Few words are more commonly and spontaneously used than the word “friend.” We use it all the time. Our “friends” are everywhere: school, work, neighborhood, etc. Yet we seldom contemplate the virtues one exudes to win this honor of being our friend. Here are five crucial, yet hard to decipher, traits our true friends possess.
1.They know our tricky sides--and they are OK with them.
Although we fail to admit it publicly and honestly, we are perpetually suffering. We assiduously and painstakingly polish our images to fit certain criteria: a cheerful, resilient, composed personality. But our day to day routine consists of many desperate attempts not to sound or look insane and foolish. Our friends, however, are well aware of our tricky sides, hence our core personalities. That’s why we don’t hesitate to express the full array of emotions amongst our friends: anger, doubt, fear, jubilance, jealousy. They precisely become our friends for this reasons: because they know us from the inside rather than the outside-- they know we are sad, gloomy, and anxious pretty much all the time, and they are okay with it, hence us.
2. They are there when it is really difficult.
Without a doubt, our laughs and good times are mostly and intensely shared with our friends. But our friends also unfailingly offer the shoulder we cry on when things are going adrift. When our hearts are broken, and our minds are baffled, they seldom focus on the technical details of our problems, but they illuminate the emotions we attach to those problems, and they-- rightly so-- inquire about and amplify them. They are more than willing to jump and rescue us from the viciousness of our situation-- even if drowning were a possibility.
3. They are not nice to us.
Most of us experience it: our friends are rather mean to us, but their meanness is different than that of strangers. Their meanness stems from a committed, unwavering honesty, one that allows us to distinguish between the what is true and what is a merely spurious compliment. When we inquire about the state of our hair, our friends unhesitatingly might express, “you look like someone who had his hair licked by a desperate cow.” On the other hand, they are the heroes who point out the truth to us when nobody dares to do so.
4. Separation for a while does not diminish the value of the friendship.
The separation will almost always be inevitable, but the reunion is also almost always smooth and pleasant. What makes the reunion this joyful is the realities, rather than the potentialities, that our friends shared with us: all the memories, conversations, foolishness, etc. The authenticity of the friendship will be revealed in the reunion: the survival of the loyalty that allowed one not to forget about the nobility and significance of their friends, which allows one to solidify the memory that will be elicited when the reunion arrives.
5. They care about who we are, rather than what we are.
The strength of friendships is rarely contingent upon the content of our business cards, which we summon at a party to impress strangers. Rather, the strength is amplified by the absolute commitment on the part of our friends to respect and admire us despite our extravagant accomplishments and possessions. Before our friends, we surrender and expose our true selves, not the images we meticulously painted to impress the world. As opposed to the seemingly composed image we present to the world, before our friends we are genuinely human: we are at times happy, morose, angry, vengeful, jealous, confused, and anxious. In short, they love us for our humanness.