A good friend shared a few excerpts from an article in The Atlantic titled “It’s Your Friends Who Break Your Heart.” His notes inspired a wonderful conversation on our friendship and reminded me that I should reflect on and write about this topic more as it is one that matters a lot to me. For now, here are the excerpts –
Back in the 1980s, the Oxford psychologists Michael Argyle and Monika Henderson wrote a seminal paper titled “The Rules of Friendship.” Its six takeaways are obvious, but what the hell, they’re worth restating: In the most stable friendships, people tend to stand up for each other in each other’s absence; trust and confide in each other; support each other emotionally; offer help if it’s required; try to make each other happy; and keep each other up-to-date on positive life developments.
The problem is that when it comes to friendship, we are ritual-deficient, nearly devoid of rites that force us together. Emily Langan, a Wheaton College professor of communication, argues that we need them. Friendship anniversaries. Regular road trips. Sunday-night phone calls, annual gatherings at the same rental house, whatever it takes. “We’re not in the habit of elevating the practices of friendship,” she says. “But they should be similar to what we do for other relationships.”
When I consider the people I know with the greatest talent for friendship, I realize that they do just this. They make contact a priority. They jump in their cars. They appear at regular intervals in my inbox. One told me she clicks open her address book every now and then just to check which friends she hasn’t seen in a while—and then immediately makes a date to get together.
“Philip made me feel that my best self was my real self,” he finally said. “I think that’s what happens when friendships succeed. The person is giving back to you the feelings you wish you could give to yourself. And seeing the person you wish to be in the world.” I’m not the sampler-making sort. But if I were, I’d sew these words onto one.
Each of these is beautiful. But this idea – “The person is giving back to you the feelings you wish you could give to yourself. And seeing the person you wish to be in the world.” – is exquisitely put.
Here’s to more conversations about friendship.