(taken from my article of the same name on Relationship.Answers.com )
A woman I know recently celebrated her birthday unhappily. Her personal celebration was doing nothing except watching reruns of TV shows and eating cookies—alone. Her Facebook page had numerous birthday wishes, which made her feel remembered—sort of. Her family is scattered, so her family celebration was minor.
Birthday celebrations are not the topic. The point about this woman’s birthday is that she has not built friendships that sustain her, so when her birthday rolls around, she doesn’t have friends to join her celebration. Other times in the year, she also feels the lack of camaraderie.
This post explores facets of friend-investment.
Friends and family can be one and the same. People who are close to their family members usually rely on them for celebrations, assistance, and friendship. A family that has nurtured caring communication is the support ensuring consistent company and connection. Distance does not sever the bonds formed between loving family members, and today’s modes of communication enrich and enable support from afar.
Friends from convenience
School, work, shared-interest groups, shared distressing incidents or traumas. These places and events provide opportunities to meet friends for life or to experience the moments in unison for a defined period of time. Friends for life are possible when both parties invest relatively equally in the relationship. Short-term friends also require investment, but they lack the ingredient of heartfelt fondness that long-term friendship requires. Enjoying people for the short term is worth the effort, and should not be avoided.
People need friends to help them live. Living is not possible without companionship. Even people who eschew human contact require friends in some form, be it an animal or a plant.
The need for friends is a design issue. People were designed to desire company. People were designed to share experiences, thoughts, and emotions. People were designed to bond and to care. Ill treatment by caregivers or other trusted community members can damage bonding and caring, but the design is the design.
Sharing thoughts and emotions requires feelings of security and trust. A friend who is trustworthy is friendship real. Trustworthiness is not uncommon; most people can be trustworthy. What is required is finding friends who value each other. Valuing one another leads to long-term relationships and to support that is dependable.
Partner as friend
Friendship does not require cohabitation or feelings of desire. Pairing with another does require living together and desiring each other. Being in a relationship with another person is similar to friendship, but differs because of sexual attraction and expectations. A partner who fulfills the requirements of a friend is valuable. Being a partner and a friend is sometimes contradictory although not impossible. The requirement for this relationship is motivation: motivation to support, appreciate, accommodate, and accept.
Having a partner who is friend-worthy does not reduce the need for other friends. A friend-worthy partner is fortunate, but the twists and turns of life can undo the partnership, and friends outside the partnership are necessary for long-term support.
“Investing in friendships and giving and taking from friends is nourishing. Investing in relationships is natural and is needed to live a balanced life. Investing in family—children, children’s children, siblings, cousins, and so on builds a network of support that is reliable.” …from Oneself–Living.
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