What True Friendship Really Looks Like

Ian Schneider
Ian Schneider

My best friend recently told me that when we meet, it can only be to “do fun stuff together such as work out, eat, or laugh.”

That was the extent of what we were allowed to do. She explained that she could only be there for me when she wanted to, on her own terms, and that I needed to accept that. Initially, this broke my heart. I thought that she was my “best friend”, my future maid of honor and godmother to my future tribe of children, who I could always call when life feels tough.

Obviously, I was completely wrong.

And, at this point in my life, I want more than someone to eat guac and chips with at a local Guapo’s restaurant.

A best friend is not a title, because in reality, there are no rules nor an explicit description for what a best friend is or isn’t. There definitely is no guide book. However, she stated exactly how she will treat me and even though it hurt, she made her choice and I am not allowed to demand more. Luckily, over my adult years, I have collected a motley crew of wonderful and dynamic folks who have become the type of true friends that I always dreamed of; true friends who embody a sense of non-blood family.

In Japanese, there is a word, “kenzoku”, which means “family” and is used for people who have made the same type of commitment through their friendships. It’s these bonds, described by “kenzoku”, that are the most meaningful and tangible; where time and distance will never diminish the strength of the friendship.

As an adult, I feel that quite often, I am now facing “the hard stuff”, like when a family member dies, when you lose your job, when you have a miscarriage, or you experience an extraordinarily difficult breakup or divorce, etc. These events don’t fall on a timed schedule (as much as we wish that they would) and they’re not exactly times to celebrate with sombrero hats and Jose Cuervo shots.

True friends come together and bond over common interests, shared history, common value-systems, and honorable relational equality. These friends are truly committed to your happiness and will never ask you to compromise on your principles. Moreover, they will always inspire you and be a good influence. And, when times are tough, they won’t limit your interactions to guac, margaritas, and superficial conversations.

This circle of true friends will remind you of who you are, what you stand for, and what you love.

In Psychology, this is defined as a self-object; something or someone that helps you define yourself through its existence. This inner circle represents a form of self-object because when you are with them, you are vulnerable,  your true self is exposed, and it is reinforced and supported. Lastly, it’s these beautiful friends that remind you that you are valuable and meaningful in this life; this is true friendship and true kenzoku.

And even when these friends invite me out to Tex-Mex, I go because I know that I’ll be leaving with a full belly, mind, heart, and spirit. TC mark

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