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Authentic Friendships

Friendships are so important aren’t they? - and fundamental to our wellbeing. Here are a few reflections on being more authentic in our friendships. I hope you find these useful.

Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit. - Aristotle

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” - C.S. Lewis

I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together.  Powerful stuff. - Jon Katz

A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow. - William Shakespeare

As we get older making authentic connections with others becomes harder; developing and maintaining genuine lasting friendships takes more effort.

A few things to consider when we think about our more valued friendships is to think about our investment, a bit like putting a few pounds away each week into you savings account, one day you will see some real value in the saving.

The investment here though is not just about giving to the friendship in practical ways that is obviously an extremely valuable part of friendship. The investment I want to focus on here is more about considering your role in the relationship and taking responsibility for your part in the ‘whole’ relationship, which includes the highs and the lows.

A few principles you can consider that will help you be a more authentic self in your friendships:

  • I want to ensure that your perspective of me is trustworthy
  • I’m human and fallible, I sometimes make mistakes
  • You too can make mistakes
  • I don’t expect you to be perfect
  • Making ‘mistakes’ is part of relationships
  • You can tell me if I react in an inappropriate way in the future and I won’t fall apart
  • I don’t always recognise immediately the impact of what I’ve said or done; sometimes that comes through a time of reflection
  • We can always revisit something that is troubling us.

Being an authentic friend is not just about listening to yourself, but also being prepared to listen to other people’s perspective or perceptions of you, and being open to acknowledge it when there may be something they need to tell you about their experience of you. Feedback doesn’t define you, but it can inform you how to be a more authentic friend in the future.