What makes a friendship?
I’ve often asked myself that question, and, in my head, stared quizzically at my friends, trying to figure out the common denominator between them, why they are my friends.
Do you choose your friends? I certainly don’t, not to a large extent anyway. I tend to be very passive in the way I lead my life, and pretty shy and anti-social in the way I interact with people. I’m never the one to first approach someone else.
How did my friends become my friends? I don’t really know. I guess it tends to be a mixture of being brought together by circumstance and then staying together, becoming friends due to the friendliness of one or both parties. Which is then cemented first by the decisions to make the effort, to keep in touch, and later by the trust and understanding that time helps build.
So what makes a friendship, or any kind of relationship? What’s the crucial ingredient, what’s important to you?
Do your friends (or girlfriend or boyfriend or sister or brother) have to share your values, your ideals, your political or religious beliefs?
Do your friends (or girlfriend or boyfriend or mother or father) have to have the same tastes in music, same tastes in movies, same tastes in books, same tastes in food?
Do they have to enjoy singing, if you love to sing? running, if you love to run? gaming, if you love to game? playing basketball, if you love basketball? rock climbing, if you love rock climbing? photography, if you love photography? anime, if you love anime? being outdoors, if you enjoy being outdoors?
Do they have to spend a certain amount of time with you to qualify? Chat with you on the phone several times a week? Bug each other online every other day? Hang out every week or so?
Or do they have to meet certain criteria you’ve set down for whom you want to be friends with, or whom you want has a romantic partner? Does he need to own a car? Buy you flowers? Call you every night? Be of a certain social status (would you be friends with the weirdos and the outcasts?) Would you be friends with someone much richer, or much poorer than you? someone of a different race, perhaps, or different culture? Do they need to fit your stereotype of what a boyfriend or a friend should be?
I suppose that most of the time you would share some of these, many of these, with your friends. After all, it’s probably a common interest or activity that brought you together in the first place. And if two people were really completely different as night and day with no common ground, it would be difficult to carry a conversation, much less sustain a friendship.
And yet I dare say that NONE of that matters at all, not really. None of it is what makes the friendship, none of it is what defines the friendship and keep it going.
I have friends whom I hardly ever see, hardly ever speak to, because of our busy schedules and because we’re only in the same country once or twice a year. Friends who differ completely from me in their ideological beliefs, their way of doing things. Friends who don’t enjoy the same activities I enjoy, whose favourite activities I have no interest in. It may even be hard for me to explain what we actually do or talk about when we get together.
But it doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that when we do meet, the meeting is the point, not the activity. When we do meet, we spend the time enjoying each others’ company. Certain people you just click with instantly, finding yourselves on the same wavelength. When we do meet, we feel at ease, relaxed and happy. Conversation flows easily, and even if it doesn’t, that’s fine and we enjoy comfortable silences. We trust each other enough to be ourselves, to speak of the things on our minds and in our hearts, unafraid of rejection or judgement. We understand each other with just a look or brief comment, but we accept and support even when we don’t fully understand. We love each other enough to care, enough to try; enough to make the commitment to always be there.
That’s what matters to me; that’s what relationships are made of. Every other obstacle is secondary, every other problem is just a stepping stone to be overcome. Because when you have that, nothing can touch it and nothing can replace it.
Circumstance allows your paths to cross. From there, it starts with a feeling, maybe. A spark, or some kind of comfortable compatibility where you find each other pleasant enough to be around. Time builds on that and as you get to know each other better, trust, understanding and love grows. Cement that with the active, constant decision to commitment from both parties and you’re good for life.
Compatibility. Love. Trust. Understanding. Acceptance. And mutual commitment.
When you have something like that in your life, where things have gone more than right at every step and stage, when every component is strong… cherish it. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t throw it away. It’s not that easy to come by.