Over the years I have been fortunate to have had a handful of people I could genuinely call "True Friends." To me, there is a difference between having "friends" and those considered True Friends. A True Friend is someone who not only shares your interests, but has a personality very compatible with your own. So much so, you are not afraid to share your personal thoughts and problems with him/her and respect their opinion. You laugh together, play together, share troubles together, and sometimes work together. In this respect, a True Friend becomes an extended part of your family. He/she may not be your spouse, but a True Friend will know you almost as well. True Friends serve an important purpose for our soul, to be a sounding board for our triumphs, our failures and frustrations, our sense of right and wrong, our insecurities, and our ambitions. From a self analysis perspective, a True Friend is vital to help satisfy our desire for guidance and approval. Such a sounding board is invaluable to our mental well-being. Family is one thing, True Friends are something else. The fact that a person comes from outside the family circle means they will have a different perspective and will offer you a fresh point-of-view that you will probably not find in your natural family.
Remarkably, there are many people who may have had plenty of friends, but never a True Friend. True Friendship requires trust and respect whereby you trust a person will not betray a confidence and you respect their judgment and opinion. To do so means you must reveal glimpses of your personality and character to your friend until you are convinced they will maintain your best interests and not ridicule or blab your inner thoughts to others. And herein lies the rub; some people are frightened by the mere prospect of ridicule or judgment by others, and thereby refuse to open their kimono to anyone, possibly even their spouses. Their deepest and darkest secrets stay locked up in their consciousness intermixed among many other frivolous insecurities. In other words, there is no release mechanism to relieve stress thereby inviting a variety of personality disorders, such as paranoia, persecution, rationalization, loneliness, etc.
I have known many people who could socialize well, but remained guarded over their personality and consequently had no true friends. While some exhibit narcissistic characteristics, I have met others who appeared rather normal, perhaps because they were supremely confident in their ability to make decisions and pass judgment. I have met others who desperately yearn for someone to talk to, other than their spouses, yet are frightened to confide in another person, regardless of how long they have known them. Such people can certainly be friendly, but they will drift through life never knowing what a True Friend is. Like a marriage, True Friendship requires give and take. In order to know more about another person, you have to give more of yourself. It is certainly not a one-way street.
True Friends do not abandon each other. Even if you physically move great distances away, the friendship remains intact. One of the benefits I have enjoyed with my True Friends is the ability to pick up where we left off. We may not have seen each other for years, but we intuitively know each other. If I telephone them, there is no pretenses, we just carry on from where we left off. We simply know each other too well.
True Friends fill a void we desperately need from a psychological perspective. The death of such a person can be as traumatic as the loss of a family member. A little bit of us dies with that person as our sounding board, our confidant, our inner thoughts are ultimately buried with that person.
You have to pity the people who have never experienced the joy of a True Friend.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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