I’ve had this issue my entire life. I don’t know what this word means. I don’t have a clear understanding of the concept that is accomplished by a Friend. People explain it to me. I hear the relative stories. I understand the examples. However, the execution of the process and the emotions involved don’t entirely make sense to me.

A friend is a way to describe a relationship with any noun that resides in the area not covered by the term family but much closer than the term associate. It this gray zone between the two that is somewhat interesting and has its own levels of investment. You could a friend, but not invested in. You could a friend that is on par with a brother. You could be a friend that’s a stuffed animal but is cherished more closely than any other person or thing in the world. You could also be that friend that is only contacted when emotions are high, there is a lot of tension between the person contacting you and someone else, and they need to tell someone that isn’t their family. That is a huge zone of friendship.

At least as an associate, it’s easy to know where you stand and how much to invest. You don’t expect to hear from another associate unless there is some unanticipated reason for engaging in social activity. There are no predetermined expectations of calls or engagement. It’s entirely acceptable to wave at an associate if you see them in their front yard a couple of houses down, but you don’ t have to run over and share your day.

So how is a friend different? Why is it that most days I’m not even remotely concerned about having a friend. Then there are moments in a random day where I long for a quality well-built friendship with someone that almost brotherly that I can call up and say, “Hey, you wanna take a trip to the coast for a couple of days, dutch treat” and know that I”ll get an emphatic “YES! Let’s do this!” Then knowing that when on this trip with this pretend friend that doesn’t exist it will be unending fun and excitement even if it means sitting on the beach and staring at the sun.

Reality hits though, and I can’t do this. Someone else can’t say the same about me. If I reflect on the way I’ve handled potential friends it’s almost disturbing. There have been times in my life where I thought I had a friend. Only to find out the other person didn’t have the same level of investment. There are times where others invest and I have some weird feeling I don’t understand so I stop investing out of fear or distaste. There are other times where I had mistaken the investment to mean more than friends, and completely destroyed those wonderful experiences.

But I came back to the question, what is a friend? How do you know you are that friend that listens in a hard time, a friend that goes on the fun trips, or the friend that just hangs out? Maybe there is some chemistry required in friendship that I’m not capable of, don’t feel, or don’t understand. Maybe interests change too much and prevent me from building healthy relationships based on hobbies. I am not quite sure. The only thing I am very sure of is that I don’t know the required parameters to be friends.

Maybe the basis of friendship, relationships, is something I really don’t understand and it bleeds into friendships since it’s the foundation. Maybe my ability to maintain and understand a relationship is that negatively impacts my ability to create and maintain friendship. I think that makes more sense then friendship itself.

Why is my ability to build relationships broken? What is fundamentally wrong with the way I process thing in accordance with the relationship that disallows me from holding one that is both healthy, loving, strong, and unbreakable? That is a question for another day.

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