It's about far more than simply getting along well.
The bond of friendship brings us great satisfaction and joy by giving us the opportunity to share experiences, emotions, ideas, and even joint projects. The support, tenderness, solidarity, trust, appreciation and many other positive feelings we find among friends make life a lot more enjoyable.
Although friendships are born from sharing joint interests, and we tend to look for friends who are like us in some way, deep friendships aren’t solely based on sympathy, having similar tastes, or just getting along well. Friendship is much more enriching when we’re also friends with people who are, to some extent, unlike us.
It’s possible to have many differences of interests and opinions without that being a source of conflict if we can recognize and appreciate the richness of that diversity. Even if we disagree on important issues, friendship can flourish if there’s sincerity and a shared pursuit of goodness.
Above all, empathy, or the ability to put oneself in the other’s shoes, is what really sustains a close friendship. Empathy allows friends to understand each other’s sufferings and difficulties, and to accompany each other in both sorrows and joys.
Know how to cultivate deep friendships
A true commitment between friends implies constantly cultivating the relationship. It doesn’t drop out of thin air, and it can’t be maintained haphazardly. If we want to create or renew deep friendship we have to invest time, keep the other person in mind, and use various channels of communication.
Not all friends share the same way, or communicate the same. There are some who keep up strong ties without needing to see each other constantly. For others, it’s really necessary to get together frequently. In any of these cases, friendships need to be taken care of and stimulated. Friendships that are based only on a temporary interest rarely last.
Deep friendships tend to have these things in common:
- Loyalty in all circumstances. It’s the essence of friendship
- Generosity, sharing one’s time
- An attitude of unconditional availability
- Constancy in the relationship, both in easy and tough times
- Tolerance and respect in the relationship, because nobody is perfect
- Empathetic support at all times
The quality of a true friendship is the quality of life
According to researchers at the University of California at San Diego, genes influence our choice of friends. The researchers found that people tend to create friendships with people who are more genetically similar to themselves; they tend to have as much genetic information in common as 4th cousins, even if they aren’t actually related.
But friendships aren’t just a genetic issue. At root, it’s about cultivating and developing an openness toward others and actively seeking the best possible quality of life based on good relationships and friendships.
Some practical tips to cultivate a deep friendship …
- Always be truthful
- Keep secrets you were told in confidence
- Respond to friends’ requests for their true needs
- Know how to laugh and cry with them
- Never judge them, especially without verifiable or serious reasons
- Accept their defects
- Be open enough to see when there are serious errors
- Know how to listen
As human beings, our true wealth and quality of life is measured above all by the quantity and quality of the friendships we have in our lives.
"Since you are here...
…we'd like to have one more word with you. More and more of you are reading Aleteia, and we are excited to be a part of your life! Our team proves its mission every day by working to encourage and inspire Christian life. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge — but quality journalism has a cost...more than ads can cover. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable.