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Friendships are like a love story. Different from romantic or filial love, it’s its own unique love story. Making friends is the first free choice relationship we have as kids. Deciding who will be in our own personal inner circle. Who we will share our thoughts and feelings with. They are the people who would provide us with stability, community and continuity. They are kindred spirits who stand as pillars of support, companions through life’s journey, offering genuine acceptance, unwavering encouragement. We develop a personality, an identity, a reputation. We make friends. We change friends. In the best circumstances, we feel that we belong to a community. Your small town, your swimming team, your own chosen family

But of course that is the best-case scenario. Often times so many people have admitted that the friendships they have feel superficial, they will accept that they find it difficult to rely on their friends – they have fun with them, but that’s about it. A question which comes into my mind is why does this happen, why do people settle for these microdose experiences and why do we not look for something more meaningful? 

I have noticed each group comes with an often unspoken social code about what is acceptable: what kind of jokes you can make, what sort of touch or play is okay, and which dreams you can share. Now when we just want to be accepted by others we play into this code and match our values and wants with them. Now, imagine for a moment that you are a circle and this person/group/community you want acceptance from is a square – I see people either try to make a square out of a circle or change a square into a circle. I think what we don’t want to see in this situation is that the parts of us that don’t fit get relegated to a dark corner inside of us, when we are with such groups. Most of us don’t learn for years what’s in that corner. We have a sense of it. But we don’t dare investigate.

But perhaps you also know this experience: the day you made a choice to look in the dark corner. Maybe, you have found the parts that were aching to meet you, be loved by you, and be seen and embraced by others. Accepting you are a circle and they are a square and respecting the boundary will save you time and energy and might even open the doors to other opportunities for you to find other circles or even squares that have curved edges that will come into your lives.

Recently I booked tickets for me and my girlfriend to go to India and as I was telling my friends about it I could see a platonic foreplay forming up. “I’ll get us tickets to the theater,” said one. “You have to go and check out this restaurant, I’ll make the reservations,” said another. I felt that familiar anticipatory joy take hold of me. In my bedroom in The Netherlands, the words of my friends transported me to India. I believe that is a love story worth experiencing, a gift given by your chosen family. 

Questions to ponder:

  • Who matters in your life today, and how has it changed? Who is there for you? And for whom are you there?
  •  What three words describe your expectations of close friendship?
  • If you felt you could ask for more from a friend, what would you ask for? What holds you back from asking?

 

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