Main Entry: 1 Friend
Etymology: Middle English frend, from Old English frēond; akin to Old High German friunt friend, Old English frēon to love, frēo free
Date: before 12th century
1 a : one attached to another by or esteem b : acquaintance 2 a : one that is not hostile b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group 3 : one that or promotes something (as a charity) 4 : a favored companion […]
According to Merriam-Webster’s definition, as listed above, the word “friend” seems like such a simple term. Especially 2a. But as someone with Aspergers and an individual like anyone else, I think I can safely say that each person has a different definition of this word.
When I think about what the word “friendship” means to me, the most basic definition I could come up with would be 1) A relationship in which both parties share a genuine interest in each other’s welfare
However, most of my relationships (by my definition) would not truly be friendships. I tend to seek out people who I admire for one reason or another and not people who genuinely care about me (although I do occasionally get lucky with this) I think this is where I set myself up for failure on a consistent basis.
Now, I also think that when I break down the meaning of “friendship” even more, it gets much more complex than it necessarily needs to be. All of my life, I have been searching for “deep meaningful relationships”.
What does this mean? To me, it means that I am always looking for people that I do not have to hunt down constantly to make sure they’re alright (because they’ve already let me know and asked me how I am as well) I don’t have to sit and worry if I’m bothering them (because they seek me out just about as often as I seek them out), and that I can share thoughts with that go beyond the realm of “How are you? (Fine, and you?)” and “Oh boy, it’s sure cold outside today isn’t it?” because I can’t stand small talk.
So for years I have been going about seeking out friends the wrong way. I’m not sure how I’ve been “choosing” these people, but they tend to be leaders or have strengths that I admire whether artistically, spiritually, or socially. They tend to be leaders or “protectors” as I’ve described in my “Can I Hug You?” blog post.
The thought occurred to me tonight that maybe if I stop seeking people out so much and just set an example of what I want in a friend with people that seek me out, I might have a much better success rate. This theory doesn’t sound as appealing to me for some reason but that might be because I am afraid of letting go of the people I have stamped as “friend” in my book, that might need to be re-evaluated.
So how do I go about this? What does this mean for me? This means I need to be a better listener. It means I need to listen without the intent of guiding the conversation in a direction I necessarily understand or desire to discuss.
It means setting aside time for others, as I would want them to do for me. It means I need to be a liiiittle bit more open to other topics. Hey, if people are willing to listen to me quote episodes of Seinfeld then I need to be okay with listening to their stories too.
I have always thought that being a leader meant knowing how to speak, but maybe a great leader knows how to speak in a way people can relate to them because they first knew how to listen first.
So, that’s enough rambling. Let’s try this out, shall we?
How would you define the word friend?
I am all ears.