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To Be Friends Is to Want to Know Them


FriendshipTo have a friend, you should be curious about the other person. Even if you are both in the same social circle and have a lot in common, there are lots of things you don’t know about each other. Part of friendship is being curious about the other person, because you are interested in this person, and because (s)he is worth learning more about. Often, we feel as if someone is taking our measure and deciding whether or not we could be friends based on where we fit into society. This is just something humans do, but to have a true friend, our interest needs to go beyond this initial vetting. This potential friend is carrying a unique perspective on the world. It would be interesting to know more about that.

To have a friend, you should have an attitude of acceptance towards the other person – not a list of demands. We have all met people who have let us know that to be their friend, we have to remember his/her birthday in a certain way, show we care in a certain way, and basically conduct the friendship along acceptable proscribed guidelines. How different it is to accept people as they are at any given point in time! Not to try to change them into a more acceptable version of themselves, or to try to help them solve their problems, or to try to get them to help us solve our problems, but just to listen and to accept. If they forget our birthday, it may hurt our feelings, but if we have an attitude of acceptance, we may discover that they care about us, but just don’t make a big deal about birthdays – for whatever reason. Maybe in their families, birthdays were not special, or maybe they were occasions to avoid for some reason. Every person is “limited” in some way, if you want to think of things that way. And even if we don’t “understand” them, we can accept them. We can make a place for people to be different from us, but still be our friends.

To have a friend, you should know that it will take a certain amount of time. This is a real problem in today’s society. In order to get to know someone, and to develop a friendship, it does take time. Time to sit and talk things over, time to spend doing things together, time to reflect, etc. We have to slow down and not be in such a hurry.

By the way, curiosity, acceptance and time will help all of your relationships, so it is worth it to cultivate these three things.