WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT
At each stage in your life, you will have opportunities to make and enjoy new friendships. Next to family, nothing is of greater value in one’s life than your genuine friends.
Here are recommendations regarding friendships:
Genuine friends find a way to tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. On the other hand, be extremely tactful and diplomatic in answering any questions from a friend that start with: “I want you to be perfectly honest with me.” Sometimes, it is better to tell a “white lie”, especially when someone asks you about his or her appearance.
To enjoy lasting friendships, keep these points in mind:
You have to be prepared to invest some time and energy in maintaining close friendships, especially when friends live elsewhere from you. Make an effort to keep in touch with your friends. When you hear that friends are experiencing any type of distress, call to let them know you are thinking about them. Do not take your friends for granted. It is also never too late to get back in touch with old friends.
The more friends you have from a wide range of diverse backgrounds and cultures, the richer your life will be. Friends are not only there to provide mutual support and fun, they should also ideally broaden both your horizons and your awareness about the world around you.
Refraining from telling a friend what you really think about his or her offending behavior is not a good practice, especially if the behavior is either self-destructive or involves repeatedly doing or saying something that upsets you. Often, it is far better to confront such a friend in a constructive manner early on as opposed to letting the issue fester and become much worse than it needs to be. Under some circumstances, it pays to be brutally honest with a friend, particularly when you trust each other.
From time to time, you may encounter a situation where it is best to end a friendship for a number of reasons. Sometimes, you will have a friend whose constant negativity drags you down incessantly. Rather than have a destructive emotional blow-up, often the easiest way to end the relationship is by not initiating any further contact and by keeping any conversations diplomatically brief when this person contacts you. In most cases, your objective should be to ease out of the friendship but still remain on friendly terms.
A last note of caution — you never really know the true moral character of someone until that person’s back is against the wall in tough times. Before you rush to judge any friend in that situation, put yourself in his or her shoes. Be a genuine friend in all types of weather. When people get into trouble, that is when they find out who their real friends are.
Many friendships are based on sharing a common interest that draws people together — a sport, hobby, some element of culture or the arts. In my case, I have a large number of friends resulting from my passion for reading and collecting mystery fiction. These include authors, book dealers and fellow collectors.
When I read a book that impresses me by a new author, I often call the author on the phone or send a letter or e-mail, saying how much I enjoyed the book and asking about the author’s next book to be published. If I cannot find the author’s contact information on the Internet or through a telephone listing, I send a letter c/o the author’s publisher. It is a simple gesture to start a friendship but as a result I now have many author friends in England, Australia, South Africa, the U.S. and Canada.