People are social beings. We cannot live on our own because we depend on other people’s support, advice, and the intimacy we develop with them. Friendships are a staple of human development. People have been relying on their friends since ancient times, but this phenomenon is not immune to society evolution. Today’s relations between friends are affected by modern trends, but the main principles of true friendship remain the same.
Children have friends before they can even express themselves. When they play with kids and grownups, the relationships are based on honesty, feelings, and sympathy. Children do not have hidden agendas; they do not need to pretend to be someone’s friends for the sake of getting favors. Unfortunately, the relationships between friends become affected by dishonesty as years go by. Children’s friendships are characterized by trust, honesty and play; but the majority of relations between teenage friends defined by gossip, parties and popularity. The spiritual connection between childhood friendships is often ruined in this period of life. People take different paths when they start attending college, and the friendships there are based on “having good times”. As people grow old, some of them understand the value of real friendships, but most of them continue making friends based on interest.
People have a natural tendency towards developing friendships. We are not born selfish and anti-social; we are made that way because the trends of contemporary society dictate putting our personal interests as priority. There is no other way to survive in today’s competitive world. If we observe how children behave with their friends, we will be able to see what true friendship is all about. Kids sometimes fight and get mad, but those feelings are part of honest friendships too. Children are vulnerable and have expectations that are not always met, but still remain inseparable with their best friends. As kids, we had wisdom and knowledge that faded with the years. We now define vulnerability as “emotional exposure” and risk that should be avoided at all costs. That’s why we avoid making honest friendships and preserve the ones that are based on status and mutual interests.
Friendships are meaningful, but complex relationships that are not characterized with unconditional trust and forgiveness. Although the bond is deep, it requires effort and devotion to be preserved. Just as a marriage, a real friendship is worth working on. We knew how to make friends that lasted when we were kids, so that’s where we need to go back to in order to understand the principles of real friendship. In its essence, the concept of friendship hasn’t been affected by social growth. Kids are the proof of that.
Without real friends, we feel an emptiness that cannot go away by partying, gossiping and other shallow aspects of today’s relationships between people. The dramatic changes in the way people live and communicate with each other have made an obvious effect on friendships. Although preserving a valuable friendship is a daunting task, there should be no misunderstanding about the way friends should act. Contemporary life has made us believe that connections don’t last, but a real bond is preserved in the same way as it ever was. We can find the principles of true friendship in the play between two children, in Tolstoy’s novels and traditional proverbs – they have still remained the same.