Most people have friends or have had at least one friend at some point in their life. Some people have a lot of friends while some people have hardly a single friend. Does friendship require special friendship skills? Can these skills be learnt or is it a matter of personality you are born with? Do outgoing and social types have more friends while introvert and withdrawn people have few or no friends? Is having a friend a cosmic accident otherwise known as destiny? These are questions each one of us ponders occasionally.
The Rules of Friendship That Should Never Be Broken
Friendships come in myriads of forms, sometimes even in bizarre circumstances and often among unlikely people. Some friendships are for a short while, while some last entire lifetimes, through thick and thin.
Are there any rules of friendship? Are these rules such that, when we break these rules, the friendship can be in crisis and even end? If you go over the friendships in your life, look and ask around and observe other people, you would notice that all friendships have certain fundamental rules. Michael Argyle and Monika Henderson of the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University (1984) have discovered six rules of friendships in their research.
- Trust and confide in the other person
- Show emotional support
- Share news of success
- Strive to make the friend happy
- Volunteer help in time of need
- Stand up for a friend in his or her absence
Trust And Confide In Your Friend
Trust is wonderful as it opens a conduit in our heart. When our hearts are open, we experience life more fully. Keeping the trust earned is vital as once trust is broken, it is difficult to gain it back. Some people are ready to overlook human foibles while others never forgive.
It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. ~ William Blake
Show Emotional Support
Most friendships begin with a shared feeling or a situation you shared where you recognized that another human being was somehow close. In friendship, you need to affirm this emotional closeness and show emotional support for your friend. Typically, listening to your friend with attention, kind words, gestures or a symbolic deed is a great sign of emotional support.
Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty. ~ Sicilian Proverb
Share News of Success With Your Friend
Life is wonderful and our capacity to enjoy life increases when we share our good fortunes with our friends. Sharing strengthens our faith in the abundance of good in life.
Hold a true friend with both your hands. ~ Nigerian Proverb
Strive to Make the Friend Happy
Everyone values the person who tries to make him/her happy.
Volunteer Help In Time Of Need
A friend in need is a friend indeed. This means that you are thinking of your friend’s troubles and can offer help. Even if your friend will not accept your offer, the offer itself is greatly appreciated. Many people say all kinds of nice things, but when someone actually backs up the words with concrete action, it is a real blessing. The rule of balance applies here. If we start demanding too much from our friend or if the needs are one-sided, the friendship will not last, as the friend will soon feel abused.
The language of friendship is not words but meanings. ~ Henry David Thoreau
Stand Up For A Friend In His Or Her Absence
This tests the integrity of the friendship. You take a risk and commit yourself when you defend your friend in his/her absence if someone speaks ill of or slanders your friend. This will bring you closer and your friend will appreciate it.
The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend. ~ Aristotle
In addition to the six criteria by Michael Argyle and Monika Henderson, I’d add a couple more.
Don’t Judge Your Friend
Having negative and critical thoughts about your friend undermines the friendship. Your friend is not perfect. Neither are you. So entertaining negative thoughts just poisons your own inside. Accept your friend as s/he is and life becomes more enjoyable.
Probably no man ever had a friend that he did not dislike a little. ~ E.W. Howe
Respect Your Friend
Don’t be too demanding of your friend’s attention or get too involved in other life areas. Being too demanding will only mess things up. We all have many different kinds of needs and acquire various kinds of relationships to satisfy these needs.
One's friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human. ~ George Santayana
Money Matters May Ruin Friendships
Your friend is not the bank. If you need to borrow money, go the bank or seek rich relatives.
Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need most. ~ American Proverb