Amigos

Friends are the best. This week this truth has become truer than ever for me because I’ve heard from and spent precious time here in San Miguel with a number of dear friends, new and old, who enrich my life. In this month-long season of family-centric celebrations and traditions, stretching from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I’ve been reminded of how treasured my family-of-friends is to me.

Historically, I’ve learned, philosophers and social researchers have placed friendship on the back seat of their studies, putting romantic love and marriage up front. But lately, it seems, things are changing. The value of true friendship is being recognized for what it is: Invaluable.

According to Lydia Denworth, author of the new book, Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond, having good, strong friendships is as important as diet and exercise, so it’s something one needs to prioritize.

“If you are forever canceling on your friends or failing to make a point of seeing them or talking to them or interacting with them,” Denworth says, “then you are not being a good friend and you are not maintaining a strong relationship…. Friendship does take some time, but that’s kind of good news because (mostly) hanging out with your friends is fun” (1).

(stock photo)

The friendship metaphor that has worked best for me over the years is gardening. Friendships take some tending, as gardens do: watering, weeding, sometimes some mulching; always a healthy amount of sunshine and good earth.

I am blessed, I feel, with many friendships — decades long as well as months-new. Many of these friends are among you, my WOW readers. This is one sure way, I’ve found, I can reach out over the miles and oceans and stay in touch — keep the garden watered.

Another expert on the subject of friendship, Robert Puff, PhD, writing in Psychology Today, says, “Having solid friendships is important for two main reasons: First, they make life more enjoyable. We get to share the beautiful aspects of life with people whom we love, which can enrich our everyday experiences. Second, our friends help us through the difficult times. Having friends to support us through hard times can make unimaginably difficult situations seem more tolerable” (2).

I often think, Where would I be without my friends? Probably no longer alive, I’m sure. When I was going through the worst experience of my life – when my daughter was missing for twelve years and the pain of this made death seem like an appealing alternative — dear friends talked me down from the ledge, so to speak. Their words of love and care redirected me. Our friendships endure, and I am eternally grateful to them.

Psychologist Marisa Franco, writing in her new book, Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make – and Keep – Friends, argues that friends often fulfill us even more than other relationships can.

“Don’t wait for a calamity to rock you into realizing friendship is priceless,” Franco writes. “Engrave friendship on your list. Make being a good friend a part of who you are, because a deep and true core that needs to belong lies within us all” (3).

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The best, most comprehensive article I found on this fascinating and important subject was “Making Good Friends,” by Lawrence Robinson, Anne Artley, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., published by HelpGuide.org (4). Here are some of their final tips:

  • Be the friend that you would like to have. Treat your friend just as you want them to treat you. Be reliable, thoughtful, trustworthy, and willing to share yourself and your time.
  • Be a good listener. Be prepared to listen to and support friends just as you want them to listen to and support you.
  • Give your friend space. Don’t be too clingy or needy. Everyone needs space to be alone or spend time with other people as well.
  • Don’t set too many rules and expectations. Instead, allow your friendship to evolve naturally. You’re both unique individuals, so your friendship probably won’t develop exactly as you expect.
  • Be forgiving. No one is perfect and every friend will make mistakes. No friendship develops smoothly, so when there’s a bump in the road, try to find a way to overcome the problem and move on. It will often deepen the bond between you.

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References (and deeper reading on the subject):

(1) “Why Your Friends Are More Important Than You Think”:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_your_friends_are_more_important_than_you_think/

(2) “The Importance of Friendship”:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/meditation-modern-life/202107/the-importance-friendship/

(3) “How to Make the Lasting Friendships You Want”:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_make_the_lasting_friendships_you_want/

(4) “Making Good Friends”:

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships-communication/making-good-friends.htm/

12 thoughts on “Amigos”

  1. Hi Bonnie-

    This post spurred me to comment. Last night I left a dear friends birthday party early (held at Midtown Lodge), hoping I had conveyed to all in attendance how I valued friendship. As I age, various ailments change my behavior. In this case the birthday child (8 years younger than I), enjoys pop music and dancing more than I. But the reason I left early was that my hearing has degenerated to the point it was neigh impossible to carry on a conversation, and for me, in my condition, staying seem pointless, and I hoped I was there long enough to show my respect and appreciation of the friends in attendance,

    Further motivation to comment was my intention to forward the previous post ( How to Be Old) to my ex (believing she would find both the writing style and content delightful), as well as three other lady friends in attendance last night).

    As I searched for that post, I discovered the friendship post, so here I am feeling it would be disrespectful to you to share your posts without informing you beforehand that I was doing so.

    Sooo…. Bonnie ( not even sure you remember me) I will now share your posts. Be well, and at peace and joy.

    1. Thank you for writing, dear Erich. Of course I remember you, and of course you can share my posts! I love it when WOW readers do. What did your ex and other lady friends think of the How to Be Old post?… I wish you the same: wellness, peace, and joy. — Best, Bonnie

  2. Dear Bon.

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder of the value of friendship because now is perfect time to reflect upon it. The season from Thanksgiving to New Years brings great joy to many but certainly not all. Those fortunate enough to embrace the holiday season with peace and contentment must be a friend and reach out to those who cannot. Even if you do something to improve the life of someone you will never know, the benefit to you is the same as if you had helped a friend. This country needs to start believing in good will towards all again.

    Love,
    Paul

    1. Dearest Paul — I can always count on you to “get” what I’ve written between the lines: The holidays at this time of year can be difficult for those of us who didn’t come from and don’t have Norman Rockwell blood-families. So our loving, understanding friends become our family-of-choice. Where would we be without them? Mucho love to you, my heart-brother, siempre. — BB xx

  3. And this only begins to touch on what it means to have a BFF! Mucho love, Dear Bonnie, and thanks for the friendship. xoxo ~ Be

  4. When I was in the Girl Scouts there was a song ‘Make New Friends’. The words: ‘Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.’ It’s a good truth.

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