Personal connection and mutual regard nurture the relationships in which friendships are born. If they are healthy and well-maintained, they may grow into lifelong bonds. The most secure friendships are able to endure emotional pain and conflict, as well as time and distance. They allow you to engage in activities with someone not only to feed your own self-interests, but because those activities are more enjoyable and meaningful when shared with someone important to you.
Honest and Authentic
Friends are genuine to one another. They openly communicate their feelings, concerns, desires and opinions without the use of manipulation or coercion. This creates trust, which is the foundation of the relationship. It helps them feel safe and at ease together. In his article for Psychology Today, Dr. Alex Lickerman points out that you can feel comfortable knowing your friend will never put you in a position to compromise your beliefs or principles. You can also trust that your friend will address potential threats to your well-being that you may not initially notice, such as an unhealthy romantic relationship.
Intimate and Affectionate
Friends share a mutual affection that goes beyond the regard present among acquaintances. The intimacy of a friendship can present itself in the enjoyment of common interests, experiences and values, as well as the reminiscence of a shared history, Lickerman writes. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy also points out that sincere friendship means caring for a friend for your friend's sake -- not merely maintaining a relationship for your own benefit.
Compassionate and Empathetic
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy also points out that true friends care about one another. If one friend has accomplished a goal, the other will celebrate with her. If someone has experienced a tragic loss, his friend may feel saddened to see someone he cares about in such pain, and will likely worry about her and grieve with her. The act of empathy encourages friends to imagine how their comrades might be feeling, which enables them to share in joy, trauma, excitement, anticipation and fear.
Respectful Sharing of Power
True friends are comfortable with a relatively equal distribution of power. They may do favors or make concessions for one another. In situations where there is a difference of opinion, you or your friend may not need to argue until one is proven correct and the other concedes. Instead, you can comfortably agree to respect your friend's opinions and choices, even if you do not agree with them. Neither you nor your friends are perfect, writes Dr. T. Byram Karasu, professor of psychiatry, in a Psychology Today article. Should you come across a heated disagreement, power imbalance or an insult to your integrity, Karasu encourages forgiveness. This gives everyone permission to be imperfect without the risk of losing dear friends.
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