According to Wikipedia “Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. ” According to Dr. Suzanne Degges-White “Friendships require reciprocity – of admiration, respect, trust, and emotional and instrumental support.” Finding friends when you’re younger seems easier, you have a classroom full of possibilities, peers to play with on the playground and within days you have a new friend.
From this How Stuff Works article “Friendships develop as each person reveals a little bit more about herself and the ‘friend-in-the-making’ matches the self-disclosure with disclosures of her own. It’s how trust is built between people – through mutual sharing of increasingly intimate or personal information,” says Degges-White. In fact, research has revealed that it takes about 50 hours’ worth of face time for a mere acquaintance to become a casual friend, then 90 hours to upgrade to the status of a standard friend. Then, it takes about 200 additional hours of interaction for a “close friendship” to develop!”
It’s no wonder why finding friends as an adult is so much more challenging, 200 hours is a long time when you have a family and full time job. For me, personally, I think it’s less time. I have found a group of several ladies who I consider my tribe and another whom I met who fostered my service dog. They are women that I trust, whom I feel safe sharing information about my life without being judged, who will not tell my story to other people. For them, I will be a fiercely loyal friend, I will hold their secrets in my heart and never betray them. I will offer advice from my personal experiences and help them however I can. In return, I expect the same level of loyalty and trust, a place I can be myself without judgement or fear of them sharing my personal story to people outside of the friendship.
At the same time, friendships with a chronic illness makes everything a bit more difficult. There are days when I have to cancel or withdraw because my body and brain betray me. When I need someone to understand that I am having a bad day or that my words aren’t working and but still need a safe, non-judgmental space.
From the same How Stuff Works article, close friends are “the people you trade secrets with. Degges-White elaborates: ‘There’s not just a strong level of trust between these friends, there’s also a whole lot of unconditional regard and affinity. You may not like a close friend’s choices, but you’d defend her right to make them.'”
Best friends are the greatest friends, “”Best friends are the rarest type of friend and the kind of friend that we all need to have in our lives. It’s the friend who gets you without you having to explain yourself. It’s the type of friend who loves you no matter what,” Degges-White says. And they’re not necessarily people you talk to every day. “You might go weeks or months without connecting, but when you do re-connect, it’s as if no time has passed at all.” I have two of these, my husband and a woman whom I have known since I was 16.