buz just posted his definition of what true friendship is. It's so obvious, and yet it was a good reminder not only of what I should expect of others but of what I should expect from myself:
Recently I have discovered (or rediscovered) what it means to be a friend, rather than an acquaintance, or just a plain old bad friend.
Here are some qualities that have become clear to me that "friends" exhibit (and feel free to add to the list). I believe that a true friend has at least all of these, not just some:
1. Availability: Actively work to make time, or fit in visits/calls/emails, and think to include someone other than themselves in things and events.
2. Forgiveness: No resentment or any type of hard feelings about not having seen them in X months (or years), or failure to go to some party of theirs, or shame that they did not show at one of yours, or other puny faux pas. Acceptance that some toes may be stepped on from time to time, but sight of the big-picture is never lost.
3. Perspective: Awareness of what the "small stuff*" is, and not to sweat it, and what the big stuff is, and to attend to it.
4. Attention: "When people think you're dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of just... - waiting for their turn to speak." (Hopefully you don't have to be literally dying to be heard. But friends know when it's not time for a "conversation".) Interest in what others think and feel, not just a excuse to appear a certain way to a group.
5. No Reasons Needed: No special occasion, event, purpose is needed to initiate contact. No excuse, just "Hi - How ya doin'?" for no reason - Picking up the phone for just friendship.
6. Selflessness: Doing things simply for others, with sometimes no benefit (or even causing detriment) to themselves. A true willingness to choke down a nasty meal as not to insult their host.
7. Generosity: Willingly give whatever possible. Money, time, couch/bed, drinks, meals, etc.
8. Loyalty/Proof: Assumption that negative aspects may not be (fully) true and there are reasons, or more to the story. Not blind faith/trust, but demanding evidence or confirmation of all things contrary to what was previously known to be true, normal or typical.
9. Devil's Advocate: Willingness to give and receive hard truths, painful options and/or general unpleasantness, without taking or meaning offense. Not giving a "There There" and a hug when a kick in the ass is needed. A real friend will know when to offer a couch, and when to slam the door. Calling a spade a spade with a willingness to take the consequences, even if that would end the friendship, because a real friend will always aim for truth and what's "right", even if that's a risk to themselves or their friend. In short, they won't let a friend go down the wrong path just because they don't want to make waves.
*At this point I usually say, "And it's ALL small stuff", but that's really not true. Most really is small, but some things are incredibly huge and deserve and demand respect and attention. In comparison to creating and caring for a life that you are responsible for, or dealing with health or death, or matters of sheer survival, everything else truly is small -er.
Do your friends have all of these traits?