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The Importance of Friendship

Friendships are a crucial part of living a fulfilling life.

Key points

  • Friendship makes life more enjoyable and enriches one's everyday experiences.
  • Finding friends can be challenging but can be often achieved by approaching others with mutual interests.
  • The first criteria one should look for in a partner is someone who is ultimately a good friend to them.
Photo by Antonino Visalli on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Antonino Visalli on Unsplash

As we move through life, we find that there are many things out of our control. We can’t choose our parents, our genetics, or control the things that happen in the world around us. One thing that we can control is who our friends are, and this decision can either make our lives so much richer and beautiful, or more stressful and disappointing. Today we’ll focus on how to choose friends who enrich our lives and make them more beautiful.

Why friends are so important

Having solid friendships is important for two main reasons. First, they make life more enjoyable. We get to share the beautiful aspects of life with people who we love, which can enrich our everyday experiences. Second, our friends help us through the difficult times. Having friends to support us through hard times can make unimaginably difficult situations seem more tolerable.

The most beautiful part about pouring our time and energy into friendships is that not only do friends help enrich our lives, but we enrich theirs too! Friendships get us through the tough times in life, make things more fun and enjoyable, and all-around make our lives better. I urge you to take stock of your friendships and ask yourself if your current friends people build you up and support you, or is the friendship more one-sided?

As we explore friendships today, these are also inclusive of our partners. I believe that the foundation for any healthy relationship is friendship. So it’s important to group our romantic partners into this conversation too.

So, where do we find friends? This might sound silly, but finding friends can be challenging! When I first moved to California for my Ph.D., I didn’t have any friends out here. There were quite a few people in my program that I enjoyed spending time with. But, towards the end of school, they became very busy and were no longer able to dedicate time to hang out anymore. Thankfully, through the help of a very good therapist, I learned that it was important to enjoy life instead of striving for excellence all of the time. As a result, I learned how important it was to carve out time in my life for friends.

Unfortunately, the people I had dedicated time to thus far were achievement-oriented and were pouring their time into work and not our friendships. This forced me to seek out other ways to form connections with people. I ended up finding a local hiking group with the hopes of meeting people with similar interests. During one of these hikes, I met Jim, one of my best friends to this day.

We became instant friends. We have continued to support each other over the years, and even more importantly, we always make time for one another. We both view the friendship as one that makes each other’s lives better, therefore it’s always worth the time and energy. The backbone of any successful friendship is one where both sides put in equal effort and support.

Both Jim and I were forced to put in more effort when he moved across the country to the East Coast. Because we already had such a strong foundation, this didn’t impact our friendship. We talk all of the time and see each other several times a year. We make the relationship a priority no matter what coast each other is on. Like anything in life that is valuable to us, we must work at it and put time and effort into it.

When it's time to move on from a friendship

The second part of the friendship discussion can be a difficult one — reassessing your current friendships and potentially moving on from friends who don’t add value to your life.

Two of my best friends from high school went down different paths from me. We still keep in contact, but I don’t spend too much time with them anymore. The supporting, loving part of our relationship wasn’t there anymore, so it was no longer worth putting energy into maintaining a friendship that had changed so much.

This may be a story you can relate to. What I hope you take away from this post is this — friendships take energy, time, and commitment. And if you’re putting your time and energy into someone who isn’t enriching your life and giving you the support you need, it may be time to reevaluate that friendship.

If you find yourself in the market for friends (who isn’t?) I recommend you find groups or activities that you genuinely enjoy. This way you’ll have the opportunity to connect with people who have similar interests. And once you’re there, take a risk! Talk to people, exchange contact information, and follow up with them. It may feel scary at first, but the reward outweighs the momentary uncomfortable feeling you may have.

Friendship and dating

In many ways, the most important friendship in our lives is the one we have with our romantic partners. The first criteria we should look for in this partner is someone who is ultimately a good friend to us, meaning that they are kind, positive, loving, and supportive. If we’re dating someone and they’re a jerk, it’s probably safe to assume that they’re not a good friend. To avoid this, I recommend seeking out someone who is a good friend first, i.e. before the romance and sexual stuff gets in the way.

When there are bumps in a friendship or a romantic relationship, it’s important to work through those tough times. The tricky part is that it will take two people to fix that issue. We can only control our actions and hold ourselves accountable, but we cannot control our friend or our partner's reaction. In addition to our own actions, we have control over the friends or partners that we choose in the first place. If we prioritize choosing good people who we can trust will work through issues with us, then we can work through anything.

Friendships are a crucial part of living a fulfilling life. It’s so important that we surround ourselves with people who we have fun with, who support us, and people who make us better. You may already have beautiful friendships in your life, but if you’re still in the market for friends, it’s never too late to cultivate new relationships that will make your life even more magnificent.

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