It strikes me that the definition of “friend” has become a bit like the definition of “love.” There are so many different meanings, it can be hard to know for sure what is being communicated. Both words at their most sincere are the gifts of life, but it seems the real meaning is getting lost in a sea of social media “Likes” and “Friends” where quantity out ranks quality.(Yes, dog shows really are like that movie.)
A frequent point of discussion in therapy sessions is how friends affect people in their recovery work, good and not so good, and how recovery affects friendships. Twelve-step groups teach that for a recovering addict to return to their user friends is an all but guaranteed sabotage of the recovery work. It’s no different in other types of therapy, but how do you know which friendship is healthy and which is not?
- A Real Friend is someone who you know has your back, no matter what, and you have his. This is someone you are safe to be yourself with. You can agree to disagree and then go out for a pizza. You can say something stupid and it’s funny instead of an indictment of your I.Q. You can say something profound and brilliant and it’s because you’re smart, not because you’re showing off. You can go for months, maybe years without seeing one another, but when you do it’s as if not a minute has passed.
- A Real Friend is not envious or jealous. She is happy for your successes and sad for you when you are sad, as you are for her. Real Friends can be counted on for support, not judgment. Helpful friends don’t offer unsolicited advice, instead, they listen, and you do the same in return.
- People who understand that to have a good friend you must to be a good friend tend to be those who also understand the value of being a friend to themselves.
- Real Friends do not come in the hundreds. Real Friends are a small group of treasured people who have earned our love and appreciation over time. These relationships grow on a foundation of trust and become better with time, kind of like a fabulous bottle of good wine. If you can only count a few of these people in your life, then those few are worthy of celebration. Today may be a good day to tell them.