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9 Moments in Friendship that Highlight Its Vital Importance

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9 Moments in Friendship that Highlight Its Vital Importance

I tend to think of friendship as its own unique form of love and friends as family. I don’t mean to start this article with a walloping dollop of cringe-worthy sap right from the get-go. All I want to do is emphasize just how important friendship and friends (human and non-human) are to us as human beings. They are the lifeblood of happiness, health, safety, security, community, family, and a liberated sense of well being.

As you go about that all important life-task of building your community of friends and loved ones, here are 9 moments in friendship that highlight it’s vital importance and the winding path to true friendship (grounded in reality of course, not the beautiful, well-moisturized, social scenes of the umpteen sitcoms apparently featuring friendships in their narratives.)

1. The spark of bonding

This is that moment when you know, you just know, that there is a connection. It’s really awesome. If it were an intimate partnership or a dating scenario, you would call it a crush, or chemistry, or maybe even falling in love. Who cares what you call it? It’s that spark of bonding (see, now you’ve got me labeling it), and it can only happen at the level of the soul. It is that instantaneous moment that, whether realized or not, there is a bond between the two of you and the likely potential for a beautiful friendship.

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2. Building the relationship

This is the slightly longer-term phase of building the friendship that can provide a steady, solid supply  of happiness. The relationship begins with activities together, lots of conversation, good amounts of fun, and more. But do remember that real loving friendship prioritizes healing, care, and nurturing just as much as laughter and joy. It’s important to find that balance to ensure that the relationship is built across multiple emotional planes – joy, sadness, care, solidarity, pain and so on – and not just the ones that are easy social highs (but by all means, have those too.)

3. Figuring out imbalances

All relationships have imbalances. They are imbalances based on differences of gender, race, national identity, ethnicity, colonial norms, economic status, access to education, and a myriad other social structures. We can choose to ignore them like dysfunctional sociopaths or deal with them like healthy people who care for each other. A great example is going out to a restaurant and splitting the bill, if one friend is better off financially they will not make their friend shell out for a place they can’t afford. Instead, they will visit a place that is good for everyone’s price range.

4. Dealing with friction

In a healthy way. Not by sweeping it under the carpet or, worse, backbiting and pretending to like each other while in each other’s presence. Friction needs to be seriously addressed it by affirming the care you have for each other, while being honest about differences and how much each can give to navigate those differences in a healthy, loving way. It’s not all hunky-dory mind you (indeed, I think the term “hunky-dory” itself should never be used by a human being ever again.)

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5. Hurting one another

Real hurt can develop and be inflicted within friendships remarkably easily in our alienated, commercialized society. Even relatively healthy, safe friendships are not immune to this. It is worth remembering — the hurt has to be minimal at times or very quickly smothered with affection, tears, and caring laughter in truly nurturing friendships. But sometimes, the hurt lingers, even getting reproduced ever so frequently. Then there are some problems. And that means that either the friendship has to be over and done with (yes, sometimes the healthiest thing one can do is end a friendship.) Sometimes though it might just be worth fighting for it

6. Struggling together

This is the trial by fire. The rite of passage. The struggle for friendship together is probably the richest, most deep-rooted phase of the relationship. In truly healthy friendships, this means one and only one thing in my mind. We need to commit to the well being, happiness, and liberation of our friend and ourselves in equal proportion. If there isn’t a more or less 50:50 meeting point in the mutual support and care, efforts must be sought to arrive there.

7. Fighting for each other

When we fight for each other’s happiness, freedom, independence, well being, health, families, lives even, it establishes a mighty strong foundation for friendship. It doesn’t have to be a big deal either. Just the little things even. Whatever is possible within the limitations of your respective lives. But fight for each other. If you don’t know how. Talk to each other about the different life problems you’re going through with honesty and care. Try and figure out how you can help mitigate each other’s problems. If one friend is really in the doldrums, it’s the responsibility of the other to help as much as possible, not out of charity of altruism, but out of solidarity.

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8. Laying a permanent foundation

You both know that you’re friends for life. Soul mates even. Once you lay that permanent foundation, it’s a great place to be in. Lots of fun, tears, shared joy, care for each other, even the occasional fight (or not, conflict is sometimes over-rated in a patriarchal world – why fight and argue when you can affirm each other’s humanity while agreeing to disagree if needed?). Then you move on, almost spiritually, dare I say it, to a space in your friendship where you are committed to and nurturing…

9. Love and liberation

I am of the firm belief that when humanity is truly liberated from all the forms of oppression we see around us, we will know the truest love and the most awe-inspiring happiness. In particular this means committing to the liberation of our loved ones from all-encompassing forms of oppression that vast majorities of the global population experience. Thus, a commitment to destroying oppression is ultimately the truest commitment one can make to love and happiness, in our lives and the world around us.

And of course, with our friends.

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Featured photo credit: Happy Friendship Day by Premnath Thirumalaisamy via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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