To begin with the words of Helen Keller; ‘Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.’ Psychology has attempted to understand why people need friends in life. Whether it is childhood, middle age, or the second childhood of life, among the various relationships that have brought people together, the most crucial one is friendship. Starting from childhood days, friends play a vital role in enhancing our learning experiences and help us become what we are. Thomas Aquinas says, ‘there is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.’
Coming to the teenage years, friendship takes us into deeper relationships, sometimes tagged with romantic bonds as well. These give us a training platform for long term relationships. Friends help us get more friends. Like a snowball, it brings us to more friends with a similarity in thoughts and actions. Only friends allow us to be stupid with them. Friendship gives us a healing therapy at our odd hours and lends a shoulder on the worst days!
I think all of us need friends through thick and thin. We need friends to share our joy when we are happy and we also need their shoulders to bend over in days of adversity. Your friend will support you; join hands with you to realize your crazy ideas, to create wonderful memories and to reflect on them when you are alone. Haven’t you seen your parents be so excited to share with you how they had fun-filled days with their friends? Friends support us emotionally and make us feel different, feel special. I just love to see when senior citizens in their morning and evening walk gather together in the parks, make new friends and meet their old friends and have a wonderful time together! We log in to our Facebook pages ‘n’ number of times in a day to see how many friends like our posts and comment on them; perhaps we also scroll through up and down to see their posts because we are really interested in knowing what is happening in their lives.
Commitments in friendships vary, and are also voluntary. This mutual alliance when turned into genuine friendship makes us flourish in life and develop mutual respect. From a psychological perspective, the development of friendship might be influenced by an individual’s level of approachability, sociability, openness and proximity and similarity factors. A first-and–last-bencher of a class could have been best friends if they knew each other more, share and spoke more often to each other and had been able to develop a mutual liking for each other. It is the only physical distance that did not let this happen. So many broken and lost relationships from school days have thrived again through the platform of Facebook, WhatsApp and similar social media platforms. It is amazing to have 2.27b active Facebook users worldwide and 219.94 m users in India alone across various age, professions, and lifestyles; this throws light on how the social animal called ‘man’ craves for friendship, relationships and a feeling of belongingness. Menander says, ‘A man is happy if he has merely encountered the shadow of a friend’. Probably without friends no one would choose to live even if we have everything else– said Aristotle. True friendship is coloured by the finest elements of positivity, cooperation and trust. When we spend time with a friend, we talk, share our food, spend time going to movies, we come gradually closer to one another. The presence of friends helps prepare us to face a lion or a lay-off graciously. For every friendship to develop and to be maintained, reciprocity is a very vital element; also it is built on the pillars of self-disclosure followed by the glue of intimacy. Tying on the knots of a hefty helping and gradually unconditional positive regard gives us the platform of emotional expressiveness. Only friends know when to offer you a hug, a couch or a glass of wine! The element of responsiveness is what every you and I want; the element of love in friendship is what money cannot buy. Friendship helps us to understand and be understood. Let me conclude with the final remark that we must be grateful to those who make us feel happy, they garden our hearts to let happiness blossom, they are called friends and we can’t be without friends.