How to Know a True Friend

2Did you know that the deepest need of the human heart is for intimacy? That’s just another way of saying friendship. Now, I’m not talking about casual acquaintances or false friends, but true friends. Let me give you the marks of a true friend.

To make February 2015 even more intense, the planetary energies during this time period reflect an environment focused on each person redefining his or her place in life and relationships in general. It’s time to consider those people who are really crucial to your well-being and how important you are to them as well. An essential part of that redefinition is being clear about your friendships.

1The Definition of “Friend”

As we grow more and more into identities who live on social media in addition to our physically social selves, it becomes even harder to be clear about who our friends are and who we are to them. A great starting point is learning what the word “friend” actually means. Something so meaningful in our lives must have a powerful essence that’s worth examining.

One thing that is quick and fun to do is just check a dictionary and look at the origin of the word. The word “friend” comes from the Old English “freon,” meaning “to love” and “freo,” meaning “free.” These words gave birth to our modern “friend.” So through the centuries, a friend is recognized as someone who is bound by shared love and the freedom to support each other—something that demands self-love and mutual respect.

Love at the Core

If you think about it, even a Facebook friend whom you’ve never met is tied to you through a common interest or a common love. Isn’t that also why you “follow” someone on Twitter. You may both care about protecting the environment, or a certain celebrity, or you may both love cooking or a sports team. You may have a mutual friend whom you both love, so that’s the bond. In any case, there is love at its core.

4Trust and Respect

Then we get to another level of friendships that is based on trust and mutual respect. Often these grow out of circumstances, but have a real lasting effect when you learn that someone “has your back” and vice-versa. Quite often these relationships will be at work where mutual success is dependent on co-workers.

If you doubt the importance of these friends, consider people in the most intense “I have your back” situations—soldiers on the battlefield who each risk their lives for the other. They build a truly powerful love that lasts through a lifetime. We’ve all heard these stories. But even a co-worker friendship is love in this fundamental form. You share enough trust and mutual respect to succeed together, and both your livelihoods depend on that relationship. No wonder you feel a love for that person.

What’s interesting is that while you may change jobs, or sports teams, or even a political or social group, you’ve already established a bond with the people you’ve left behind. There is always the potential that through that mutual trust you formed that you’ll be counting on each other sometime in the future when circumstances or loving, friendly plans bring you back together.

Lifetime Friendships

A3nd then there are those amazing friendships that last a lifetime. Do you remember when you experienced a real loss—a job, a lover, your self-esteem, money or something or someone even more profound? There was that “someone” who was still by your side, loving you no matter how you or your life looked and reminding you that you are valuable. There is unmistakable love there. These are the friends who love you at your very core. They get who you are no matter what.

Those friendships can begin on any common ground. We’ve seen those couples interviewed who have been together over decades through any and every kind of challenge, and they are asked the secret to their success and longevity. They nearly always say, “I married my best friend.” It’s pretty clear that there is no stronger love than friendship, in the end.

Your friends are your greatest treasures. Love naturally unfolds from honest communications, and friendships unfold from love. Just call up one of those people you’ve connected with, wish them a happy Friendship Month, and tell them how valuable they are to you. Think how rich you’ll be then. Loving friendships are priceless gifts.