Friendship is choice.
A choice to love someone not because of obligation.
It’s deciding to trust and extend yourself to be as accountable to them as they are to you.
Friendship is a celebration of your similarities and differences to others, and loving them for the ways your minds meet and the way they are astoundingly different.
To me, friendship is like ice-cream. Sounds stupid, but hear me out.
When I was about 5 years old, vanilla ice-cream was probably the best gift my tastebuds had ever received. Just plain ol vanilla ice-cream.
Plus it was like we had a never-ending supply of the stuff. But at that point I had no idea how incredibly diverse the world of ice-cream was.
Peanuts??? In ice-cream??? FRUIT??? Wow. Crazy.
Then when I was 7, I tried mango ice-cream for the first time.
Let me tell you, it was like my mouth had met it’s soulmate. That perfect mix of sweet n smooth just clicked with me.
The way I see it, when you’re so young and you’re so new to the world, you’re happy to be friends with everyone.
But there’s always those few pivotal moments that define who you wanna surround yourself with and who you wanna be.
I’ve tried endless amounts of ice-cream flavours and of course I like some more than others, just as I’ve met endless amounts of people and like some more than others.
Sometimes I discover a new flavour that I obsess over, but then grow tired of.
But mango is always the flavour I go back to
I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it. Who were your childhood friends? Some of my closest friends, though not all, are also my oldest friends.
I am still in touch with most of them and it’s simply irreplaceable to have friends who share your history and remember the child you once were.
To quote Mindy Kaling, a “best friend isn’t a person, it’s a tier”. I have a lot of people in my life I’d consider best friends and, for me, it’s not about the big moments,
it’s about the small ones. Responding to a worried text in the middle of the night, listening with interest when I’m worried, all those things add up.
As we age we know ourselves better, so the friends we make as we get older are in some ways meeting a truer version of ourselves, but it can be tough to make friends as we get older.
I think if we’re very lucky, in addition to picking up new friends as we go, we grow alongside our oldest friends.
Living abroad, I have to make it a priority to keep in touch and I’m not always as good at it as I’d like to be. Technology like Whatsapp and Facetime have made it a lot easier.
I’d say that women’s friendships are just different from men’s. I don’t think men are socialised to expect the same depth and breadth of friendship as women are.
I think if your “friend” is more interested in competing with you than anything else, it’s probably best to let that friendship fade.
What are the three things you look for in a friendship that is good for your health? I don’t need three things.
If I feel happier and more confident in myself after spending time with a person, I think that friendship is good for my health.
Of course we do. Friends are essential to mental health, particularly as they afford us the opportunity to spill our guts, empty our heads and float our maddest ideas to a (usually) non-judgmental audience.
A true friend is someone who makes you laugh like a drain, allows you to cry like a baby, knows when to be there with you and, importantly, when to leave you the hell alone.
My childhood friends were Gerard Siggins and Eamon Bohan. We were the Three Musketeers, largely due to each of our houses having ‘3’ as part of the door numbers.
I lost touch with them after primary as we didn’t go to the same secondary schools.
I have three best friends. It used to be four but, you know, death. Each of them plays a unique role in my life and I suppose I’d be inclined to keep them separate 99 per cent of the time, expert as I am in compartmentalisation.
I know I certainly wouldn’t be the same person I am today without their presence in my life.
It is normal to question your friendships and what they mean to you. If you find yourself questioning your friendships, a therapist might be able to guide you towards fostering better relationships.
A therapist can help you improve your overall well-being through relationship growth, as well as topics including social anxiety, loneliness, and much more.
Do your friends often disappoint you? Do they put you down all the time? Do they abandon you when you need them most?
If so, maybe it’s time to find a new definition of a true friend. Here are some of the things to look for when you choose the people you’ll trust with your friendship.
Someone who is a true friend stands up for you. When others try to hurt you emotionally or physically, they do everything they can to make sure you stay safe.
They don’t care who is trying to harm you; they will defend you anytime, anywhere. If they can help you, they’ll do it without reservation or reward.
A true friend is not one who repeatedly is telling you negative things other people say about you.
First, they make it clear by their words and by their actions where they stand when it comes to you. Secondly, they don’t just merely stand by silently when others are tearing you down no matter what consequences they may face socially.
A true friend is a friend when it is convenient and when it is not. They stand by you consistently both when you are present and when you are not.
True friends aren’t phony with you. They show you who they really are. They’re honest with you when it matters most.
They never try to deceive you to make themselves seem stronger, more successful, or better than they really are.
A true friend goes beyond the surface, as any true friendship requires some level of vulnerability.
When a friend opens up to you and shares their struggles and disappointments, it is a testament to the trust and value they place in you.
Having a friend who shows you that they trust you with their authentic self is a good indicator that you can do the same with them.
A true friend is not only honest about themselves, but they are also honest about you. They are able to have difficult conversations in telling you things that sometimes you may not be eager to hear.
The key is that they do it in love and with grace. They don’t tear you down. A true friend will hold you to a standard they know your character is worthy of.
A real friend accepts you as you are. They can encourage you to become a better version of you, but they also help you see the beauty in who you are right now.
They don’t get sidetracked by what others may say or think of you. Instead, they celebrate the you they’ve come to know.
Although a true friend may encourage you to make good decisions, they trust your judgment and respect your own personal judgments.
They don’t become passive aggressive when they give advice you don’t accept. Instead, they respect boundaries and value your feelings and thoughts.
They don’t push you to become who they want you to be. Instead, they celebrate what makes you uniquely you.
They accept your personal growth and evolutions along the way because the reasons they value goes far beneath your personal style, interests, profession, marital/relationship status, etc.
Real friendship means you can keep it real with me. When you don’t have to go around the truth in fear of hurting my feelings but telling me straight up in the most loving way you know how.
Friendship is when you love someone and think about them no matter how busy life gets.
When they make you laugh so hard you pee your pants (no joke this has happened to me too many times).
Friendship is not caring how you look or feel because your bestie will take care of you no matter what.
True friendship also means you have no shame, whether I’m talking too loud or dancing too hard you’re right by my side getting turnt with me haha.
True friendship to me is when you know the real me the chaotic me and still choose to love me
Friendship to me is the ghost on your front porch, no one can see them but you know they’re there to keep you company if you make time to sit with them on the steps.
Friendship is a privilege that shouldn’t be underestimated. Simply put, good friends are good for you.
Social interactions trigger all those feel-good vibes in your brain’s endorphin system.
There’s actual science behind this!
If you have enjoyable friendships and an active social life, you’re less likely to develop serious illnesses later in life and more likely to live long. Friendships may even be more effective at extending your life span than exercise!
The crucial point here is the nature of those relationships, and how they make you feel loved, cared for, and listened to.
Friendships can be a stronger painkiller than morphine and fulfilling relationships increase your pain tolerance
Having friends can help you better cope with stress and reduce your cortisol (stress hormone) levels
The quality of your friendships impacts cardiovascular diseases, your blood pressure, cancer recovery and wound healing
Good friends keep you from doing things that are bad for you, like smoking and heavy drinking (I’ll leave the late nights out in the middle here)
For women, friendships are more important than family
Friendships help keep your mind sharp and reduce your risk of dementia
I think there are fundamental differences between the quality of friendships we make as we go through life.
Our needs, interests and motivations change and, ideally, develop as we grow, and the quality and sometimes quantity of friendships we make will reflect those changes.
When it comes to deep, lasting friendships, I don’t think it matters when or where we meet them. What matters is how we feel when we are with them.
Maintenance is really not my strong suit and I’m certain I have neglected some friendships to the point of destruction in the past. I feel that women have the upper hand in maintaining friendships through thick and thin.
In no particular order: love, listening and laughter.
Absolutely. I love all my friends, but each friend brings something different and special to your life. With the right set of friends you have someone to be there for you, whether you need a good laugh or a good cry.
Loyalty. A true friend has your back. Who were your childhood friends? Are you still in touch with them? No. I couldn’t wait to get school over with. I moved on and rarely look back.
I have a motley crew of best friends and we’ve had many “interesting” times together. Our lives, ages and professions vary wildly but we are close.
For me, the friends I have made in my adult years have been the best friends. I suppose you are more fully formed and the friendships endure.
I make a conscious effort to keep in touch. Social media can make you lazy but it doesn’t do enough. I was titled the ‘Tour Manager’ at one stage for my fondness for organising get-togethers, nights out, and so on.
If you try to hang on to a friendship beyond its useful life, yes. You need to know when it’s only nostalgia that keeps you in touch, and not the value it adds to your current life.
Loyalty, a sense of humour and a corkscrew.
A false friend might push you to change for them. They might give you the feedback you want rather than the words that will actually help you.
A true friend acknowledges your feelings but at the same time points you towards a happier, healthier life.
A true friend is not complacent in your personal growth; they don’t passively sit by and watch you make choices that are not good for you.
They want to see the happiest and healthiest version of you. The encouragement to make the choice that will get you to want in life.
They learn the art of being your biggest cheerleader while holding you accountable to your goals as well.
Fairweather friends are with you when you’re happy and successful. Then, when things become challenging for you, they move on to the next happy, successful person.
A real friend, on the other hand, stays with you through traumas, disappointments, mental health crises, and physical illnesses.
They don’t abandon you just because it’s easier or more comfortable to avoid you. Because a true friend truly cares about you, they actually want to be there for you during your difficult times.
They care more about what you are going through more than they care about how fun you are. A friend isn’t around simply for the things you have in your life — they are around for you!
So when your life gets more challenging and you find yourself feeling pretty down or overwhelmed, you won’t have to go through these challenges alone with a true friend in your corner.
Everyone has their own ideal friend. In addition to the qualities shared by all true friends, you may want a friend who shares your interests or goals.
Or you might want to spend time with people who are different from you in ways that challenge you to grow as a person.
If your current friends let you down, redefining true friendship can open the door to a rich, rewarding relationship.
Much like our personal styles, we all may have different needs and desires when coming to friendship.
You may also come to recognize that some differences are able to support you in some areas of life while you may have another friend that you rely on for support in another area of your life.
Expanding the friendships that make up your support system can help ensure that your needs are adequately being met.
No friend is perfect, and no friend will be able to be everything to you. Even true friends will sometimes disappoint us.
What matters most is how they respond to your feelings and the patterns they establish. Have the disappointments you are experiencing in your friendship become habits?
A true friend cares about you. They’re able to have concern and respect for your thoughts and emotions even when they may not agree.
If the disappointment you are experiencing in a friendship has become consistent, it may be time to redefine your definition of a true friend.
Talking to a professional therapist can help you understand where you are going wrong as you choose your friends.
The therapist can offer you a sound psychological basis for recognizing and nurturing the friendships that will improve your life and bring you happiness and peace now and in the future.
It only takes a moment to reach out for help. When you do, you can start your journey towards satisfying friendships with real friends.