“Ye dosti hum nahin todenge
Todenge dam magar
Tera saath na chodenge”
This Kishore Kumar classic from the film ‘Sholay’ had become an instant hit when it released, capturing the essence of a close bond between two friends, Jay and Veeru. Time and again, the cinematic world has been giving us major friendship goals with the stories of Aakash, Sameer and Sid (Dil Chahta Hai), Raju, Farhan and Rancho (3 idiots), Bunny, Avi, Naina and Aditi (Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani), Harry, Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter, or even our beloved series FRIENDS!, just to name a few.These stories often remind us of our own friends, the “anmol ratnas” of our life with whom we have shared countless memories and experiences -be it bunking classes to hang out, adjusting to a new place, sharing our deepest secrets, or dealing with a breakup or loss. So what makes friendships so special and important?
The definition of ‘friendship’ can be very subjective – what friendship means for you may be very different from what it means to someone else. Yet there is some common ground too – A true friend is someone who has your back, is accepting, encouraging and supportive. But they also deliver hard truths when needed, point out your mistakes and give an honest opinion; not to belittle you but because they want what’s best for you.
Friendships often differ in terms of the closeness or bonding we share. It is popularly believed that having more friends makes you social, while having few friends means you are lonely or an introvert. That is not always true. As we grow up, our friendships also evolve and the quality of friendships becomes more important than the number of friends you may have. While some may just be acquaintances or good friends, others might be a part of your “inner circle” – a handful of people who know you inside out and with whom you can be vulnerable, your own true self.
Having such nurturing friendships can improve your confidence and self-worth. They also motivate you in being persistent and reaching your goals. Friends form the crux of our social support system; they bring us comfort and joy, and help cheer you up when you’re feeling down. The encouragement and support of friends also helps you cope better with tough times and greatly reduces stress. In this regard,having a friend who you can always rely on or call anytime, even at 2 am in the morning, is indeed a blessing. Apart from this, friendships also create a sense of belongingness which prevents loneliness and isolation. Ultimately, good friends double your joys and comfort you in sorrow.
When we step away from the reel world and into the real world, we also realize that friendships are not always so easy nor are they perfect or constant – they ebb and flow, like the tides of the sea. There could be temporary tiffs or permanent break-ups, old friendships crumble and new ones are formed, or even new experiences that strengthen your bond than before. Unlike relationships though, friendships can be sustained for weeks, even months, with little contact. It is amazing how easy it is to reconnect after a long time apart and just pick up the conversation from where you left it off – isn’t this true especially for our childhood and school friendships?
Much like other relationships, friendships too require effort and commitment. Here are some tips that will help you to build stronger, lasting friendships:
- Open up about your interests, goals, struggles and values and ask about theirs; sharing about yourself is a good way to cement your friendship
- Celebrate their success and rejoice in the things that make them happy, while also sharing about your achievements
- Show that you value and trust them
- Be a listening ear, without judgment or criticism, or offering any advice (unless they’re looking for some)
- Enable them to confide in you and trust you – refrain from disclosing their secrets or private life to anyone
- Give them their space and time and respect their choices, although you might disagree
- During conflicts, avoid playing the blame game or bringing up the past – focus instead on the issue at hand and try to resolve that amicably. Take some time off for both of you to cool down if required.
In recent years, technology has revolutionized our social life. We can add a friend or make a new connection sitting at home with just a few clicks. Yet, having hundreds of online friends is not the same as having a few close friends you can spend quality time with and have heart-to-heart conversations. Some of the most important and powerful bonds are formed when we interact face-to-face. This is why, it is advisable to make it a point to stay in touch by meeting others in person as well, and not just connect virtually.
The pandemic situation over the past year has redefined our notions of friendship and greatly changed the way we interact with others. But the fact remains that while building and maintaining friendships takes time and effort, having healthy and positive friendships has a huge impact on our health and well-being. As Benjamin Franklin so rightly said, “A true friend is the best possession to have”.