Friendships by Jill Mountrain
1) People are usually drawn together by one of a few different situations. People who share common interests often form friendships. For example, if two people enjoy watching baseball, and find themselves talking about games they've attended, they will eventually expand their conversations beyond baseball, and form a friendship, rather than just a common interest. Similarly, people who find themselves sharing a common experience, like a classroom, a job, or visiting the same restaurant, multiple times will eventually talk to each other and often go on to form a friendship.
2) To move from acquaintances to friends requires self-disclosure. When people take the next step into true friendship, they also take a risk. In the early stages of a friendship, people will begin to share personal details about their lives. This is a mutual and equal activity so that one person does not know everything about the other while keeping her own private life to herself. In very close friendships the two people will know very private details about one another, and will trust in each other to preserve those details and maintain their privacy by not sharing them with other people.
3) Even if people engage in self-disclosure, unless some other components are in place, these friendships are not likely to endure. People who remain long term friends often share core values. They have the same opinions of what is right or wrong, and approach situations in similar ways. For example, if two people become friends because they find themselves in the same class, that friendship may end if one person sees the other cheating on a test, and feels that behavior is not in line with her own values and ethics.
4) One of the benefits of having a close friend is having someone to rely on. However, if one friend calls on the other for help over and over again, but never helps the other in return, the friendship may end because it is not equal friendship. Friendship requires equality. Similarly, friends should be equally committed to the happiness of each other. That doesn't mean that friends have to constantly work to make each other happy. It means that true friends don't do things they know will cause unhappiness. True friends can be honest with each other, but they shouldn't be unkind. For example, if one friend asks the other what she thinks of her new haircut, a true friend might point out that it doesn't flatter the shape of her face. Someone who is not a true friend might make the same point, that the haircut is unflattering, but do so in a way that is likely to hurt the friend's feelings.
5) Finally, many people differentiate between their friends and their "best friend." Psychologists have discovered an interesting pattern in the types of friends people choose as their best friends. According to scientists, friendships are valuable in helping people confirm their own identities and especially how those identities fit within a larger group. So, a best friend is more likely to be someone in your class, on your team, or someone you work with. While people can become close friends with a neighbor or someone they met at a coffee shop, those relationships seldom become "best friends." The role of the best friend is to provide support and differentiation from within a larger group.