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What is Friendship? Are We Thinking About it All Wrong?

By Margaret Manning April 02, 2015 Lifestyle

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.

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Building a friendship is a two way thing. I find it takes a lot of effort because people are invested in their own families, work or other social events and it’s hard to connect with someone new. Since my husband passed away two years ago, I’ve had to step outside my comfort zone and make an effort, but after six months of trying hard, being kind and enthusiastic, I’ve hit a brick wall. I joined a social group and contributed by taking on a role, but found it hard to break into the social cliques. I have been unwell for three months with very little interaction with this group which is disappointing. I’ve decided it is it is and what will be will be. I’m in my little bubble with my memories and my music and as long as I can get out and about now and then, I am reasonably content. Unfortunately my family are on the other side of the world, but I am grateful for every breath I take.The sun is still shining and the birds are singing.

The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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