Good relationships make us healthier and happier. Cultivate warm interactions for blossoming happiness, a thriving wellbeing. This is the most recent conclusion of the over eight decades lasting, broadest longitudinal study on happiness by the Harvard University of which even the future US president John Kennedy was part of. The Good Life, a self-help book by the current directors of the research Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz, sums up the complex results through cross-study evaluation, but a simple common sense would lead to the same revelation. Holy joy!
A good friend is like your favourite gelato spooned out in bed. They both make you happy in their presence, you want to devour the entire bucket of them, and you miss them once they are gone for too long. As with pets, we bond with these agreeable companions easily. Offering pure presence, yet unlike animals we keep as companions, the real friends fill the gap of unconditional affection. Los amigos, les amis, die Freunde, pravy kamaradi get deep with you without judging!
Friendship boundaries liberated
I am writing from a female perspective as an insight into the female approach to friendship. A friend can be better than just a boyfriend. Women naturally share more, and I love that we are unafraid to be vulnerable with each other. Men are too often cowards in communication. Flexing their muscles, professing control, but what you really need is an emotionally involved being.
I have an abundant dating history, good or bad I do not count, knowledge adds up. There was ever only one man I could talk almost about everything — my husband. Still, some things felt more alright to be shared only between women. Sorry, man! When I discuss something with a woman she gets me, feels me immediately, the empathy is there, no games if we are friends, not just social pals. With men it is a fine line, something needs to be withheld, so the fence between let’s be friends and let’s get intimate is not crossed. What a fine border that is, like grains of sand on a windy path! Plus, what kind of a man would spilt a burger with you?
Still, I like to have male friends for they show me a different perspective, restraint sometimes, encouraging me to express pure joy and go strongly for my dreams. I love the male spirit force. My first friend ever, when I was just able to walk was a boy. We had so much fun riding our tricycles, pretending to drive a car, playing Indian hunters with a bow and arrow (my favourite toys) and his family making videos of the two of us reminds me of those long passed, silly joyous times of little me before I became the big me. I have not changed much to be honest. It feels natural maintaining male friendships despite the challenge of a potential jealousy from my dating partner.
We need the yin and yang and a perspective away from our everyday coupling. I find the most evolved and strong the couples in an open relationship when spending time with others is never making you feel guilty and they do not try to make you feel so.
Yes, it happened, a friend fell for me. Being wise, knowing how valuable we were to each other as friends when crossing the border by kissing wound change and potentially kill it between us forever was worth being aware in that crucial moment. So beautiful that two decades later we spoke about it and it was not me who remembered, it was him and he was very grateful that I stopped him and explained myself for he can always turn to me like a sister. Once you kiss, you are not mere friends. The most tempting of cravings, to kiss another when you feel the confusing affection is the most fragile event for me. It can crush me and I cannot take it back. If we do not work as a romantic couple, then I cannot take you back as anything. What a shame. I was unexpectedly kissed by a woman in Singapore once as far as I remember and never saw her again. So it goes cross-gender.
Growing and coping together
Your relationship with any friend changes as you both go through various life events, distressing or jolly, affectionate or downing. A new job, marriage, children, moving to another country, continent, a new mind, pandemic, all affect how you talk, and what is friendship about then communicating? Well, sharing meaningful, illuminating moments together, inspiring each other, showing affection and a good hug frequently do magic to your heart and mind! This is love, one of its myriad, beautiful forms, that inclusive feeling of caring about another being, shape, idea, something in the real or even imagined existence.
Unconditional support is what makes the greatest friendships last. If our egos are hurt or when we just lose it in the momentous tsunami of life, we are vulnerable to making mistakes, and hurting a friend might be one of them. As with romantic partners, friends are to an extent sensitive to our behaviour towards them. Naturally, it depends on your personality, innate character and maturity, as well as on your past wounds, the baggage we emotionally carry along our lifespan unless we work hard on releasing it. We are unique beings, but we share some universal needs like wanting to be loved as we are.
Seeing there people: being sensitive with each other
One does not have to be an extrovert to have a close friend. Introverts tend to keep a very small group of friends, but their pals are submitted to a much more rigorous trust screening. Such close friendships last longer than the superficial — let’s fill my available time — relationships. Even an outgoing person though needs to establish boundaries, because our time here is limited. And a good friend understands it, a great friend gives you space in solitude when you need it, and ideally you must ask for it.
Sometimes making a new friend is irrational like falling in love, at least with me. My intuition drives me to keep communicating with some person and I do not know why, perhaps a lesson I shall and need to learn from them, their personality, life situation? I am like a sponge. While we both might have a limited lifespan, the one of the myriad of differences between us is that unlike the brainless sponge I select how I fill my time. What attracts me to this person? We might share something and that is an easy glue, but what about when our opinions on many matters differ?
I like challenges and perhaps that is why I am inclusive of anyone who seems to have good intentions, values, something I deeply care about myself or they truly struggle at that point in life. Perhaps it is feminine caring trait, but I cannot let someone just drown in the mud, fall down the cliff, for I feel it my humane duty to somehow offer my help or at least virtual support if nothing else is possible in the moment.
Perhaps that not knowing, that mystery of a stranger in a mess pulls me in. A curious being, I might be an outlier, but if we all had opened ourselves a bit, gave a bite of our time to the service of others, we would create a better world though every embracing action we manifest. Of course, there is a limit, and we need to draw the line when the other is too needy. What we shall inspire is something that took me decades to figure out myself – to accept and love ourselves so we can give ourselves in healthy amounts to others. Not to just keep giving or receiving love, it is about extrapolating the feeling, liberating others from their unwelcome burdens. Similar to collaborators at work, exchanging experience and knowledge is part of the deal between friends.
I cannot limit myself just to my immediate family, sometimes I am being called somewhere else and I cannot explain why I do it. I am simply not a calculative person, manipulative games and strategies put me off, they feel so inauthentic. I like to play, and with friends, well anyone, it is fun to join in a play, to be kids for the time being, but there are rules we all understand. Of course if a family member needs me, I am all in if I know my presence can make a difference. I am a responsible adult and that makes the difference. Life is tough, but the balance of friendships can ease it off.
Not always a smooth ride, challenging freindships
Friendship can thrive between siblings, even with our parents, but that can be the most difficult friendship of all. There is just too much baggage and social conditioning attached to family relationships that complicates our feelings. Expectations tint relationships with the potential of disappointment and certain pressure conditions the bond between two people. But what we all crave is unconditional acknowledgement that we matter, love, and being supported through our hard work. Motivation, purpose, values, sharing.
I lovingly offer my poem on friendship here:
Dear Free Friend
We are scattered star dust
On this selfist lone pole
Of love combusted by separation
— pristine loyalty
Is a rare glimpse of divinity
Illuminating from your heart’s heat
Filling my cold hands in January
With genuine care shared
Tenderly, volunteering humanity
In this world of scarcity
— the lack of unconditional love
Affection is our saviour
Our Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, the Sun
Like Abraham the father of us all myth-makers
— in oneness
We need more of your shared joy
We want more of your embraces
We crave pleasure, while we kill
Seeking approval through annihilated nil
But we thrive when you believe in our will
Carving through life a patient dedication to skill
— unique yet bonding
Pristine awareness of selfless love
Delightful co-existence between friends
Who respect each other’s private realms
Only then the balance is just right, not skewing
Enough liberty to harbour love given generously
Without feeling oppressive, wrapped away in itself
Some friendships end bitterly though
And it is sad to see you go, cutting the bond
Of potential caring for another human soul
How whole we would all feel!
I found this wonderful awareness building interaction in Evolving Wisdom.
Essential Matters: A Quantum Practice
This is a simple practice to help you focus on your “essential matters” and the “essential matters” of those around you, consciously creating deeper connections in your life.
I’d like you to choose someone—it can be a friend, a colleague, or a stranger—and I challenge you to talk to them face to face, and do not allow the conversation to simply float upon the surface; push it deeper by asking questions that matter and that inspire compelling and passionate responses.
Ask about their favorite places in the world or in their homes and yards. Ask about the best things that ever happened to them. Ask about the objects they possess that mean the most to them, the books and movies they love and that have changed and formed them.
But don’t be satisfied with the simple answers to these questions; ask them why these things matter. Ask them to tell you the stories behind their answers.
And be prepared to answer those same questions yourself, and to tell your stories.
When we share our stories with one another, that is when we truly connect and recognize ourselves and the Universe in one another.
That is when we move beyond separation and opposition and into partnership and power and possibility.
I encourage you to try this practice every chance you get, and with everyone you know and meet.
I think you’ll find the experience to be profoundly elevating and inspiring every time you do it.
Sometimes we do the above without thinking, it is just natural to ask such bonding questions to show people they matter. With friends we need to keep such conversation going, for we all evolve and change. I don’t like to just scratch the surface, it is the depth that fills me with meaning.