I remember reading something by Marguerite Yourcenar who was asked how one makes friends:  This is what she replied.

(Your question calls to mind a charming passage from a book by Montherlant. Surprised that a little girl has not given her cat a name, someone asks,  “But how do you call him?” The little girl answers, “ I don’t call him. He comes when he wants.” So, too, do friends often come to us through the most improbable of chances.)

Friends, some folks say are the relatives we (finally) get to choose. One would think then that friendships would be the most wonderful thing around to keep us all happy ever after; I mean if we get to choose our friends then we’d surely get the best tailor made deal in town, wouldn’t we? But Oops!  that’s unfortunately not the case every time. The entire business of friends and friendships is not so simple. There are good times to hold on to which make you feel friends – there’s no way you can live without em’, while the bad times make you feel there’s no way you can live with em’.

So! Just what is a good friend. Someone with whom who you feel comfortable with, who you trust and around whom life feels like a ball. A good friend is an asset, a true gift from God. Did I hear a few sighs? Are you one of those thinking Oh yeah! Get real! That happens in only books………very very idealistic and romantic books! When things get rough in the friendship business , when hurt and betrayal is what we face especially at the hands of a friend who we thought  was oh-so-special, life does seem to stink with a capital S. But life doesn’t end there does it? Yes! There are good and  bad friends and most of us have had situations after which we vow to stay away from getting close to anyone. To clear ourselves a little, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of friendships. Just what is idealistic and what is reality. We never start off, making friends with someone we don’t feel good about, do we? Friendships going sour are sooooo sad because it’s  hard to understand why something that starts off in such a exciting way has to feel so bad in the end.  Do we change? Do our friends change? It’s hard to come up with an answer to a question like this. We have to understand that all friendships just do not stand the test of time. Sometimes people just drift away painlessly while sometimes it is with a gut wrenching feeling that people are torn apart.

So, if ups and downs are a part of being friends with someone and  developing and holding on to a friendship is no Cinderella’s ball, what is it that  makes some friendships successful, while others miserable failures. To answer that lets take a look at what a good friend really means to most of us.

A good friend is your equal, who accepts you as you are, but does try to help and guide you if they feel you are on the wrong track.

Beware of friends however, who try to control you.  Similarly, if you try to win a friend over, you’ve got to analyze your intentions. Being controlled or trying to control someone is not the stuff that friendships are made of.

Honesty is next. There can be no friendship if honesty is missing. Sometimes, people have very different notions about honesty. A slight fib is no big deal for some people while it may be a big issue for you. If it keeps cropping up and causes you hurt, it may be best to simply move on. Forgiveness is also very very important. If someone is truly sorry for something they have done to you, forgive and forget, say “Life is too short to be small” and move on. You may discover a greater closeness than before.

Expectations! Are altogether pretty dangerous things if you ask me. Sometimes our needs may not be met by a friend because they just don’t know how to. So it’s best to simply ask for what you want, and not consider it the end of the world if your wish is not granted…. And while you are at it, do remember to watch out for unrealistic expectations. Most unrealistic expectations are those that we should really be taking care of ourselves. Surprisingly, although we all need to depend on our friends now and then, you stand a much better chance of building a really good friendship if you have basically learned to care of your self.

Good friends are good listeners and know how to share themselves. If you can laugh a lot and brave out the rough patches together, you’ve got a friendship on your hands to care of.

Bad friends are bad news! The only  indicator of judging a bad friend is finding out how they really make you feel.

If you end up doing things, which you know are wrong but you go along just because they’re’ cool and you appear uncool just because you’re not going along with the crowd, keep away. Such people can never be friends. Bad friends do not know the meaning of the word trust. They let you do down, blab about your secrets to the whole town and in general give friendship a bad name.

Like every “alive’ thing, a relationship also ‘lives’ in the present. Confidence, trust, understanding thrown in with loads of laughter helps build this magic. Happy Friendships to all of you out there.

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