What maketh a friend?

Reading a piece on a friend’s private blog made me resonate so much with what she said that I had to write about it. She was musing about what makes friends and who are acquaintances.

As I let my mind wander down the alleyways of time, I realized there are a lot of people I call friends and I really mean it. I know there are some people who are very picky about whom they call friends. For me, if I know you and a part of your extended family then no two ways about it – you are my friend. I wonder if it stems from the fact that I open up easily and therefore trust people who share their lives with me. I still remember people I connected with when I was all of four or five years old and think of them fondly. For each stage in my life I have a set of people that I associate with friendship. What that means though is that there are very few acquaintances. Almost like all or nothing. And it does not mean that I have to be in touch with them often. These are the people I can meet after years and still pick up and carry on like the gaps in communication never existed.

On a different note, I believe as I grow older my capacity to make new friends diminishes. In the few years after college and initial years at work, I have probably made a handful or friends and rediscovered old ones. I wonder if it is because as we grow, the criterion for new relationships change.

As for acquaintances, I haven’t thought too much about it. While I mull it over, I’d be glad to hear from you.

18 comments

  1. I agreeee sooo much with you on “I believe as I grow older my capacity to make new friends diminishes. ”

    You cannot beat your old friendships and the good old times that you have always shared. I cherish the best moments that I have always had is with my really old friends who are even more dear to me today.

    Cheers..Good one.

  2. Well, I guess as we grow older, our capacity to trust or open up diminishes…it is not so much our capacity to make new friends as such… This is my take on that. If we put away our mind blocks, I am sure we can make good friends as we grow older too. Most of my friends are those I made when I was in school/college, though I have quite a few friends I have made since then too…a lot recently too πŸ™‚ Maybe, I still have lessons to learn about trust πŸ˜‰

  3. I guess age brings in closedness…while we are younger we are more open and we trust a lot…if we observe …for situations we react now…we wouldn’t have even given a secong thought in younger days…we get rigid..I guess…and of acquaintances…this statistics rose higher after I started working…else it was largely a friends filled life… πŸ™‚

  4. Goodness, as I read this it was like listening to my own thoughts.
    I feel sad though that it becomes more difficult to make good friends as we grow older. I have thought very hard whether my criteria for friendship has changed, and I have come to the conclusion that it hasn’t. In my opinion at least I feel I am open, I am accepting. But maybe I just haven’t met the right people…or maybe fewer people are open after a certain age…they tend to stereotype you.
    I don’t know.
    After that age of 35 I have not made a good friend but I survive very well with my old ones! But they are not always around and I wish I could share that something with someone who is say a neighbor…I am a people junkie!

  5. I think new friendships require nurturing and for that you have to invest some time into it. As we grow up, we take more commitments and priorities, which makes time a precious commodity. In the limited time we have, we take comfort in playing the “catch up” game with established friendships or relationships.

    But I also thought about how the definition of friendship itself has broadened. I have made some really good friends through my own blog and blogs that I visit. People that I can connect with and relate to, but will probably not meet in my life (like pen pals). But friends nevertheless.

    I don’t think my trust factor or how open I am to new people in my life have changed. But my own personal disposable time has changed.

    I enjoyed reading the post πŸ™‚

  6. @Deepa: Welcome! Thanks for leaving your thoughts. It is true that I cherish time spent with old friends.
    @Aparna: Good way of looking at it. May be it has to do with changing natures and personalities
    @Rupa: True. I wonder as we grow older we think more about what “others” think and therefore are not as free or open as we were when we were children?
    @Nita: I was nodding my head reading your comment. You summed it beautifully! Am a people junkie too and long for a best friend in a neighbour. The kind you can call up or go over anytime of day or night
    @Suman: You open up a new line of thought. Whether virtual or in person I believe a lot of friendships are forged based on how well you ‘relate’ to the person or the voice behind the blog. If we were to perceive the blogger as a mysterious clinical sounding persona I doubt if we will be able to call them friends. For instance if I did not believe a warm human was behind the words, my sense of ‘relation’ to the content being posted will be lesser. A mental image is created from all the thoughts being shared. Another reason why I can never be a non-personal blogger. I just can’t cloak myself in mystery and talk of abstract things that will reveal nothing of the real me.

    Guess it all boils down to personality types.

  7. A question that made me ponder. I am one of those types who don’t call someone a friend very easily. My boundaries are very marked and strict – end result I know a lot of acquaintances and very few friends, but the few are the ones that I cherish and hold very dear. But I agree with you that as we grow older our capability to make more friends diminishes – this I feel is due to the fact that we don’t have a lot of time to spend with them to build the foundation for a lasting friendship and of course, changing priorities. Once you have a family, friends become a not-so-first priority. My 2 cents…

  8. Speaking from the clinical side, we have feelings too. I grow to love the people that I work with. Haven’t we all had a person so precious that helped us through a trying time in our lives?
    I have, and my therapist touched so many parts of my life, being a model, validating situations that I couldn’t have shared with any other, helping me explore my ideas and decide for myself what works and what to discard. So, she gave me the reassurance I needed to help me to be the best that I can be.
    Friends, however are very special, and it is a very special friend indeed who can not let the gaps of time create a distance. That is a joy.
    About making less friends when older, family or work busy-ness could be a lot of what that is about. It is kind of hard to meet new people when we get set in our day-in day-out beaten paths, unless we’re adventurous and create places to meet new people, and do that enough times to “let them in”.
    Thanks for opening this up!

  9. Hi Laksh. This is a topic that is always close to my heart. At the moment, I am in a dilemma about “friendships” (again!) because of how a certain something has turned out with a new-but-good friend that I had made over the past one year. As I don’t have many “good friends” I often wonder if I self-sabotage when it comes to making good friends. This has left me with sleepless nights, especially over the last week……

    Well, that is how life is, isn’t it. …. Full of questions… πŸ™‚

    Spillay xx
    http://spillay.wordpress.com

  10. This post really made me wander down memory lane… you are so right, i tend to hold on to old friendships and cherish them rather than making new ones πŸ™‚ I think as we get older we tend to be more “judgemental” – and decide one way or the other. Much unlike what we were when in school/college. Also I am of the very strong opinion that for any relationship to work (be it friendship, marriage or even a child!!) there has to be some amount of time/effort invested on the relationship to work and as you grow older priorities change (and we tend to focus more on family etc) However the good thing is the “old investment” still pays πŸ™‚ and just returns better dividend πŸ™‚

  11. @Meeta: Thanks for de-lurking πŸ™‚ Well! you were my inspiration πŸ™‚
    @Skosh: Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. It is true that we do not travel off beaten paths in our lives to meet and find new people to be friends with.
    @spillay: I love the term self-sabotage. In essence I believe you are trying to listen to yourself. I honestly feel relationships work only because we share and let a part of ourselves reside in the other person
    @Nita: Wow! that is so cool! May be we could meet some day too πŸ™‚
    @Maggie: Totally agree with you. Looks like the common consensus is that time and effort required in cultivating and maintaining a new friendship becomes rare as we immerse ourselves in the routine that is our everyday life.

  12. It’s just amazing to read this. I was thinking the other day that ten years ago I had more friends than I have now. This is because I will turn 50 this year and am thinking of what to do. Do I celebrate with my family and friends or do I get away somewhere with my husband and celebrate in privacy at a beautiful place somewhere in the world! When I turned 40, I invited 100 people to a party, with a jazz-band and drinks, food and fun. I don’t see that happen now πŸ˜‰
    The fact is – we do make friends in school, at a workplace or if we join some clubs. I have been to school recently and made some friends but we don’t meet that often and I have joined a golf-club but I’m just getting to know few people there, so far. None of these I would invite to party, yet.
    I agree with you that we tend to immerse ourselves in a routine, it takes too much effort in changing the everyday life πŸ™‚
    It’s then a thought – do I really like to change things or what?
    Sometimes I wonder…

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