Friendship – What is it?

I have often thought about what friends I have.  I have not, for a very long time, thrown all friends into one basket.  I also think that people can only handle things that are within their sphere – so for example, it is useless discussing the opera with someone like me, because I don’t get it. 

I have friends for different things, but usually it revolves around sharing. I don’t do one-way relationships – that is not friendship, that is dependency.  Neither do I do symbiosis (where we each completely feed off each other) – a real friend will share with you but let you swim alone; and as a real friend, you will share with them but then swim unaided – and that works both ways.

friends in a circle

Sharing – perhaps we connect because we are going through something similar and we can share our ideas and learn from each other; perhaps we can share because we both love a good love, or a goof around an arts exhibition.

There are a few dear people – very dear – who I do not consider as ‘friends’, in the sense that when I meet them, I leave the get-together drained. These are the people who always have a bone of contention, always find something to complain about and go on and on about the same thing.  That’s not the classical ‘friendship’ but I know they do care a lot for me and stood around me when I needed them.  I love them anyway, probably more dearly than some, but I cannot be hanging around them all the time.

friends in a group

Friendship is not about hanging around someone all the time – you can be a friend without seeing someone weekly or even monthly. There’s a lot of love and respect, and not a lot of dependency in my friendship book (even as I am a bit of a butterfly). There are friends who I’ve not seen in a couple of years – and I know we would like to see more of each other. The bond is strong, but sometimes we need to make choices as to how to spread out our time.  A good, strong friendship, for me, loves to meet – but doesn’t need to.

There are acquaintances – people I meet at an art or music class, people I greet daily or work with. We probably share much but they become a familiar face on my life-landscape. Are they friends? No, not in the huddly sense but I know that probably if they asked for my help, I’d give it.

Work colleagues – friends? Well, not in the ‘bonding deeply’ sense – I don’t have a word for that. But, ‘acquaintances’ is too cold a term. There are some with whom you can share a lot, even if you don’t ever meet up outside the office.

There are those people who want a friend to be a form of life-partner, someone whom they can depend on to meet every weekend and do everything together. For me that’s a bit of co-dependency – fill the void with a friend; even more so if you don’t have a partner.  That’s a bit over-the-top for me.

I don’t have a single bestie.  My ‘bestie’ is my partner and even then, there are areas where our lives don’t overlap. I have many female besties, and a few male besties. Most of them have been around for a long time – perhaps, because we don’t cling, the friendships last long. We do our own thing and then come back to share – the love, the adventures, the silliness and even the griefs, hell – why not! It’s all part of who we are. We don’t hang on to each other for dear life, even if we lean from time to time – that’s ok. Every ‘bestie’ has a different meaning in my life (as, I suppose, me to them).

Then there are friends-in-the-making. My heart is always open to making new friends – as in, transitioning from acquaintances to friendship as, with the passage of time, I feel that certain people do earn that forward step in each other’s lives.

I also believe that friends come and go (physically) as and when the energies align. So things would happen so that two friends (or more) start to meet up regularly when there is a common energy – when they diverge, they are still ‘friends’ – just meet less.  I don’t think that true friendship (a form of love) goes away when they diverge – they just need to be doing something different.

Is there a type of friend I don’t have?  Not really. Anything that doesn’t fall within my idea of friendship (clinging, dependent, flaky with time, keeps bunging up meeting dates or times) is not a ‘friend’. I’ve always attracted a variety of people to my life – because of my openness to receive others (and to give).

Do I choose? No, I don’t choose alone – they choose me too.

By Geraldine Spiteri

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