THE WAY FRIENDSHIPS WORK

Avatar_DavidBentleyHow did you meet your best friend? Were you in school together or work for the same company? Perhaps you were neighbors or met in some organization. Were you introduced by a mutual friend or relative? When I think about my best friends from childhood to the present, most of them began with a chance meeting. Perhaps there was a bit of destiny involved, but I don't think any of us specifically sought each other out. Our friendships evolved over time.

In every case, however, there was some commonality that attracted us into friendship. In the beginning, my best friends were neighborhood children with whom I loved to play. In school, I engendered close bonds with classmates who shared common interests, skills or backgrounds. As an adult, I've met good friends in connection with work, social organizations, and hobbies.

I still create lasting friendships in these ways, but now I also "meet" friends through social networking, virtual meetings, conference calls, and blog surfing. I often share things with these friends that I would be far less apt to tell someone face to face, and they do the same with me. Some of these virtual friendships have lasted more than a decade without meeting in person. We chat online. We talk on the telephone. We send each other greeting cards and gifts. Yet we have never, ever, met in real time.

So I find myself questioning whether these are real friends. Would I place my life or my life savings in the hands of all these people? Probably not; but, then, I wouldn't trust some of my face to face friends that much either. However, an old proverb states: "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck."

Many of my needs can be met just as well virtually as in real time. Others cannot. Once I decide what I need from a given friendship, then I can assess whether that need is being met. And that, I believe, is the way all friendships work.

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About David Bentley

Avatar_DavidBentleyDavid Bentley, M.Ed., is an avid observer of people, places and events. He uses his storytelling and questioning skills to help himself and others think outside the box in an ever-changing world.

Comments about his column can be sent to davidbentley@sanjuanislander.com

© 2014 David Bentley