What Makes A Friendship?

When you connect with someone else, it can feel like magic. The start, and the deepening, of a friendship can feel both natural and exhilarating.

And yet, defining what exactly “friendship” means is not easy. For example, you want some common interests, or you won’t have a similar frame of reference. On the other hand, you can’t be too similar, or else you have nothing to learn from each other.

Similarly, in order to be friends, you need to enjoy each other’s company. So both have to be interesting (at least to each other), but one can’t overshadow the other.

You might have a friend who doesn’t like the same music as you. Or movies, or books, or TV shows. A friend might have a completely different job, or marital status, or be in a different economic tier. Or be a different height, have different skin color, or hail from a different religion or political party.

So what is necessary for friendship to arise between two people? And what is needed for that friendship to grow and strengthen? What makes a friendship?

Related questions: What makes a good friend? What qualities do you look for in a friend? Who are your most interesting friends? How can we become better listeners?


1 thought on “What Makes A Friendship?”

  1. I nabbed the qualities below from a 23 March 2015 ‘Psychology Today” blog post by Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D. “The 13 Essential Traits of Good Friends” articulate what would make me a candidate for a friendship:

    1. I am trustworthy.
    2. I am honest with others.
    3. I am generally very dependable.
    4. I am loyal to the people I care about.
    5. I am easily able to trust others.
    6. I experience and express empathy for others.
    7. I am able to be non-judgmental.
    8. I am a good listener.
    9. I am supportive of others in their good times.
    10. I am supportive of others in their bad times.
    11. I am self-confident.
    12. I am usually able to see the humor in life.
    13. I am fun to be around.

    A couple of commenters demanded the addition of mutual respect to the list.

    And I have a three things I would add as well:

    1. I think a good friendship requires at least some shared interest or shared experience, even if that is only an engaging introduction to each other.
    2. You must also have something in your communication style that your friends find fun, interesting, and/or engaging.
    3. A close friend is someone you can almost immediately start up a good conversation with even though you may not have seen them for quite some time.

    Per usual, I turn many of these post comments into an opportunity for self-reflection. And so, I think I fare pretty well on these qualities, except, sometimes, on being dependable, non-judgmental, and self-confident, as well as having an engaging communication style.

    To compensate, first, I need to play to my strengths. Second, with the help of my therapist as well as my spouse, I need to work on my self-confidence. Third, I need to use my strength as a good listener and my abilities as a cheerleader to improve my communication style. Lastly, I need to regularly evaluate myself on dependability and being non-judgmental.

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