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I'm posting mostly over at Quirky Cookery right now, where I play with my food and teach you to have fun with it, too. Come check me out?

What is a friend?

I left this in a note to a "friend":

And I hate to sound like I'm holding a grudge or being nit picky, but do you know what it means to be a friend? I will accept your request and there is no need for you to answer that question for me, but I want it to at least cross your mind for consideration.
It's really not relevant what happened with that person, nor do I care to discuss the details of what I think about him/her, the circumstances, or the possible future between the two of us.....but it did make me wonder what people consider "friends."

I asked some people from a set of forums I visit, in hopes of figuring out what people really view as 'friends' (I asked for another purpose, too, but this fit right in...) I thought maybe I had my standards set too high. I've never really had any problems with my friends before....they're always carefully chosen and it's taken years to build many of the friendships....but in the last year, I've 'lost' a couple for various reasons. My philosophy has always been that if the friendship can be 'fail', then the person wasn't really a true friend in the first place. As far as I'm concerned, that still stands true.

I have different levels of 'friends'....those select few who I'm very close to....those who don't quite reach that standard, but I'm still on really good terms with....those who consider me a friend without a doubt, but whom I know I couldn't go to with much, and know very little about me....and those that rank lower as acquaintances, but who are slightly more than just people I know in passing...(and any gray area in between, of course, but only the top two really get the 'friend' label....the others fall more into the 'buddy' category...) On any level, though, if they can be disposed of or they can dispose of me and any level of relationship with me at the drop of a hat, then I have no reason for them to be in my life. Period.

Anywho, a few of the things that kept being mentioned were trust, loyalty, each bringing something different to the friendship, being there for each other, respect, understanding, listens, etc. It turns out, the definition and expectations really aren't that much different than they were in the past. Obviously, everybody has their own qualities they look for in friends....some are very lenient, some are very harsh....but the core qualities of a 'true' friend are pretty much in the same categories.

It looks like I just faltered with these select people. I know they didn't set out to intentionally do what each of them did, but in the end, that part doesn't even matter....even the actual scenarios and end consequences don't really matter at this point. They're simply not things I choose to dwell on, but I wonder if I've second guessed some of my choices with other friends because of my uncertainty? Honestly, I don't think I've been put into many situations where I could have, but the possibility is still there.

Back to the point.....What is a friend?

Sir Dave gave this response:

Friends are those who can make you smile, help you cope with issues, share their life with you, and are willing to spend time with you when you're lonely. Friends are willing to make compromises and sacrifices for you if necessary, and friends will share your hopes, pains, joys, and victories. They are your true equals, and while you might not always agree with them, there will never be a dispute over how much you care for each other. Friends don't keep score; that is, if a friend buys you dinner one night, you don't "owe them" anything. And, a friend will never ask you to do anything for the sake of taking advantage of you.
I can't help but wonder how many people exist that can actually fill those shoes on every level....

Wikipedia says that friendship is:

.....a term used to denote co-operative and supportive behaviour between two or more social entities. This article focuses on the notion specific to interpersonal relationships. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection. Friends will welcome each other's company and exhibit loyalty towards each other, often to the point of altruism. Their tastes will usually be similar and may converge, and they will share enjoyable activities. They will also engage in mutually helping behavior, such as exchange of advice and the sharing of hardship. A friend is someone who may often demonstrate reciprocating and reflective behaviors. Yet for many, friendship is nothing more than the trust that someone or something will not harm them.

Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating on a consistent basis:
  • the tendency to desire what is best for each other
  • sympathy and empathy
  • honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth
  • mutual understanding.
Again, so many of the same traits are being repeated over and over and over and over again. If so many people at least somewhat agree what being a 'friend' means, then why do I keep hearing all the stories about friendships breaking up, friendship drama/hatred, and vengeful 'friends', and why were my own expectations failed when I always choose so carefully?

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