If there is one lesson in life worth remembering, it is to never underestimate the value of friendship. I don’t mean any old friendship – true friendship.
While many of us may have quite a large circle of friends, true friends are pretty hard to find. True friends are those with whom we share a deep and unique connection, the beginnings of which often start to develop the very first time we meet. Much like the way in which romantic chemistry works, we often feel instinctively drawn to one another and for reasons beyond our comprehension, we simply just seem to “click”. Another tell-tale sign of true friendship is the fact that, once established, neither time nor distance can weaken the bond.
So what makes a true friend?
Why we only have this special kind of chemistry with a select number of friends appears to be a mystery. We do know, however, which factors play an important part in two people actually becoming friends. Alex Lickerman, M.D., determines a number of characteristics that draw people together and can thus help us define friendship.
- Shared interests. This is a pretty obvious factor, which probably holds true for most of your own friendships. When interests diverge, however, friends will most likely start spending less time together, although this doesn’t necessarily have an influence on the level of affection.
- Shared history. Going through the same experiences can significantly strengthen the bond between people, even more so if this shared experience proves to be a difficult one. However, if that the only tie, the friendship is unlikely to last.
- Shared values. While we need more than common values alone to establish a friendship, they appear to be another important requirement for it to withstand the test of time.
- Equality. What you give should be what you get, meaning that the support and encouragement extended to a friend should go both ways in order for the friendship to be considered true.
Lickerman goes on to list three factors that define a good friend (or, if found wanting, three good reasons to perhaps reconsider calling someone a friend at all):
Good friends are committed to what’s best for you, even if that means telling you something you don’t want – yet need – to hear, thus even willing to put the friendship at risk. Your happiness and wellbeing comes first.
Good friends respect your principles, no matter what. They will not ask you to compromise them, whether it be for your friendship or any other reason.
Good friends are a good influence, inspiring you to be the best you can be.
However, even if a friendship ticks all of the boxes above, without that deep, instinctive connection, it is fair to assume that two people, however supportive of each other, will never be more than “just friends”. There’s nothing wrong with that though.
Want to find out in what way our friends impacts our quality of life? We got you covered! Find out more about friendship and connecting.