This is not a true “rant”…as you will see by the style in which I wrote it. However it is something that needs saying and so…
What makes a true friend? I suppose that depends on who you ask. It also depends on what the term “true friend” means to the one you are asking. From my point of view there are friends and then there are true friends. This is not based so much on how they treat me but rather in how I have come to trust them. While those two aren’t mutually exclusive, they are not totally intertwined either.
I have a fairly small group of friends…say about 30 people. These are the ones that I sometimes hang out with or go to the movies or play some games. I do have trust in them or they wouldn’t be my friends at all. But I am also not completely open with them about anything and everything. I do not feel I could call them at 3am if I am in need of help or just a sympathetic ear to hear my sorrows or worries or frustrations. I have limits on how far I will go to help them.
Beyond that group is a very select few that I call true friends. I do not have secrets from them. I do not have a feeling that I need to hold anything back from them. I know I can call on them at any time for any thing and they will be there for me. I will also move mountains to do anything for them. These are the people I love. These are the few that I know I can count on. Such true friends are hard to come by in today’s world. These are the few that accept everything about me, faults and all.
Why do I bring this up? I had a recent long conversation with one of these true friends about our friendship. I don’t think it was clear before to this person exactly what our friendship really meant. I hope I have conveyed it better than I have in the past. But it also got me to thinking, how many people go through life never really knowing what a true friend can be? How many have never had someone they could confide in completely…someone they could call upon at any time and share any thought with? I think there are far too many that fit in that category.
Life is not an easy thing to live and every now and then everybody needs someone to lean on. Many will just “make do” with whatever person happens to be handy at the moment. Unfortunately such an interaction will probably not be comforting or fulfilling. Oh I am sure many will convince themselves that it doesn’t matter who you talk to when you need to talk. I disagree. The choice of whom you talk to is almost as important as what you say…sometimes more so. The true friend is the one who will really listen and make an effort to understand what you are saying and how you are feeling. It won’t be mindless head-nodding that one normally uses in random conversation that holds no real interest. It will be a focusing of understanding and compassion.
When hurt or insecure or in need of a shoulder, nothing less than a true friend will do. The act of listening and understanding is rarely an easy thing and is absolutely essential at these moments. A “warm body” will, at best, provide superficial comfort but will do little to help the true nature of whatever really brought on these feelings. In some cases, that can actually make the problem worse.
I believe I’ve brought this up before but if you look at couples that have been together for a very long time and ask them who their best, most true friend in the world is…you’ll mostly likely hear them say it is their partner. Now this certainly isn’t going to always be the answer and of course not all true friendships end up in closer relationships. But it is worth mentioning because it further demonstrates how important these types of bonds are. People need other people that can understand…that can be trusted with intimate secrets and desires and worries…that can ease and calm us. We all need someone we can count on.