5 Reasons Friends Stay Friends
I've often wondered why some of my friends from highschool have managed to remain a vital part of my life and others, I have simply forgotten. Is it because of geographic distance? That can't be it - I lived hours from my best friend for four years. Is it because I have common interests with the friends who stuck around? Yes... but also no - our interests have changed many times throughout the years. Perhaps, the friends who have stuck around are the ones who I talk to most often. Except that I speak to my best friends maybe once a week while I see others who are merely acquaintances nearly every day.
Why is it, then, that some friends stay friends? I believe the answer lies in a cocktail of social ties.
1. Shared Experiences
Haven't you ever come home from a trip with a friend or even an acquaintance and felt as though, out of everyone in the world, y'all knew each other the best? Whether it be a shared distance from what is familiar, shared struggles or shared memories, experiences tend to act as a worm hole, warping you from a state of social acquaintance to a state of intimate comfortability with each other. I believe this is why squads of soldiers, sports teams, AA groups and Boy Scout troops all share that deeper-than-friends bond. They've lived life together and helped each other through.
2. Shared Values
Values shape the way that we view and react to the world. They dictate our habits, our schedules, our choices, our priorities, our thought processes... they make up our worldview. If two people do not share common values, they won't share the tie of friendship. Perhaps your friendship was built around the value of honesty - you know that no matter what comes, that person will be straight with you. Or maybe it was the value of adventure - when life gets stressful or muddled and you need a chance to breathe, your friend is there by your side to set out on a journey. At the core of a friendship is a common bond over what takes priority in life.
3. Mutual Admiration
I'm not sure if you would ever meet someone who you didn't admire at least some aspect of them and think to yourself, "we're gonna be best buds." At some primal level, we instinctively draw near to people who we admire. It may be admiration in the way they handled the experience you two shared. Or maybe you admire the values that drive their lifestyle. Sadly, this applies in circumstances of negative consequence as well. A sociopath might admire a serial killers method or a crack dealer might admire the ruthlessness of their kingpin. Whether good or bad, we draw close to those who we hold in high regard (at least in some facet).
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the most overused (for good reason) key to healthy relationships. Trust. It's more than stupid exercises at Bible camp like the trust fall. That just takes trusting that no one will drop you for fear of the instructor whoopin' their butts. If you truly trust someone, do the trust fall when no one else is around to keep them in check and add a few bricks on the ground below. Mutual trust within an intimate friendship isn't a spurt-of-the-moment-fall-off-a-chair-hoping-they'll-catch-you exercise. It's a function of time. In a weird way, it's almost educated guess work. Over the course of your relationship, you're put in situations where you demand a little bit more trust here and a little bit more trust there until you begin to build up the trust within your relationship. Shortcuts are few and far between (challenging experiences are one such shortcut).
Need I say any more? You have to tolerate their company at the very least.
Friendship is a unique beast - for each "rule" there's a thousand exceptions. But at the end of the day, it's a choice. You either accept the other as your friend... or you stick 'em in the Burn Book.
Jacob Jolibois is the founder of The Archer's Guild. He has a habit of starting a large number of projects and is oddly enthusiastic about Disney. Ultimately, he's hoping to rid the world of mediocrity, lots of people at a time (one is too slow). Recently, he backpacked across 11 countries with Micah Webber.