In many countries throughout the world, Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate loved ones and appreciate our friends. So let’s delve into what it means to be a true friend, how one can find friends, and what gets in the way of lasting friendships.
What does ‘friendship’ mean?
It’s a voluntary connection, a bond between two or more people that transcends race, religion, gender, or political persuasion. It’s a relationship, where we know we can count on someone to be there for us—no matter what. It’s unconditional love. Friendship is trusting someone enough to reveal a side of ourselves that we often keep secret. Friendship is knowing that someone we trust, will deliver on their promise. It’s the offering of whatever we have to give, to make our friend’s road just a little easier e.g., an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a sofa to crash on, money if needed, our heart, or simply our attention. And like all gifts, if we don’t take care of it, it will be taken away.
How do we acquire friends?
My mentor, Louise Robertson, told me years ago that if I wanted to have friends, I had to be a friend. During the early years of my life, I made bad choices and had little regard for the possessions of others. Without exception, that included other women’s husbands and boyfriends. One day Louise sat me down and said, “Francine, honey, as long as you find it necessary to sleep with other women’s husbands, you won’t have any girlfriends.” What a novel concept. Yet, the truth is, at that time in my life I didn’t think I needed women and I didn’t even like them. I’ve grown up quite a bit. Today I know the value and ultimate utility of having girlfriends that I love and respect, and that love and respect me.
Where do we find friends?
Everywhere we are there is a potential for finding friends. In the hallway in our apartment building, at work, on the elevator, the gym, the opera, in church, at a community meeting, at the PTA—wherever we are, they are. When we show up, there are innumerable opportunities to make friends.
What gets in the way of friendship?
Hurt feelings, egos, family, other friends, work, other commitments, distance and changing values and goals. And some relationships, “seemingly” through nobody’s fault, just fade away. However, I believe that no relationship just dies. Like anything else, where we place our attention is what gets fed, and thus grows. If a relationship reaches its expiration, it’s usually due to lack of attention.
During this month, I invite you to identify two people who are currently out of your life, but who were at one time important. What happened? Use this time to reflect on times past when there was love between you. Even though much time may have passed, if appropriate, I invite you to make a call, send an e-mail, or write a note saying, “Hi, it has been a long time. I’m just thinking about you.”
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