Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Friendship has its challenges

By H.C. Wang

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The Beatles once said in a song: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Aristotle said, “Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.” explaining how friends are all one needs in life. Bros before hos. Similar sentiments have been expressed throughout the ages.  

I tend to agree with the school of thought that explains if someone is fortunate enough to find and keep one true friend in a lifetime, then they are truly blessed. Friendship is a word that seems to be thrown around these days without the true meaning being strongly understood. To be a good friend and to have a good friend makes life more fun, interesting and easier to handle. My personal criteria have been criticized in the past for being too stringent – am I expecting too much when I demand quality in the people that surround me? There is plenty to idealize about the golden goodness of friendship – soul mates, brain twins, someone who is capable of listening to all thoughts and opinions about life and understand what is meant, someone who never judged or deserts even in times of hardship and disagreement. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Well, everyone is human, but is it wrong to demand a little compassion and dependability?

The number one thing, as always between any two people hoping to engage in a successful interaction of any kind, is communication. Which can be easier said than done when it comes to certain individuals, but remember that we each have our quirks and weaknesses. Focus on strengths instead. Nobody likes to be in a conversation where the other person is constantly doing all the talking. Be a good listener. If just sitting back and listening seems to be difficult, stop and think about why that is.

Consider this: It’s like learning to play with others in the kindergarten sandbox. The other kids deserve a turn, too. Is what one person wants to truly any more important than what the other person wants to say?  If there is some kind of perilous time restraint on the topic, then of course by all means say it. Otherwise, keep a mental check to switch off between speakers for starters if necessary in order to achieve equal gabbing time.

On the other hand, avoid tallying in most other instances. Just like keeping score on how many orgasms each person gives and receives would quickly tear apart the relationship, keeping score for every little thing from who spends more on Christmas gifts to who called who last is a surefire way to lead to one or both parties feeling used and shortchanged. Cut each other a little slack. True friends are those who stick by through the bad times and  the good. Life is hard by nature and not everything is always sunshine and kittens. However, as someone who has time and again felt disappointed by people, I must recommend caution against too much slack as well. If the feeling is that one person’s needs are consistently taking precedent over another’s, something about the relationship needs reevaluation. Look back and think introspectively. Has there ever been a single serious heart-to-heart conversation through the course of the friendship or is that person just fun to hang out with on occasion? Grow that backbone. Don’t let other people, even someone who is supposedly a friend wear the boots all the time.

If that isn’t enough to convince, here’s something else: Maintaining strong friendships can even lead to a longer, healthier life span. Attitude and the ability to deal with stress and problems seem greatly increased with each close friend that one has. Friends provide a kind of health benefit that even intimate partners and family members don’t provide. Researchers haven’t quite worked out all the details yet, but it has been suggested in various health and psychology publications over the years that being surrounded by good friends can actually boost one’s immune system. Now that is something truly worth treasuring.

H.C. Wang is a Collegian columnist. To get your question answered, e-mail [email protected]

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