We all know that friendship is one of the biggest blessings on earth. Countless philosophers right from Cicero to Aristotle to Ralph Waldo Emerson have elucidated so much on this subject. Yet we do not need to read all of them to know that fulfilling friendships are indeed great for one's mental and physical well-being, as a number of scientific studies have proven.
How do we choose our friends? Why do we become such good friends with some people? And finally how do friendships break?
The answers to the first two questions might be obvious upon a little reflection but the answer to the third question may not be so obvious. The reasons may be myriad and it might be complex. Friendships, like all relationships, need work to go into them, for them to flourish, grow and be enriching. Sometimes this work may come from just one person and that person might get tired of doing all the work. Sometimes the circumstances may change, the situations may change. Sometimes the people themselves might change.
If the friendship is a 'friendship of convenience' (for example I might be friends with a mother whose child goes to the same school as my child's. We might car-pool, share notes etc. But if my child changes school, the friendship may die) it may not last long. If the friendship is a 'friendship of shared interests' (for example you might be friends with people who are at your once a week pottery class or you might be 'gym friends') then too it may last only as long as the interest lasts. Same is the case for 'office friends'. You might be friends for years yet when you change your job, your friendship changes too.
Then there are the 'childhood friends'. These days it is so easy (thanks to Facebook, Myspace, orkut and a multiple such sites) to connect with people from your past even if you do not want to. You might have been friends as children, but you may no longer be the same person that you were in school or college. You might have changed in a countless ways. As adults, when you try to recapture the same magic that you shared in college, more often than not, the friendship falls flat.
The best kind of friendship is that which is for a lifetime. The true test of any friendship is, of course time.
When two people are close, there are bound to be disagreements and there are bound to be fights. I would go a step further and say that if you have never had a fight with someone, then you obviously aren't close enough. It is only when we are truly comfortable with someone and we feel totally at ease and secure in a relationship, that we can 'fight'. Fights are needed for any relationship, including friendships, to grow. In fact how you sort out your fights can define the relationship and make it stronger and make your bond more solid.
But the catch here is that fights are scary things. Nobody likes conflicts.Each person has a different way of dealing with fights. Some people are terrified of conflicts and would bottle up hurt feelings and carry on like nothing has happened in the guise of 'forgiving'. Some people would shrink into a shell when confronted. Some people will just not 'hit back'. Depending on how the 'fight' is handled it can truly be the end of a relationship or it can cement the bond, fortify it further and make it truly unbreakable.
The thing here is some people can take fights and some people just cannot. After a fight, some people can just put it behind them and completely forgive and carry on (and I am one of such people) and the friendship is even better than before.
But some people can carry the grudge for years and never truly forgive.On the outside they might be polite and civil but deep down, things have changed and the friendship can never go back to where it was. This is a sad thing but if one of the parties is not willing to 'make up', there is no point for the other party to keep trying. In this case after trying a reasonable number of times to 'make up' it is best to cut your losses and move on. It is going to be very painful, especially if you considered that person a close friend, but sometimes that is the only way. Sadly I have lost a few friends like this.
I am fortunate that I now have friends with whom I can truly fight with! Sometimes, after the kind of nasty stuff I have said to them in a fit of extreme emotion, I think that either they must be mad to come back to me or they must love me very much. :-) (These are my closest friends, the ones whom I stay with and the ones whom I always meet, when I go to India). One of my closest friends said to me "If you dare not talk to me or try to ignore me, I will come there and gouge out your eyes." Another tells me "Fool--you act smart and I will kick your backside so hard you will be counting stars in your sleep--just wait and see." I smile in delight when I hear statements like these from my closest friends. ( Of course, If I hear it from someone I do not consider close, it would just be plain irksome) Statements like these, reaffirm our solid bonds and assure me that they are going to be there for life.
Th older one grows, the more one values good friends. If you have friends who you can truly fight with, hold on to that friendship with an iron grip. Do not let it die. Nourish it, cherish it, make it grow.
If you want to test your "Friendship Quotient" take the Friendship Intelligence test designed by Mark Vernon who is an author and journalist. These are a set of 20 questions which I found very interesting and a lot of fun to do. (I scored a 78 out of a possible 100 which probably explains why my friends love me :-) ) .
If you aren't too shy or ashamed of your scores (*cheeky smile*) you can share it with me. :-)
Either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts about fighting in a friendship.