This is another short article I found among a box of old writings and felt it was worth sharing. There was no date associated with the pages so I have no idea when it was written. Current author’s notes are in italics.
You’ll have the opportunity to cultivate many friendships during your life on earth. Some of these friendships last a lifetime, while others will last only for a season. Friends are among the most treasured possessions a person can have. I’ve found two reliable tests of friendship. One is time, the other is difficulty. Neither test is one you can administer or orchestrate. They just happen.
The best way to have good friends is to be a good friend. You can’t win somebody’s friendship by trying to win their friendship, but you will find that certain people respond when you are a friend to them.
How do you become a good friend? I have always held transparency in high esteem. A person who is transparent hides nothing from those with whom he feels comfortable. It’s not that you bare your life to someone without cause. It’s just that when a person shows signs of honorably wanting to get to know you, you let them. The real you, not who you wish you were, or who you want them to think you are. Think about how you want to be accepted and accept your potential friends the same way. When they tell you something that’s a deep, dark, secret, you’re not shocked and you don’t start judging them. If they ask you how you feel about it, tell them simply and honestly without condemning them.
As a friend, you need to be willing to help someone, even when it’s not convenient You need to support them in the things they are trying to accomplish to better themselves. Simply withhold approval on those things you feel are not right.
Friendship takes on many forms and degrees. For example, you may have friends because of a common interest. When I was young and spent a lot of time hunting, fishing, and camping, there was a group of friends with whom I frequently did these things. We trusted each other not to be careless with guns and to help you get unstuck if you drove off into mud that was too deep. We became close by sharing adventures and telling stories around campfires. If we were deep in the woods and somebody forgot something, we shared what we had. There was friendly competition about who would shoot the most dove or quail, or catch the most fish, or who could drive through muddy forest trails without getting stuck.
Then there was the group of guys with whom I started a band. We practiced together many nights, working on songs that were difficult and which we wanted to perform well. We learned to be patient with one another. We learned to anticipate each other’s actions in the music. We traveled together, playing at dances, some hundreds of miles from home. On the late night/early morning drives home we discussed what we had done wrong and what we had done right and how we would do it differently the next time. We shared successes and failures together.
Over time these types of relationships have developed around the show horse business, my involvement in aviation, and in the computer business. One thing that stands out in all of these situations is the amount of trust that true friends develop in each other. You had to. Sometimes, like on a hunting trip or when flying in combat or in bad weather, your life depends on the other fellow doing what he is supposed to do. Even in the other situations, like in the band or in business, it’s not necessarily your life that is on the line, but your success or failure in the endeavor. In these situations where trust is involved, it is not unusual for a deep, lasting friendship is to form that goes far beyond the common interest.
Because we all have limited time and energy, we have to make decisions about the friendships we cultivate. Often, we don’t do this consciously. Many friendships develop without any effort on our part They grow because two people, or a group of people, enjoy being together. Time together is like the glue that seals a friendship, especially in the early stages.
You don’t have to walk on eggshells with a friend. If you find that you are always doing the listening and the other person’s burdens are being “dumped” on you, and there is no reciprocation, it’s probably not friendship. It’s just a person who needs help and they are coming to you for it. If you help them, or if you don’t, when the crisis is over, there will be no lasting relationship. With a friend you share both the good and the bad and it’s a two-way street, each sharing with the other.
I learned back during my single days women sometimes need a man friend with whom they can be themselves. They need a friend they don’t have to put on makeup or do their hair up for, because they’re not trying to impress you or win your love. Sometimes, if you have a friend like this she will share the secrets of her heart with you, but she’s more likely to do that with her girlfriends. If she does share some of her innermost secrets with you, you really need to guard that friendship by not betraying her. Avoid too much affection with girls that are your friends. It can ruin a friendship. She doesn’t want that from you. The fact that she has opened up to you means she thinks she has a friend that can give her a man’s perspective on life, but who isn’t trying to “get in her pants”. You may have trouble with this, especially if you begin to get affectionate. She may want, or even need a hug, or even to be held. It won’t mean the same thing to her as it will to you, so you’ve just got to be careful. Sometimes one of these relationships will turn into a romance. If it does, it will probably be a good one. (My marriage, which at this point has lasted 46 years, began as just a friendship.)
Even though it takes time together to seal the initial stages of a friendship, lasting friendships will survive long periods of time apart. When you do get back together it will be interesting to discover the changes in each of your lives. When you can freely share these changes and find they have no effect on the depth of your friendship, then you know you have a valuable relationship