It is true… Friends are the family we get to choose. Think about the worst time of your life. Now recall that one person who stood by you in this hour of crisis. It could either be a parent, sibling or close friend. There are more chances of it being the latter. Your friend was there for you… comforting, reassuring and supportive. That’s what friends are about: providing constant support, our comforting confidant and our worst critic. They are the family we choose!

Friends are the people we love to spend time with. They give us company when we are lonely, support us unconditionally and accept us despite our shortcomings. They make revelries fun, and they help us be ourselves.

Not just that, friends also help us grow at a spiritual level. Each soul is on a journey. Friends are guides who come into our lives, play their roles and move on. Don’t we all have friends who we were very close to at one point, but with whom we are no longer in touch with now? They drifted away from our life when their role as guide was over. What friends do for us cannot be described in words. Then there are those whose friendships last a lifetime… The ones that never fade but are omnipresent! Those are to be treasured.

A few things that I’ve learnt through friendships over the years: The first is to start a relationship with the right expectations. Don’t expect too much. If you start with high hopes, the relationship is likely to flounder. For anyone to fulfil your expectations, they need to understand what is expected of them. This understanding takes time. Besides, expectations are always two-sided, so having low expectations ensures the same from others. One of the drawbacks of starting a friendship with high expectations is that at every step, you start judging the person and his actions. There is a constant dialogue going on in your mind where you are trying to judge if the person is fitting into your definition of a friend.

Secondly, if you are too judgemental, you might focus only on the negatives and miss out on some of the finer qualities your friends might possess. People don’t necessarily have to fit into your image of a good person. There are many other ways in which people can be good. Also, if every person in your life fits into your definition of good, chances are that all the people in your life will be alike. If you are eclectic in your views, life will shower on you an abundance of friends.

Another important aspect of friendship is truly understanding that we all grow and change. Since we continue to grow, we continue to evolve. Hence, it is important that you don’t judge people by their past actions. Always give them another chance. See them with neutrality. That way you can start a relationship from an absolutely new perspective, like painting on a clean canvas. What you paint is then up to you.

Another golden rule is to have no pre-conceived notion about either the person or the relationship. What the relationship should involve should be determined by the experiences the two people share, and not by a fixed definition that is prevalent. The relationship could be an intense one, or it could be just a casual friendship where both people have the same idea of fun. If you don’t start with a fixed notion, the freedom in the relationship helps you grow and explore.

In any relationship, and especially in friendship, it is important to communicate clearly what you are feeling. Honest communication leads to the right expectations. Always speak frankly about the way you feel. This ensures that your friend understands you for who you are and not the image that she might have created in her mind. It also ensures that there is complete acceptance and trust in the relationship.

The more acceptance there is, the easier it is to trust. Eventually trust is the basis for any strong relationship. But to develop trust you need to communicate clearly and be non-judgemental. Make sure you do your best to nurture the friendship.

Friendships do transcend age and can also be felt in familial relationships. The best friendships exist between humans and their pet animals in my belief! It is implied, then, that this exists at another level altogether. Friendship is freedom plus equality. It involves choice and volition. Often they say: a man is known by the company he keeps…those words hold a lot of weight.

~ Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity - Khalil Gibran ~