Do you have friends? Sure, you do. Most people do. The number of friends one has is relative to their stage in life, age, social status and personal beliefs. I’ve known some people who have claimed to have “no friends” but ultimately they still have people they hang out and associate with. And maybe one would be inclined to believe that this isn’t REALLY a friend, but a friend is defined as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” So basically, someone who isn’t your partner or a member of the family that you spend time with BECAUSE YOU WANT TO.
Friendship is an important aspect of any one person’s life, because it allows you to have someone you can share in the good times with, discuss and vent about the bad times and allows you some much-needed time outside the home (which everyone needs on occasion, whether they choose to admit it or not). As children, we usually have tons of friends. When I attend an event at my son’s school, EVERY kid he points at is one of his friends. And it’s usually just that easy for kids. Everyone within the same environment and basic age range can be a friend. Childhood is simple. Wish I’d had one. But I digress…
The point is, friendships are beneficial for both parties as they can help you to cope with the difficulties of life, traumas, illnesses, death in the family… They can also be there for the good times and share in your successes, your victories and your good times. And cracking a few cold ones while sharing some idle chatter? Don’t even get me started! Friends also help you develop a sense of belonging.
So how many friends does one have? And no, I’m not referring to social media followers… Well, depending on what source you consult, the average North American adult usually maintains four or five friendships. For the purposes of this post, I refer to a friendship as a relationship where you speak and/or hang out with the person in question at least once a week or more. Anything less than that falls under the category of casual acquaintance. As a young person, that number might have been significantly higher.
I bring this up because in a recent application, I was asked to provide twenty references who are not family or related. TWENTY! I don’t think I had that many friends even when I WAS a youth. I mean, whatever happened to the good ol’ days of two professional references and two personal references? I’m not sure why any employer would be of the opinion that they need twenty people as reference for one single applicant, but what do I know?
It got me to thinking… I keep a pretty tight social circle. I mean, REALLY tight. I don’t maintain many friendships, and even the long-term friendships that I’ve had for decades are on the other side of the country so we don’t exactly catch up over beers every week. I spend the majority of my free time with my wife and children, which if one consider the true meaning of wealth, makes me extremely rich. But I’m lucky enough to have two or three people that I call friend. And since real life isn’t a rom-com where people do cheesy things like telling each how how important they are to one another, I hope those couple of friends know how important they are to me. Friendship is a genuine gift, worth its weight in platinum! ☯