Happiness consists in activity. It is running steam, not a stagnant pool.

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes ~

Definition of Friends

April 21st, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 38 secs

How do you define your friends?

What is a good definition of friends?  Are friends people we like who like us back? Or are friends more than that? Aside from your friendships bringing happiness, they get us thinking about meaning, ourselves, and life itself. Despite the fact that our friendships can be: 

  • Long lasting or remarkably brief
  • Stormy, or lovingly supportive and secure
  • Emotionally intimate and deep, or completely superficial,

just having friends teaches us an enormous amount about what it means to be alive, human, and vital.

Here are some definitions of friends that you can consider in terms of your own experience. You might find some of your friends could fit in multiple categories or, maybe, just one. Either way, friends give us influence, just as they influence us. Whatever your definition of friends, it’s profound knowing that your friendships define you.


Definition of Friends: Dear Friends

The people you feel closest to. Such friends may or may not be part of your family, but you feel a deep kinship with them. You can share personal confidences with them safely because your mutual trust runs deep.


Definition of Friends: Supporters

They could be patrons of the theatre, fans of a group, or members of a cause. Such friends share a key interest in common and build relationship from there.


Definition of Friends: Buddies

People who stick by you as mates, chums, or pals. You might not necessarily know them very well, but your relationship with buddies is one of affection and familiarity that endears you to each other.


Definition of Friends: Colleagues

Acquaintances and associates who you like and appreciate in your workplace, school, or wider social circle.


Definition of Friends: People of Place

The significant people in your life, aside from relations, public figures, and those you don’t like, who populate your social landscape. Just as buildings, roads, towns, and land features make a landscape, friendships create key areas of interest, defining where you are. Go somewhere where you have friends and it feels a friendly “place.” Travel somewhere where you have no friends and you can feel a sense on not belonging there. Without friends or at least some friendliness to define the territory, a location can even feel intimidating.


Definition of Friends: Allies

People you can rely on in relation to common understandings. Like supporters, allies are more loosely arranged. They may be sympathetic to shared cultural values, or share strategic alliances that benefit each party.  Regardless, the focus of allies is maintaining good will.

Definition of Friends: Likes

People who we add on social networking websites, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. At this casual level, commitment is minimal but agreeable.


Definition of Friends: Friends of Convenience 

Friends who we find going the same way in life can form relationships based simply on convenience. The relationship holds because each person needs the other or wants what the others have. Unlike allies, friends of convenience focus on the key benefits. Such associations can be selfish or highly cooperative; short term or long lasting. Over time, however, friends of convenience often morph into deeper connections.


Definition of Friends: Friends Through Service

Some of the most satisfying friendships are those where people help each other for no greater personal reason than valuing the people in it. People serving others for no obvious gain can form mutual friendships. Yet to flourish, all parties need to find ways to contribute. This could be through appreciation, shared respect, affection, and intimacy.


Whatever your definition of friends, whether we call them chums, acquaintances, mates, buddies, pals, cobbers, colleagues, companions, china, cock, homeboys, confidantes, soul mates, efriends, or simply, best friends, the fundamentals remain the same. The Nineteenth Century Chinese thinker, Tehyi Hsieh, put it thus: “Life is partly what we make it, and partly what is made by the friends whom we choose.”


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