Recently a friend of mine asked me a question regarding friends. “Why do you think we need friends? Do we need friends?” Well it is essentially one question and simply put, “Why do we need friends?” A tricky question, I feel. We all have friends, or should I say “friends”? But we do not depend on them entirely during difficult times.
I think to answer this question, we need to define what friendship is and who is a friend? Most of you out there might think, “What question is this? Of course everyone needs friends!” But think again. How many of your friends would you rely on and spill all of your secrets, which you are dying to share with someone? None, when it comes to me. I’m sure it is also none when it comes to you out there. Be a sceptic and answer the questions before you come to a decision.
Friendship, in my opinion, is a relationship between any two person that grows and develops gradually. There are stages in a friendship. I’m lucky enough to have cultivated a 7-years worth of friendship to tell you what these stages are. Most of you out there might not have experienced all of these stages yet. I myself am still in the process of experiencing these stages with other friends. Another point to take note of is that I am speaking from a female’s point of view. Female friendships are different from male friendships. Maybe it is also different for a friendship between a male and a female. I don’t know. But let me make it clear that I am talking about friendship between ANY two persons in general. It might not be true in all the cases, but generally speaking, it is.
The first stage is when you get to know each other superficially. This is why many “friends”, who are actually just acquaintances, are said to behave superficially. In this stage, you only get to know who they are, what they are doing, which schools they have gone to, what their hobbies are,why they have come here, what are they working as and so forth. All these details are made known to each other. Next time they meet, they say ‘hi’ and talk more on details like these. This is the first stage of a beginning of a friendship and in most cases this is also the end. Most of the times, the two of them are not stuck with each other, so they loose touch. Or better still, they loose interest. Haha.
The transition from first stage to second stage is very important and this is influenced by many factors. Body language, character, attitude, personality, compatibility and so on. The friendship takes off very well at this stage if the two persons have matching wavelengths. Meaning both have some things in common. Friendship can still develop between two persons, even if they have opposing views. But only if they find a way to compromise these opposing views. However, an important criteria for a friendship to develop further is that the two people should have something in common. This will make them connect. So at this second stage, as the two persons spend more time together, learn more about the other. When they find some common ground, the friendship starts growing roots.
Until this stage, all you have for the person is respect. You treat that person with some respect during all situations. In the third stage however, informality kicks in. This is in my opinion. Some people might start being informal the instant they meet. They start using “da” or “di” or “dear” very much in the first stage itself. But in most cases, I feel that informality only kicks in when the two friends (from the 3rd stage onwards I shall refer to these two persons as two friends, because this is when they truly become friends, I will explain why later) enter the third stage. Notice that until now, I didn’t mention anything about the time frame. The stages happen in any time length, there is no fixed time length. It might take a year or just a month to reach the third stage.
In the third stage, when informality kicks in, the two friends get to know each other’s family and circle of friends. This is also the stage when the two friends share some of the things that happen in their lives. But this is not the stage when the two are ready to spill even their darkest secrets to each other. Hehe. No, not yet. This stage is more like settling in stage. Lots of sharing of feelings, problems and achievements in this stage of friendship. Real understanding of each other occurs in this stage. Each might learn new things about his/her friend each day and both come to predict each other’s behaviours in particular situations. They do not depend on each other at this stage, not yet. But they feel that they can share anything with this particular friend. In my opinion, this stage of friendship takes a long time to grow and develop. This is like the puberty part of our lives, where real change takes place, hehe. When I say long time, I mean a few years.
The fourth stage is when the two of the friends become really best friends. By now, atleast a few years or so would have passed and all these years they have, by some fortunate event, been always together. Most would be stuck at the third stage. But the transition to fourth stage happens when the two friends have really had an extraordinary moment together. This is something which can’t be explained by words, I feel. I have been through this, but I myself cannot explain. I think if my friend, who had asked me this question, had been through this stage of friendship with anyone in his life, then he would have never even asked that question in the first place. Haha. Having said that, this is the last stage of a friendship.
From here onwards, the friendship manifests in different forms, grows and develops further. Both start depending on each other. Respect is still there, but love and affection is also there. When I say depending, it doesn’t mean that one can’t live without the other. This only means that both of them feel that the other person should be near them during important events of their lives. For example, something small as their birthday or something big as their wedding! This is the stage when true friendship as seen between Karna and Dhuryodhana, Krishna and Draupadi, manifests. I regard this kind of friendship greater than the likes of BGR we see today.
Friendship is something special, especially this kind of true friendship, because it happens between two complete strangers who later discover that they form good partnership or friendship. Whereas the relationship of that between offspring and parents or siblings or any other relatives is because of a known reason. We have been seeing them and knowing them since we were born and so it is natural that such relationships are very strong. But a strong friendship developing between two initially complete strangers is strange indeed!! Haha.
We don’t need friends in life, especially those “friends” who do not mean anything to us. But when we do meet someone who we think would make a good friend to us, then we should not let them go. Keep good friends who you think deserve your friendship and let others off from your mind. That is my policy. Emotional attachment only develops at the middle of stage three and all the way through stage four. This kind of emotional attachment is something good and not something that distracts us or disturbs us. I believe that friends can be or inspirations, especially good friends. There are, you may find, lots of good things to learn from each other. There are also opportunities for friends to get rid of their bad habits because of good friendships.
If you do find a good friend in your life, and the friendship ends up in stage four, then I’m sure that person is God’s gift to you. In some way or other, your life will surely be influenced by that best friend, and that too in a good way.