My friendship with my best friend Dinna started in the most unconventional manner when she approached me about unwanted facial hair. This issue was raised in the midst of forty or so other females of similar age. It was strange that Dinna chose the one who looked the least friendly in the room to approach and start a conversation. The conversation, which started with the topic of unwanted facial hair, continues on even after 18 years, and is as fresh and fun as it was on that very first day we met.
I often wonder if there is a secret formula for a true lasting friendship like that of what I share with my best friend. Is there actually a fabulous formula to create a lasting true friendship? Numerous research has been done, and hundreds of articles and books have been written on this subject. They point out numerous qualities a true friend should have. Many say the same thing. If you summarise it all, you will get a list of qualities that one should have in order to find and maintain a deep and meaningful friendship that would be beneficial for your life, as well that of your friend. Following are some of the qualities I believe one should posses or cultivate to be a good friend.
A good listener makes a good friend. Listen, listen, listen. I do agree with all of those who have put so much stress on this one point. After all who would want to be friends with someone who only knows how to jabber on and on? Listening is key in not only friendships; it is key to every relationship that we cultivate and cherish during our lives.
Trustworthiness is also a key ingredient. Being able to trust someone is of utmost importance to a lasting friendship. Without trust a friendship will wither and die like a shrub without water. A friend is one with whom you share almost everything in your life. This kind of sharing will not happen unless there is absolute mutual trust. After all who would want to divulge ones secrets to a bulletin board, which is open to the public? A trustworthy friend would not try to ruin you or your reputation. Betrayal is not in the vocabulary of true friends. Trust gives freedom in a friendship; freedom to mature beyond a mere acquaintance.
Forgiveness. This is another quality that is often found in articles that touches on friendship. One article I read states that without forgiveness a friendship will be impossible. It is true at some time or the other we as humans make mistakes, act foolish or hurt those who are closest to us. A forgiving friend would understand if your apology is sincere, and would forgive you as you would accept a sincere apology and forgive them.
Being present. A true friend is not with you only when you are doing good, but also when you are in the dumps. The true nature of the love and care a friend has for you makes them stick to you in good times as well as bad. They laugh with you when you laugh, and cry with you when you are sad. If your friends go missing when you hit rock bottom, then they were never your true friends.
Truthfulness. Definitely a good quality in a friend. A friend is someone who doesn’t have to sugarcoat things in order to be in your good books. A truthful friend is an asset to your life, and being truthful to your friend will make life easy for you.
But I feel most importantly all of these aspects of a friend cannot make a friendship last long unless you understand and accept the friend for who she/he is. Many friendships are ruined because we try to mould our friends into a model we want them to be. We often find fault with their lives, and try and change it to the way we want their lives to be.
Acceptance is key to a lasting true friendship. Birds of a feather flock together they say. Is this always true in friendships? Most of my friends are nothing like me. They know that and I know that, but we enjoy that difference, and we tolerate those differences. The success of our friendships has been due to that tolerance and acceptance we have of each other. We believe we have no right to change each other’s lives. We are at liberty to learn from each other and/or to adapt to each other’s interest and behaviour; but to do so or not is our own decision. I do not force my ideas on my friends and try to change them. I do not think I am better than them, and that my way is best. And they do not think this way either. We value each other as we are. This has resulted in us building each other up. A true friend should be one who builds you up, and not one that puts you down. If you understand and accept your friend and she or he is; it's easy to be yourself, and you do not have to put on an act just to please others. I am sure there are more qualities that may be added to the above list, but most other qualities somehow are extensions of these basic qualities that have been mentioned.
Thank you for this article. For me a big part of a good friendship (as in a marriage too) is communication. You have mentioned listening. But communicate how you feel; what you are happy/not happy about. A real openness. No hidden agendas.