Be A Friend.

By Ivy Maloy

There is no doubt about it, everyone needs friends. So many of us now live miles from our families, some in different countries, and the friends we make help us not feel lonely or homesick. Friendships can help us find purpose and meaning, stay healthy, and live longer. The intimacy, the support, equality, and emotional bonds we have in our friendships are so unique and beautiful.

When we were young, our primary social relationship is between our parent or guardians and our siblings. But when we go to school we start having deeper friendships that involve at first doing things together, then later we develop a deeper, shared emotional element.

Do you remember the first friend you made other than your family members?

As we grow up, friendship becomes more abstract and relational. Friendship at this stage is easy because we are all thrown into an environment where we have the same-age peers and making friends is really easy. And also, when one is an adolescent, your brain is attuned to social signals and connection, one is really hyper and interested in social activities.

In adulthood, people start to have jobs and may even get married, have families. People become so busy and it becomes harder to spend time with your friends. Toward the end of life, people tend to come back around to having a little bit more time to hang out with friends as their kids are all grown and do not need a lot of monitoring.

Not surprisingly, friendships have different functions at different life stages. In our teens and early life stages, we are all forging our identities hence we use our friends as mirrors. However, as we get older we become more comfortable with ourselves and don’t need friends who are just like us. We start having friends of different ages, with different tastes, interests and perspectives.

As we move through life, people make and keep friends in different ways. Some are independent, make friends wherever they go, and may have more friendly acquaintances than deep friendships. Others are discerning, meaning they have a few best friends they stay close with over the years, but the deep investment means that the loss of one of those friends would be devastating. The most flexible are the acquisitive people who stay in touch with old friends, but continue to make new ones as they move through the world.

Are you still friends with your childhood friends?

The friendships that sustain the test of time are mostly those that are based upon shared core values. Old friends who have a strong emotional history. We may not necessarily see them as often as we would like, but we never stop thinking of them, they are always in our hearts. Spending time with friends fill up our lives with great conversation, heartfelt caring and support, and laugh out loud fun. When we fall on hard times, friends are there to put things in perspective and help us.

Even though relationships and friendships can be tough, when we find good, decent and trustworthy friends, they certainly can make life worthwhile. In as much as life is boring without friends, we should all learn to let go of friends who add no value into our lives and those that are toxic. We should not just keep friends for the sake of having friends, we should keep friends who build us to be better beings.

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