Friends Or Acquaintances?

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

I read a short article on p. 7 of the February, 2015 issue of Natural Awakenings magazine entitled “Satisfaction With Friendship is Hard to Come By” in the section labeled health briefs. No specific author was listed, but Nicole Avellina is the publisher and the study was conducted by Edge Research and Sea Change Strategies. This article resonated with me since I just returned from New Orleans during Mardi Gras weekend with one of my very good friends from college.  Although I’d already been to New Orleans three times in the last few years, I never visited during Mardi Gras. Why not? Very simply, no one would ever go with me. Until now, that is. A shared dream came true after 43 years. 

Let’s take a look at the article: “Less than a quarter of Americans are fully satisfied with their friendships, and almost two-thirds lack confidence in even their closest friends.” This is also interesting, “…those over 70 and between 16-34 are most satisfied with friendships while 35-49 and 50-69 year olds experience a midlife friendship slump.”

How true.  I realize most people are actually “acquaintances” to whom I attribute the term “friend.” There is a lack of compassion, encouragement, involvement, support and sharing. Friendly is not the same as being friends. These expedient relationships are often superficial since they result from working together, living in the same neighborhood or sharing some common interests or friends. Lifelong friends are few and far between and must be cherished. “Qualities most people look for in friends are loyalty, honesty, goodness, and reliability in a crisis.” Think about it. Into which category do the people around you belong?

Forty-three years ago, Elyse and I were graduated from college mid-year in January. We decided to go to Mardi Gras in February, but chose to drive since we couldn’t afford airfare. I know it sounds crazy, but in those days, it was far less expensive to drive. Of course, this was way before Internet and we had no idea what we were doing. We had plenty of enthusiasm and high hopes and proceeded to chart our route from an old-fashioned paper map, as was done in the “olden” days. We were to use Elyse’s car ( I didn’t have one) for the trip, but Elyse had car trouble and the trip was cancelled. A few weeks after, we both got jobs as teachers, eventually married, raised our families and went on with our lives.

Elyse moved to California, where she’s been for about thirty-five years while I remained in New York. Elyse and her husband, Kenny, visited me last April. As we reminisced, it was apparent neither we hadn’t ever made it to Mardi Gras. We booked our trip then and there, neither of us willing to let this opportunity slip by. We went to Mardi Gras February 2015 and had a ball!

Despite living on opposite coasts, we’ve managed to stay in touch through the years. We only spoke on the phone once a twice a year and emailed once in a while. After Elyse moved to California, we didn’t see each other for twenty-three years, then not again for another twelve years. Somehow, it was as if no time passed. We picked up on conversations as if it were yesterday. Absent were the accusations and recriminations of “You never call me.” We were happy when we spoke. Period.

According to the article, “People who attend religious services at least once a week are twice as likely to be completely satisfied with their friendships than those who rarely or never attend services.” I’m wondering if the loyalty that compels a person to visit God in what they perceive to be his home transfers as loyalty in friendship?  Also, the researchers concluded, “Those seeking more fulfillment from their friendships should invest disproportionate time and energy in the relationships they consider close.” This tells us even close friendships need to be nurtured. Interesting.

I always felt that Elyse was my friend, but after reading this article and recently experiencing her presence and interaction again, I know I was not wrong. Elyse is not an acquaintance. She’s truly a friend. Loyalty (check). Honesty (check). Goodness (check). Reliability in a crisis (not yet tested, but reliable in all other instances).

How many of your friends pass the check test?

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