What makes a friendship? What starts a friendship?
There are all manner of people, so it seems inevitable that there are all manner of friends. And what you think ‘makes’ a friendship may differ from my definitions. In fact, our very definitions of friendship may differ. One person’s friend may be another’s friendly acquaintance.
‘Laughter is the beginning of friendship; sorrow is its seal’ – words I scrawled rather loftily over a decade ago. Sounds a bit weird. What I meant was, sharing laughter is the beginning of friendship, sharing sorrow is the the sealing of friendship. I had a specific friend in mind I think, where the early days were full of giggles and shared jokes, a delight at similar senses of humour. But then came the day when we begun sharing our tears and our hurts – and thus entered a whole new level of friendship.
I’ve also known encounters where you start with laughing together and end with crying together all in one conversation – one of those ‘fast forward’ friendships I mentioned in my last post, somewhat rare and dependent on an automatic trust and honesty which allows for such deep emotional connections…
But not everyone will thrive on these deep friendships, preferring not to bare all and share all! And I have those I call friends who would not see this side of me.
Is it fair to say there are levels of friendship? I don’t want to make it sound like some are superior and some are inferior -echoing back to playground politics at school – where you were consigned to ‘best friend’, ‘second best friend’ and lived awkwardly under that label. ‘Power play’ can be at work here, and it can create deep insecurities. But there will be friends I share more deeply with because I have seen in them an understanding that allows for it. There are friends I share more deeply with because we have walked together through difficult times – and shared lunatic moments! There are friends I share more deeply with because they have made the effort to stay in touch when others did not bother.
I suspect we all form friendships in different ways – different from each other because we are individuals with our own ways of expressing, our own needs. Different even within ourselves because we identify those in our lives who would particularly appreciate certain things about us.
We can form friends through familiarity – seeing each other regularly. We can form friends because we have gone through similar experiences and helped each other through them. We can form friends because we see in someone else a likeness to ourselves. We can form friends because we see a difference from ourselves, one that is complementary. We can form friends because we have hope and faith in common, or because we have been through a stage of life where we were both developing and learning new things.
There is no single template.
Update: on reading this post, a friend (who comes under the ‘fast forward’ category!) mentioned this moment in the Big Bang Theory, which I link to here for your viewing pleasure (embedding is disabled): http://youtu.be/k0xgjUhEG3U
Next up: maintaining friendships, perhaps?