Whether it is between spouses, parent/child, co-workers, friends, siblings, boss/employee, every relationship involves two imperfect human beings trying to make sense of their lives. Their conflicts arise due to, more than anything else, the inability of one—or both—to accept the other as just he or she is.
Yet, if there’s one relationship in which this quality of acceptance is found in abundance, it is friendship. Somehow, we are able to forgive friends more easily; we judge them a lot less harshly; we disagree with them without becoming disagreeable. Lapsed time too seems to have no effect on true friendships—we start off where we left off as if we never parted. No wonder we are most comfortable being ourselves in the midst of our friends.
True friendships are characterised by qualities such as tolerance, understanding and mutual respect. The late Alan Loy McGinnis considered friendship as the springboard to every other love. In his bestselling book The Friendship Factor, he wrote, “Friendships spill over onto the other important relationships of life. People with no friends usually have diminished capacity for sustaining any kind of love. They tend to go through a succession of marriages, be estranged from various family members, and have trouble getting along at work. On the other hand, those who learn how to love their friends tend to make long and fulfilling marriages, get along well with the people at work, and enjoy their children.”
As humans, we can’t help being in relationships. To love, to share, and to trust one another is intrinsic to us. It is also true that some of the most difficult challenges in our lives come in the form of relationships. It follows then that unless we master the art of happy relationships, we can never feel fulfilled.
This is the month when love is celebrated. And the one ingredient essential for the longevity of all relationships, including romantic love, is friendship. So, this month’s issue is dedicated to friendship. Vagdevi Meunier, a clinical psychologist, explains how we can develop the qualities of friendship that enrich all our relationships.
As you will realise when you read this month’s cover story, subtle changes can bring about huge improvements to the way we relate. All we need is a little effort in the beginning. The rest will be done by a blessing called friendship.