The Cambridge Dictionary states the meaning of a friend as: a person you know well and like a lot, but who is usually not a member of your family.
That seems so vague to me, plus there are family members that I DO consider my friends. So Blah on that definition.
The Webster Dictionary States the meaning of a friend is: one attached to another by affection or esteem;one that is not hostile
Hmm, again too generic for me plus not sure about the word esteem being used to describe a friend. I know it means a higher form of respect, which is a must in my friendships, but for me it conjures up a vision of someone being better than another.
The Urban Dictionary definition of a true friend : A true friend is someone who has touched your heart and will stay there. Someone you care for, who cares for you. Someone you can do the stupidest things around and always be forgiven. Someone you’ll instantly remember in ten years because they are in your heart and not just your mind. They have the ability to change you, even if they don’t. They will be etched in your memories forever.
I like this one more, but let’s add honesty, sincerety, loyalty and encouragement (not just with the stupid things).
But what constitutes a friend in your eyes? What constitutes a true friend?
Aristotle described a true friend as a “single soul dwelling in two bodies”. It’s like having “another self” according to him. HMMMM…sounds so narcissistic.
For me the definition of friendship has changed from my teens/twenties to now my fifties. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have the patience anymore for the cliques, for the phoniness, for the “what can I get out of you” friends.
I have learned in my mature age that I shouldn’t expect much from the people in my life. That’s not fair to them. I shouldn’t expect someone else to be responsible for my own happiness and well-being. That’s not their job.
First, I must be a friend to myself. I have to respect myself, be honest with myself, and honor my own words with my actions. Once I can do that, then I have the right to ask the same of those who I call friends.
These are the following attributes I see a true friend possessing. I am not saying what I believe is the absolute meaning, but I think I am pretty close to sharing the same beliefs (and hopes) for what constitutes a true friend for most people.
- A real friend has common interests, but supports you in the ones you don’t have in common: The fake friend will make fun of you or discourage you from pursuing activities they don’t care to partake in. A real friend will encourage you to go for it! They give you permission to be yourself and love you for it.
- A real friend will have your back: They will support you and stand by you no matter what, but will be honest with you when they see you going down the wrong path or making an unwise decision. They will defend you around others speaking negatively about you and tell you to your face when you are being a bitch. I have a friend I have known since the eighth grade who I have the utmost trust in. She was never shy about telling me an outfit looked bad on me (or slutty), always told me when it looked good, and said to my face what others might have said behind my back.
- A true friend will be there when you fail and remind you of who you are and bring you up by tapping into your inner strength and beauty. They will rekindle your confidence. A true friend will SINCERELY celebrate when you succeed; screaming to the world how proud they are of you.
- True friends laugh with you and sometimes even at you. It’s great having friends you can be obnoxious to just for the sake of being silly, having innocent fun, or, for some, it’s their way of being affectionate. You just have to know the difference between mean, jealous insults and silly teasing. Go with your gut on this one. It’s their way of keeping us humble!
- Real friends also cry with you. Those who won’t leave you when things get dark and painful are true friends. They are there when their love and support is all that can get you through rough times.“If one day you feel like crying… call me I don’t promise that I will make you laugh but I can cry with you. If one day you want to run away Don’t be afraid to call me. I don’t promise to ask you to stop, but I can run with you. If one day you don’t want to listen to anyone call me I promise to be there for you but I also promise to remain quiet but… If one day you call and there is no answer… come fast to see me.. Perhaps I need you.” ~ Robert J. Lavery
- True friends don’t have an ulterior motive for being in your life. This one has become a HUGE one for me as an adult. This is a tricky one in the beginning to notice, so go with your instinct. Are they your friend because you are popular or know famous people? Take note of what they talk about when they are with you and that might give you a clue. Are they your friend because you have more money than they do? Again, take notice of when they want to hang with you and what they talk about. Are you just a convenience: giving them rides when needed; advancing their business endeavors because of your popularity; only call when they need something? Do they give back to you? Unfortunately, I have had enough experience with this that I feel as if I am becoming a professional at detecting phoniness. Hopefully, you are just good friends and the “benefits” happen naturally!
The following ones below might not be that big of a deal to you, but for me they can give a clear insight of who a person truly is inside:
- A true friend knows better than to post an unflattering picture of you online. When in doubt they ask first before posting! This might sound superficial, but think about it. A person who throws a fit about a bad picture of them being posted online, yet doesn’t think twice about posting an awkward photo of you, is someone who is either self-absorbed, jealous of you, or doesn’t think about others’ feelings. You might not put this one on your list, but for me it’s about the actions, not just the words.
- There is no “keeping track” of who paid for what when, who did what for whom or who asked the other to do something last time. This goes back to: are they friends for ulterior motives or does it all just come naturally?
- Your real friends are secure enough to allow you to be friends with others; to spend one on one time with other friends; and to make new friends.
- The smallest gestures show you how much they care: Making sure you get home safely; waiting with you as you tie your shoes for the upteenth time; going with you to the bathroom for the hundreth time; helping to clean up your house after a party; they drop everything to come over and hang with you when you are having a bad day. I could go on, but I think you get it.
Reading all this makes it seem like quite a task to be a true friend, but really it isn’t if it’s meant to be a real friendship. Making the time, putting in the energy, laughing, crying, talking about bathroom issues, supporting each other, embracing each other’s quirks, forgiving easily, being comfortable with dressing like a slob around each other, not caring if the house is a mess when they arrive, and just basically wanting to make each other better people.
I have had two people in the past couple years say to me that they are too old to make anymore friends. That seems so final and sad. If I were to follow that I would never have met some of the truest friends I have today. This once VERY shy person now thrives on meeting new personalities and learning from their experiences.
I am blessed to have TRUE friends who have all of these qualities. Some I haven’t seen in a while, but I know they are there for me at the a drop of a hat and I for them. Some I am lucky to see often. But mostly, I am grateful for when they call me their real friend. I don’t take these people for granted. I cherish them and embrace how they have contributed to making me a better person and my life a more enriched one.
Oh, and of course, this!