When it comes to friends and friendships, what crosses your mind? This is an area that can mean many different things to everybody. To some people, friends are simply people that you go out drinking with, or go to the movies with. To others, friends are people that you connect with on many different levels, and these people share many aspects of your life, and your in theirs. Friendships fall some where into that mix. I am not a psychologist, so I will not venture into that arena. But I will look into what these concepts mean to normal people.
Friends come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and whatever other category you may choose to place. But, it all boils down to one single concept. Very simply friends are people with whom you choose to share portions of your life with. Some obviously will be closer to you than others, and some casual acquaintances. Either way, these people help shape and define you as a person and as a human being.
As humans we are in constant need of other human contact, as such this makes social animals and our survival depends on the relationships formed. By survival I am referring to out emotional and psychological well being. Without the contact of friends, we as an animal tend to shrivel and die. We, like any other form of life depend greatly on the interactions we have with others. This is possibly the reason many people are isolated from others and choose to exist in a solitary manner.
Whatever the root cause may be, the effects are devastating to the human mental state. It is entirely possible as well that these people never learned how to make friends, or due to dysfunction within their family group dynamics, it was deemed improper to make friends. Whatever the root cause, it is important for us to offer our hands to these people and show them the possibilities of life and the joys and frustrations friends and friendships will bring. So let's look at types of friendships.
CASUAL: This refers to the types of friends that we simply go out and do different activities with. This may include going out and having a beer, going to the movies, going fishing, or some other form of recreation or activity. Shopping is often an occasion for casual friends to go out and socialize. The primary purpose of casual friendships is the social aspect.
BUSINESS: These types of friends are the friends you have at your respective place of employment. These are the people that you collaborate with and maybe have meals with. These types of friendships are often social as well, but less likely or common than casual types of friendships. Often times a business friendship will develop into other forms of friendships, although these can be somewhat destructive sometimes. We will look at this later.
SPIRITUAL: This type of friend is most often the friendships and or relationships we have with the people we attend religious services with. Commonly these are not of a more social nature. We tend to see these friends only at church, synagogue, temple, or other religious structure for the purpose of worship. We associate with these people to further our spiritual needs as well as to discuss spiritual matters. We also tend to only see these same people at other religious functions such as weddings and or funerals.
INTIMATE: These types of friends are our closest friends. They are our wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, and family. Intimate friendships are not just a sexual relationship, but they are also on a very deep emotional level as well. These are the friends we share all of our deepest secrets and desires with. We share our hopes and dreams with them, and we share our most personal life with them. Of course many of these friendships are sexual as well, as in the case of spouses, boyfriends, and girlfriends. Intimacy encompasses the physical, emotional, psychological, and social needs of every single one of us. It is the intimate friendships that encompass all of these aspects.
So what are the pros of friendships of any type? There are way too many to list, so I will just mention a few.
1) They are somebody we can talk too when we are stressed or upset.
2) They are people we can go out and have fun with, such as bowling or hiking.
3) They are people to shop with, like when looking for a new car or new clothes.
4) They are people who are there in a crisis, such as hospitalization, loss of a family member, or just being around to provide needed support.
5) They are there to give us advice on a dilemma or help direct with indecision.
6) They help when you move or need some heavy yard work done. There are but just a very small example of benefits of friendships.
Friendships can also be an exercise in patience and frustration. How often have you had your own friends ask to borrow something and it never seems to be returned, have a friend ask for money, have a friend call you at 3 am when he/she is intoxicated, ask you to help move, ask you for help with yard work, and so on. But in the end it is worth it. When everything is taken into consideration and within context, these very same friends are your lifeline to sanity, and you theirs.
There is one other type of friendship I decided to save for last, cause it just may be the most controversial and heated portion of this discussion. This is the toxic friendships. Toxic friendships are very poisonous and damaging to all persons immediately and peripherally surrounding the individuals. These are people that latch onto you for whatever reason. These types of friends always seem to insist on being near you, at your home, and generally desire to be wherever you are or seems to want to do whatever you are doing. I can't really call them friends, but no other category seems to fit.
One type of toxic friend would be the office lover. This is a situation when two people who work in the same place start out as casual friends, but over time strong feelings develop and a romance starts. Often this fling ends badly, and the results of which can be a venomous co existence. Another case may be that these same two people, instead of having a bad break up, instead become very much an item. This is a case in which everybody around them is affected. People tend to feel uncomfortable around these two people, and as a result distance themselves. As you can see, if we can not be careful about out interpersonal relationships with our friends, we just may lose some along the way.
Okay, this is all well and good, but to understand what a friend is we must also define friendship. Friendship can be viewed as a relationship between two people in which both parties find the presence of the other soothing and welcome. Another way to view a friendship might be the idea that friendship is a strong bond between two people in which their interpersonal relationships enhance each others.
So next time you are out with your friends consider this, "How did we begin our friendship, was it due to meeting in a work related situation, or were we introduced at a social gathering. Either way, what is the bond between us and why is it there? Why do I feel so much pleasure when they are around? How can they piss me off so much yet love them just as strongly? "We all define friendship differently. How we interpret this varies so greatly that it would take a poet to possibly describe the feeling to the level they should be expressed at.