people just did not have patience to explore all avenues, these people were just not confident enough to talk to the other friend about the problems or issues they have. They were just a bunch of unlucky people.
The depth of a friendship cannot be measured with the amount of time/years spent with the friend. People usually get confused and think that the more time they spend with a person the closer they are and they tend to get drawn into revealing themselves emotionally. They feel like since they have spent so much time with each other they have to reveal all their inner feelings. Another assumption people make is that they start thinking that the more they are together the more they have to reveal themselves to make it last, that’s not true; you don’t have to have a ‘tell all’ friend. It’s not a rule or necessary to tell them everything that happens to you. Also the notion that people believe in that there should be no secrets between friends is also wrong. Everybody has a right to live their lives, keep their secrets and if they say that you are not a true friend for hiding your feelings, then they are just trying to emotionally blackmail you to satisfy their curiosity.
The main reason for a friendship to last is RESPECT.
Everybody has to give the other person their due respect. One has to respect the other person’s wishes, privacy and individuality. That is what friendship is all about. And when this is achieved then that friendship is a bond that lasts forever.
I am not saying friends should always co-exist peacefully and should not have fights or arguments. Friendship is not always a walk through the park. There are lots of hurdles to be overcome, there will be lots of fights, debates and arguments but as long as each one respects the other person’s views and lets go of it when they have to then it doesn’t matter. If one can’t point out the mistakes in the friend and if one can’t respect the other person’s views then something is wrong in that relationship.
So we can say a friend is a person who makes you feel better, makes you a better person and puts in so much of his own goodness that together both become the best. If a person can get the best out of the other, if that person can make you laugh or cry, if that person can lead you from darkness unto light, if that person can satisfy some inner need in you however small or big then that person is a friend.
How happy am I with the kind of friends I have? I am very fortunate to have some very good friends but they are very few and I feel sad that I don’t have many more. I have often wondered why I didn’t have many friends.
One reason I don’t have many friends is that I never had a stand still life in a single place during my growing up years to form a close bond with anyone. My dad was in the kind of job that required him to move around from one place to another so we were constantly being uprooted from our bases and put into entirely new cultures and among new people. But even in this short period of time I was able to find some good friends. Some are friends I am not in touch with very frequently but they are my friends. I know that when I meet them I can connect with them and pick up the relationship from where I left it of. These are people I trust and respect and who in return trust and respect me.
Another pattern I have noticed in life is that in general men seem to have more friends than women. Why? Being a woman I questioned myself too as to why we women can’t have lot of friends. Speaking for myself I would like to say that maybe it’s because of the easy going nature of men and the insecure nature of a woman. Women by birth are very insecure and they constantly have a need to seek attention, security, respect etc from time to time. They tend not to seal a relationship by thinking that he or she is my friend so let me leave it at that, they try to keep it open by constantly having the need to be told that they are important to the other. This is a major drawback because a relationship needs to grow with time and if a person is still stuck at the basics of sealing or defining a relationship then it will never grow. It is bound to fall apart. It would require great patience and understanding from the other to convince them otherwise and who on earth has the patience to do it for a long time? Not many.
I have personally learnt a lot from my friends; each friend has only enriched me more and made me better than what I am. Each person has given me a lot to improve myself. I have always tried to take the good from them but sometimes I did take some things from some friends that would make me more rebellious or more defiant in my behavior. This mostly happened during my adolescent age wherein one gets so carried away with the possibilities around them and the freedom in their hands that one would end up doing things that they normally would not do but would get encouraged to do it in the company of their friends. But then like everything else you outgrow these too and they become just memories for you and your friends to talk about later on in life.
Do I feel I would have been a different person if not for the friends in my life? I would say, Yes. My friends have had a good influence over me. Over the years I have learnt from them and changed myself too. If one friend has taught me to be confident about myself, one has shown me how to voice out my feelings and to be stronger in what I believe in. One has made me realize that its ok to make mistakes as long as we do it only once and not repeat it again. Then there was the one who gave me lessons in human reproduction, telling me things you don’t learn in books. I also remember the friend who taught me how to dress properly and carry myself in public. I got lessons in social etiquettes, and the importance of a good smile. So definitely everyone in my life has left their mark on me and they are reflected in everything I do and everything I am made out to be. Parents educate us only up to a certain point in our life, they lay our basic foundation but I feel friends take over later on when you are out on your own in the wide world. I have had ups and downs with my friends but I know who I can count on when the need comes. I also know there are some who will count on me to be with them, in their time of need. And you bet I will!
Today, in the age of media that travels at the speed of light, the world has become very small. Social networking sites like, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and instant messaging systems like Whatsapp, hangouts and so on have assisted in breeding and breaking friends. We now have long lost friends discovering each other and connecting with each other. People live across continents but are in touch with each other everyday. But then there is a saying, ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’! So the over familiarity has also managed to destroy few relationships. Its wrong to blame anyone or anything for it. A relationship can only be as strong as the people in it are. Over the years, I have lost few, found few and grew apart from a few. One thing I can say honestly is that each one of them have made a positive impact on my life. I can easily think of every friend I had or have and list out the ways in which they have shaped me. They may be out of sight today but they are definitely not out of mind. I salute them for all the good times we had!
Friends are the building blocks of our lives. If these building blocks are good and strong then that decides your future. They can make us or break us and in my case I can definitely say they have made me better and they are my friends for life. Let me end with a few meaningful quotes.
Here is what some famous people had to say about friendship:
- Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. – Helen Keller
- Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything. – Muhammad Ali
- Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over. – Octavia Butler
- When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. – Henri Nouwen
- A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself. – Jim Morrison
- Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. – C. S. Lewis