What is a friend?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about what defines a friend.  The word is often banded about but do we all mean the same thing when we use it?

For me, a friend is someone who is involved in my life, knows me flaws and all and still chooses to engage with me. A friend is someone who can be relied upon to listen to you, to be a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with.

So far, I’m assuming most of you agree? However, for me it then goes a little further. I also need a friend to be someone who can be honest with me and I can be honest to back to. You see otherwise what’s the point? If your ‘friends’ aren’t prepared to challenge you for fear of upsetting you and the same goes for you then is that really a friend?

You see, I would much rather someone felt comfortable to raise issues or concerns with me – it may lead to a lively debate or perhaps a disagreement but surely that’s the point.

I want people in my life who support me with love and kindness as we all do but I also desire the truth. If we go through life unchallenged and indulged how will we meet our potential or grow? We are all guilty of displaying less than desirable characteristics :

arrogance, greed, dishonesty, pride to name but a few.

Do you want to be surrounded by people who allow that in you or do you want them to challenge you? I’ve enjoyed self pity, I’ve enjoyed arrogance because at the time it feels good – admit it. Afterwards however, on reflection it feels ugly and wrong and I can’t help but think there were ‘friends’ standing by who allowed my behaviour. I do not want to be allowed to be like that.

Am I inviting endless criticism by even floating this idea? I don’t think so. I don’t think a true friend would constantly criticise you and point our all of your flaws. I do think they would speak the truth in love and at first it may well smart, hurt and wound a little. Who amongst us enjoys criticism in any form? Even that masked as ‘constructive’ doesn’t feel very comfortable to hear.

What I am saying is that I need to consider for myself the difference between an acquaintance and a friend. That I need to ensure I invest in the people who are prepared to challenge me and that I need to stop sitting back with my own friends and speak the truth in love. It may be difficult at first but I’m hoping it will lead to deeper and better relationships which is what we all really want.

So what is a friend to you? I’d be interested to know.

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About Louise

30 something teacher, wife, christian, Loves singing, baking, cats, encouragement, sunsets, walks, the sea, reading, smiling, laughing, being around people.
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10 Responses to What is a friend?

  1. nicole says:

    Characteristics of a True Friend
    Honest and trustworthy: Can they keep a secret? A good friend doesn-t gossip about you. Do they tell they truth? If they lie to you or about you, they are not a true friend. At the same time, however, a true friend will always look out for you. If you ask a friend to keep something that’s harmful a secret, like drug use or stealing, they may tell somebody in an attempt to get you help. That’s not betrayal, that’s caring.
    Good Listener: Do they listen to you or do they only talk about themselves? If you tell them that you don’t eat candy, do they remember that?
    Loyal: Do they stick with you even when you are grumpy? Are they still your friend when your sick or out of money? If someone is gossiping about you, will your friend step in and put a stop to it?
    Available: Are they available when you need them? If you need to talk instead of going to the movies, are they willing to sit and talk with you? Will they help you finish your chores so you can go swimming?
    Supportive: A true friend will never make you do something that goes against your moral or religious beliefs. They will not ask you to lie, steal or cheat, or to do drugs or alcohol.
    If your friend has these characteristics, you know you have found someone who is a true friend. Be a good friend to this person, and you’ll benefit from this friendship for many years to come.
    I have buddies.. they come and go.. thats is life but A true friend is there in every seasons of life.

  2. Rebecca says:

    It’s a good question and recently one I have asked myself. I have a “friend” who has not been very supportive of me, but in her eyes has been honest. She doesn’t believe I have an illness (an invisible illness that has been diagnosed) instead, her honest streak thinks I have a painkiller addiction. Now do I feel hurt that she isn’t there when I need someone to talk to about a new diagnosis or glad she can be honest? She’s not a Doctor and after being told this hurt me, stood by her decision. A thin line sometimes, but I do agree with you on friendship.

  3. iamsarahk says:

    I don’t completely agree, I see a mate as just someone you hang out with. But I know a lot of people agree with you. However, my partner is the one I need honesty from. Mates are just there to have fun with.
    That’s just the way I am.

  4. I have two friends, I’ve known one since kindergarten the other since 5th grade. What makes them true friends is how comfortable we are with each other. We can go months w/o talking or interacting anymore than on Facebook, we know each other’s flaws and while we do gripe about them to boyfriends, we accept the flaws. If something good happens, they are the first ones I’ll squee to. (Something bad not really but I have this thing about people seeing me cry.) We take each other as we come with very little complaint and will still be calling each other friend until the day we die.

  5. There are all different varieties of friends – that’s the whole fun of it! I love having friends with a range of views, outlooks and aims in life, and who I can do different things with…Funtime friends are just as valuable as those who have helped you weather a crisis…and one of the lovliest things is when roles spin round – suddenly you’re discussing a key decision with the guy who’s held you up after one shot too many, or dancing until your hairspray sweats out with your coffee companion. But if this doesn’t happen then it’s ALL GOOD – as long as you both enjoy spending time together then just live it and love it!!! I don’t want to end on a bad note but I have to say that a backstabbing friend is not a friend at all though…eurgh, get OUTTA here!

    There’s my two dollas worth!
    mwahs xxx

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