It’s good to have friends. As the old saying goes, “It never hurts to have too many friends.” Whether you’re single, dating someone or married.. gotta have friends.
I was visiting a dear, older couple today and they’d told me one of their sons had a really tough time dealing with the loss of his wife. He came home to a ‘Dear John’ letter and was devastated. His family came in to be a great support to him and it was at this time that he realized.. he had no real friends beyond the one he had with his now estranged wife. Now that the chips were down and the world was crumbling around him he had no one he could call to get him through. As I said, his family was there for him and I’m happy to hear he has begun the effort of building new friendships.
Later on I thought about the friendships in my own life. I have female friends and male friends. I have friends who are very adept at understanding the spiritual side of me, while I have others with whom I can share my emotions easily, but are not theologically well-versed. I have other friends who will “tell it like it is” when I really need an objective opinion on things as well. I have friends whose greatest ability is to simply provide comfort to whatever state I happen to be in at the time. I am also fortunate to have married friends as well as single friends.
But yet, there have been times when there was not a friend to be found. Either it was too late in the evening and I would have really put them out to call on them or they just simply weren’t home at that particular moment. There have been moments when all I needed was someone to put their arm around me and tell me it was gonna get better in a while.. but even that could not be found at times. Yet these quiet moments only made it all the more clear to me how much any of us are needed as faithful friends. We may not possess great financial wealth or even wisdom, but our friendship to others is a greater asset than we often give ourselves credit for.
There is a situation among singles that can rob us of potential friendships. It is the well known scenario of hearing those words… “Let’s just be friends.” from what had been hoped to be the beginning of a potential romance. I myself have met certain women, gotten to know them on a very personal level and found myself very enamored with them. I desired very much to have a long-term relationship with them as “more than friends”. And as can be guessed, several times I have heard the reply, “I really just want you as a friend.” A crushing blow to one’s hopes at first. But this is where we must be careful. It is how we respond to this situation that can make the difference between a new friendship or an estranged aquaintance. We can’t look at the phrase, “..just a friend” with any sense of loathing at all or we sacrifice a rare opportunity to maintain that friendship. If love is not to be, then that must be accepted. It is very easy to take the attitude, “Hmmph! If it cannot be love then it shall be nothing at all!” But this is a grave mistake.
I don’t know if it’s the Spring season or what, but in the past three weeks I have encountered at least three single women who have called on me in some distraught state or another. I feel very close to each of them as friends and strong feelings for one in particular. They have been a support for me at other times when I was in need and I’m very thankful for that. In the instances mentioned all that they really needed was someone trustworthy with whom they could express their sorrow or confusion. But none of this would have been possible had I responded with the “all or nothing” attitude and not seen the value of simply having good friends.
Solomon once wrote, “Better is a friend who is nearby than a relative living far away.” The man I mentioned at the beginning of this article had his brother and mother who were willing to fly in from some distance to be there for him in his time of need. But how much more valuable it is when we have people nearby in our lives who are more than a passing aquaintance! Someone we can get beyond the usual, “How’s things? / Fine.” dialogue and actually share with them the way we feel. Someone to share our ecstasy over some new development in our lives as well as the moments we feel distraught or discouraged. We do not open up our weaknesses to aquaintances for a very good reason.. it is neither safe nor prudent. We open up to friends because somehow the issue of trust in each other’s good fortune has been determined as a mutual concern.
All this to say that good friends are hard to come by and even harder to do without. The next time a possible romantic interest says in all honesty to you, “I really just want to be friends.”, take a moment to place yourself in check and really respect what that person is telling you. Consider even now the list of people you feel you could really sit down with and share your thoughts, fears and hopes with. Do a little something to brighten their day. Take them to lunch, send a flower, a card or even just a phone call to see how they’re doing and if there’s anything you could do to ease what might be troubling them. Do it not for what you may recieve in return.. but rather that you may be a good friend.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.