Ahem, you’ve got something…

…stuck in your teeth, (or whiskers, as the case may be).

This is my dear friend Willa. Not only do I tell her when she’s got something stuck in her whiskers, I help her get it out. In turn, she cleans my face by getting in as many licks as she possibly can.

True friendship between humans has many components:

  • We tell the truth, even if the message is uncomfortable to deliver.
  • We say pleasant things behind each others backs.
  • We actively listen to each other.
  • We hold each others secrets in confidence.
  • We extend mutual respect and value each other’s individuality.
  • We inspire each other and support each other’s dreams.

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” —Anais Nin

What defining quality do you look for in a friend?

© lauriebuchanan.com

64 thoughts on “Ahem, you’ve got something…

  1. Every Tuesday morning I wonder what Laurie is going to come up with this week. You always find a clever topic close at hand or wandering around Boise. Today it’s whiskery Willa.

    One thing I would add is a sense of humor. This from another blogger: Most of us don’t need a psychiatric therapist as much as a friend to be silly with. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

    And from an unknown author: A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half-cracked.

  2. Laurie, you’ve really got me thinking this morning about good friendships and the times I do NOT tell the truth because it’s uncomfortable or another reason. Good fodder for thought this morning! Thank you for your gift of giving us the opportunity to reflect more deeply.

    • I find you to be truthful in the kindest way, Kathy. But since you are being truthful here, I trust you….which is the quality in friendship that I value almost more than any other….trustworthiness, loyalty and respect. Great question Laurie. And when we meet, let’s plan the secret wink that means, “You have a bit of kale between your teeth!” xooxS

  3. All of the above plus someone who shares the same morals, responsibility and expectations of their children as we do as well as the same value of family life. I have many acquaintances but very few close friends based on all of the above!! Great post!!

  4. Thanks Laurie … a thoughtful post. And I agree you’ve captured the core essential characteristics of a good friend. I’ve also valued several other special qualities, capacities and capabilities throughout this past year or so of serious health issues experienced by several family members. When I’m receiving friendship or kindness or being there for others, the ability to experience or be truly empathetic is a treasure. Then there are times when I or others have needed more than empathy. So it takes deep listening (on the other or mine own part) to appreciate what more might be needed or appreciated. It can often be something simple and practical. My mom (now in hospice and family care with late stage cancer) has mentioned she values my approach of asking vs. telling (a skill I’ve certainly learned as a coach). This allows her to have some “control” when little else in her control. I would also saying “showing up” or “presence” on a consistent basis is high on my list. I have a couple of friends who call or email me regularly just to check in and inquire on my well-being, share something going on in their life (distraction and attention outside oneself very positive) and lend that empathetic presence. Good to be reminded that one is not alone.
    For all of the above received I am grateful. It also assists me to build the capacity to share it out again with mom and other family members or friends or just a person I meet during my day’s journey who may need the same.

    • Audrey — I love the ingredients you’ve added to the growing authentic friend list: true empathy, deep listening (Satsang — sacred listening), asking versus telling, and consistent presence. Thank you for sharing your life observations here today.

  5. I really like this one, dear Laurie, because I know exactly what I need in a friend …
    Someone I can be my real self and someone who loves me for who and what I am .

    I have struggled with many years not liking myself . Of not thinking I’m good enough so I have many acquaintances but few friends . I’m pleased to say I am starting to see that I’m a good old stick really, but every so often ,someone comes along that reminds me how I used to feel and I run for the hills . lol

  6. I would say all of the things you mentioned, Laurie, as well as Marian’s comment about a sense of humor. I would also say that a true friend is someone you can count on and you can pick up with, even if you haven’t seen that person for a long time. That said, there are also casual friends who perhaps you do not expect as much from?

    • Merril — Being able to count on someone (reliability) is key. And I’d have to agree that readily picking up where you left off makes for a comfortableness that’s unique with true friends.

      I share your observation that I don’t have the same expectations from “casual friends” (people who are more in the “acquaintance” category).

  7. I like that phrase ” we say pleasant things behind each other’s backs.” An excellent reminder that we can deepen a friendship even when not in the friend’s presence. I love laughter and trust in the presence of a good friend.

    • Shirley — Yes indeed, “Laughter” and “Trust” are vital elements in authentic friendship. And you bring up an additional action-oriented aspect when you speak of “deepen a friendship.” A wonderful implication that true friendship needs to be cultivated, nurtured, and maintained. Thank you for pointing to that 🙂

  8. I’m certainly not much of an expert on the art of friendship, but in those relationships that I’ve been able to maintain, I would say that generosity has been a key component. Generosity of spirit, generosity of humor, generosity of time and attention, etc. An abundance of generosity does seem to help the seeds of friendship grow, whether your best friend has two legs or four. 🙂

    Actually, your post got me to thinking (thank you). It reminded me of an incident, when one of my grown sons asked me a question. He was looking for a one-word answer as to how to keep a marriage strong. Off the cuff, my response was “kindness”. A few years down the road, I wonder if “generosity” might not have been the better answer.

  9. Hi Laurie

    Really interesting question.

    I have been thinking back over some of the friendships in my life.
    Some few have been long lived.
    Some have been deep and short in time.

    There was George, whom I met in primary school (aged 9), who was perhaps my first true friend. We shared many interests at the time, and we gradually grew apart, as our understandings and interests grew apart. We haven’t seen each other in almost 20 years, and that is mostly because I moved 300 miles away.
    There is Jim whom I met at about age 12, whom Ailsa and I stayed with last year. We stay in touch irregularly. We have a lot of shared history, and overlap of interests, and also some wide divergence.
    There is Chris, whom I met at age 18, whom I contact about once a year now. Our lives have gone in very different directions in many aspects, and we still share a lot of history, and a deep love and respect.

    There are many others, Ailsa, Rex, Rob, Caspar, Bill, Scott, John, Grant, Alistair, you, Sandi and many more whom I know would be there if I asked them, and I rarely ask. My dad was perhaps my best friend, we worked together daily for 20 years.

    I don’t have anyone who just comes around for a chat on any sort of regular basis – that sort of friendship has never been part of my life.

    And some of the friendships have been quite short, and very meaningful for that short time – like Johnny (a fitter for the firm Northern Maintenance whom I met in 1975) who I knew for just a couple of months, and worked with him every day for that couple of months. We man hugged when the job was over – I shed tears of friendship and loss. Our intellectual interests were vastly different, and there was a respect and love present in the relationship that I will never forget.

    It seems to me that rather than me looking for anything in friendships, friendships just sort of find me. The overlaps happen when they do.
    I don’t set out ahead of time with any sort of list of qualities that I am looking for, and sometimes there are enough things present that there is a connection, a respect, a love, a set of shared interests.
    And there are a few common qualities that seem to show up consistently:
    Dogged determination

    I have no idea what “true friendship” is.

    I do know what I appreciate.

    So thank you for being my friend.
    Thank you for showing up.
    Thank you for being here.


    • Ted — your comment made me cry HAPPY tears. Thank you. Even though we’ve never met in flesh-and-blood, you and Sandi are two of my very best friends, going back to our days on Gaia. You’re both an integral part of my life — so much so I quite naturally “zip you both in the pod” each evening 🙂

      • Sandi – If I’d had milk in my mouth when I read your comment, it would have shot out my nose in laughter! Thank you.

        I know that I can, AND DO, count on your prayer support each and every day. Thank you for always being there 🙂

  10. Great post made greater by the comments. I guess, on top of everything else (and as part of everything else) I’d looked in a friend for somebody who although might not agree with me, will support me no matter what and never say ‘I told you so’.

  11. beautiful picture up top – and Willa is a champion!
    After cutting our seasonal tree my hubs had a green fir needle hanging out his nose – we laughed about it when I told him but did not take a picture….I am working on finding new ways to be a friend and it has left me in a grief mode –
    so many mothers in my world are worried about the safety of their sons; I think about the 11 women in Florida who have been forced to have a c-section by a judge – 2 have died, 1 baby has died, and 9 women have been put in prison for murder? They are constantly on my mind and now the news is blacked out – how can I be a friend? The school shootings and the loss of those wee children, and the 13 million children who go to bed hungry in the USA every single night….How can I be a friend? They are in my heart nearly constantly …. I visit with the homeless at the park on my walk everyday and they are worried too; I shared chicken soup with 4 today….and dry socks….Thankful that we have such wonderful public schools and healthcare here…
    Listening is so important Honesty….I am not such a good friend these days to my neighbors…I am too judgmental about fear….I am being told not to go anymore -loudly; I go anyway – can read a story here and share a smile… it is the season of hope and light….stars glitter up dreams

    • Patricia — I hear you. Oh how I hear you. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are a profoundly powerful listener (a practitioner of Satsang — spiritual listening). My hat is off to you for everything you do. Thank you!

  12. Laurie, there is a spark of recognition when true friends make contact for the first time, a feeling of anticipation, of satisfaction, of being able to accept and enjoy them exactly for who and how they are. Not to change them, or challenge them to be other than they are, it’s a level playing field. I admire you greatly and that makes for respect and appreciation. The fact that you shower sparks of Love where ever you go encourages me to do that too. Friendship is among the strongest of bonds, and I am so glad you and I are friends.

  13. The most vital qualities are integrity and compassion. After that there are others that make for a well-rounded person, but I’d say those two would be crucial. All the points you mention here Laurie, if they exist in a specific person, I’d that that person is very special. 🙂

  14. I agree with all these qualities, Laurie. The one I’ve been struggling most personally is telling the truth when it’s uncomfortable. I’ve made quite a bit of progress on that, but still have a way to go.

  15. Yaa Laurie, You got me thinking. How often do I tell the truth when some times the truth is bitter? But, honestly, thats the way I think the true friendship should be. Thank you.
    I like Willa 🙂

  16. Honesty… its good to know where you stand, painful but neccessary to be challenged at times.

    I have been through some very difficult times with my children. A few of my friends stood by me, stepped in, supported me, held me up or down, as the occasion demanded, advised me or stood quietly in the background while I did my thing. Whether it was actual practical help or just listening, I’ll NEVER forget it. Some bonds just last forever.

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