What is Friendship? Are We Thinking About it All Wrong?
What is friendship? It’s a harder question than you think. When you think about the phrase “making friends,” what images come into your mind?
I suspect that most of us think about meeting someone at a party or going out with a colleague after work for a beer. In other words, the idea of “making friends” seems to focus on the short-term. It’s almost as if we think of friendship as being the inevitable consequence of meeting someone that we have chemistry with.
What is Friendship Really?
Like the “Cinderella complex,” in which girls grow up subconsciously expecting to meet their prince charming, after watching too many Disney movies, this misunderstanding about how friendship works has negative consequences.
For starters, true friends are seldom found, but made.
As Aristotle once said, “Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.”
At the beginning, new relationships have potential and nothing more. It is only through the hard process of getting to know someone that we turn an acquaintance into a true friend. Think about how this simple distinction might be impacting your life. Do you sometimes fail to call someone back because there wasn’t enough “chemistry” at your first meeting? Are you working hard enough at turning your surface-level relationships into true and lasting friendships?
To build friendships that last, we need to invest in understanding the other person. We need to be willing to ask the tough questions. We need a way to meet our new friend on equal terms – expecting respect, and giving it in return.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think that our expectations about making friends being natural and easy set us up for relationship failure? Why or why not? Do you agree with Aristotle that friendship is “a slow ripening fruit?” Please join the discussion.