Friends Forever?

How good a friend is your friend? Is he/she loyal, helpful, trustworthy and kind? Can you tell your friend your darkest secrets and be sure they will keep your confidence? Can you call on your friend for help, counsel or support when times are bad? A lot of questions we perhaps should ask ourselves these days before trusting someone.

Years ago most people had friendships that would last their entire lives. The reasons being, people were far more static than they are now, and attitudes were different.

In the past, opportunities for travel were severely restricted for most, and you spent your entire life surrounded by those who lived in your street or village. This led to a far deeper bond between people.

It was this closeness more than anything that created life-long friendships, because you grew up and worked surrounded by familiar faces. It takes years of knowing one another to produce the bonds necessary for a deep friendship to develop. On top of that, people felt more kinship with each other in a small community, and did not have the attitude of many today — me first!

I know from my own experience as a child in the north of England, if you were moving into a new neighbourhood, before the removals van was even a quarter empty your neighbour would be around with cups of tea for everyone on a tray.

Today you would say they were just being nosey, but that was not true in 99% of cases, they were just being kind, and it was their way of saying welcome to the neighbourhood.

Of course, I will be the first to admit that it was never the same everywhere. People differ from country to country and even from town to town, but it is a good example of what things used to be like.

Now the modern age has brought mobility to the masses. With this increased ease of travel has come the possibility for people to move at will wherever they please. Some move because of work, some just to buy a better house. Either way, this migration has meant that few spend their entire lives in the place they were born.

This movement is not necessarily a bad thing because it gives everyone the chance to improve their standard of living, but in all this there has been one major casualty. You guessed; True friendship!

Ok! Yes, I know you have friends, but would they stick their hand in the fire for you, or at 3 a.m. drive a hundred miles in a storm to tow your car if you broke down? Not likely! They may well search the directory for the telephone number of a local garage, or offer to pick you up at the train station, but that is about as far as it would go.

If you had some dark secret that you just had to share with someone for your own piece of mind, is there anyone you could tell without the whole neighbourhood knowing about it the next day? If you can come up with a name you are indeed blessed. No! I don’t mean your Mother, think again!

An acquaintance of mine has been let down several times by so-called friends. She is the type who would do anything for a friend, and always thought of them before herself. She is a person you or I would want as a soul-mate, always there when you needed help, and a true confidant.

Because she has been let down so many times, I often advised her to take her time, find out what sort of person she was dealing with before making a commitment to real friendship. This has been very difficult for her because she is the type who enters spontaneously into a friendship.

Even when shopping, she always stops and has a friendly chat with the sales person or cashier. It’s just the way she is. She has to my knowledge, never refused help to friends in difficulty, even when it meant her own things must be put aside.

People like her are few and far between these days, and it is sad indeed when they are constantly kicked in the teeth by someone they thought was a good friend.

Recently a ‘close girl-friend’ of several years suddenly stopped calling her, and wanting to find out why she sent her a text message. The reply was an abusive message with the words “stop pestering me,” and no explanation. Naturally she was very upset and called me close to tears, wondering what she had done to deserve this thoughtless reply. This is not the first time. On each occasion I give her the same advice; Put it behind you and let it be a lesson.

Some time ago she had a similar problem with a girlfriend she cares a lot about. Even though this person often used her as the butt of her jokes when out in a crowd, she cared enough to let it go. Several times in the past this friend has upset her deeply by suddenly being uncaring or insulting. But, because she cares, she keeps going back for more.

As someone with a kind heart, and who is happy to be everyone’s friend I know there will be rough times ahead until she has learned to, how shall I say it, “Separate the wheat from the chaff”.

I learned a long time ago that as times have changed, so have people. The majority are extremely self-centred today and always put themselves first. In most cases friendship is a shallow thing, good for a night out, the occasional barbecue or going to a football match, but don’t expect too much. If the old concept of friendship was a five-storey building, then today, the top two floors have been removed.

You may think I am being over-dramatic on this subject, and maybe I am, but I have lived a long time and seen the changes in people over the years. Don’t get me wrong however, I am not condemning today’s society as a bunch of shifty, worthless individuals. Of course there are people out there who do not ‘fit the mould’, but it is sad to see the numbers are dropping with each succeeding generation.

It is world’s apart to have someone to socialise and have fun with, but when the chips are down, it’s a different matter if you need a friend you can share your feelings and problems with, knowing they will be sympathetic and helpful and not gossip about it to all and sundry.

Perhaps, who knows, the idea of a real meaningful friendship will again be popular at sometime in the future. I hope so.

May your friends never let you down – nor you them.


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