Through the decades, I've found friends and lost friends. Some of those lost were voluntarily or consciously let go, and I've had varying reasons for doing so. One became too toxic and literally unhealthy for me to the point that I was having nightmares, waking up breathless with chest tightness. Another one changed and I felt that the other person was acting like I wasn't good enough anymore. I certainly don't need that kind of attitude and energy in my life.
As an introvert in her 40s, making new friends especially in a foreign country has never been harder for me. I've realized how selective I've become and I suppose it's really because most of the time I feel that I'm already happy with my existing friends. However, I don't want to fully give up. I still think the process of developing new friendships is an adventure I can't just pass up on. Besides, the few real friends I've fairly recently discovered have all been wonderful, making the process totally worthwhile.
I don't need to tell you how important friendships are. That said, I don't believe in wasting my time with connections that simply aren't working out. The more we age, the more valuable time becomes and I want to spend that time with connections that will nourish me and suit who I am instead of me still trying to fit in. After all the heartaches, disappointments, fun and lessons learned, I've concluded that the following are the types of friends I intend to keep for the long haul...
We all live terribly busy lives and having friends spread out across the globe has become more of the norm than the deviation. With all the busyness and the fast-paced lives we live, the last thing you need is a friend who demands constant contact, hence adding to your stress and insanity, rather than be a source of calm and be your soft spot to land on. Real friends are those who don't equate the authenticity of your friendship with frequency of contact. I very rarely communicate with most of my truest, oldest friends but every time we do, as cliche as it sounds, it always feels as if we've just spoken yesterday and can pick up from where we left off.
One of the most spot on memes I've seen recently on social media is that one that says 'True friends don't judge each other; they judge other people together'. Kidding aside, no one needs a judgmental person in their circle of friends. At any point in your life, but most especially as you're older and have become more sure of yourself and have healed your disease to please, you'd want to be in the company of people with whom you can be your true self without fear of rejection or rebuke. You don't want a friend who feels superior or is self-righteous that you always find yourself walking on eggshells, trying not to disappoint. You really don't need that crap in your life. Life is too short to be spent around people who constantly exude an overcritical vibe and who are not so forgiving of people's flaws. Friendships are about building a circle of trust and that includes trusting that you can be your authentic self and know that such will always be enough.
Trust is very important at any age but more so as you get older. Our lives become more complex and nothing is as black or white as they used to be when we were much younger. As such, you would want to have friends you can discuss anything with--your troubles, your gray areas, moral dilemma, etc.--and feel assured that whatever you say will not mysteriously be broadcasted to the entire town. And really good friends are those who you feel have the moral capacity to discern on their own which topics are confidential and which can be publicly consumed. They would have that level of discretion and propriety that you feel you can always rely on.
Deep But Easygoing Friends
I would like to believe that as people age, the more depth we acquire. Aging, for the most part, truly teaches us how to sift through our life experiences so we can cherish things that truly matter and let go of superficial ones. Most of us become more reflective and insightful and it's great to have friends around you who appreciate your wisdom and whose insights you can also rely on. You need people around you with whom you can discuss the meaning of life, or debate the existence of free will, while also having humor and acknowledging that none of these deep thoughts matter in a zombie apocalypse scenario.
Friends Who Value You
And I certainly don't mean this in a utilitarian kind of way. 'Friends' who only remember you when they need something from you are not true friends by any means. What you need are friends who make you feel seen, understood and with whom you feel genuinely connected to in a spiritual and mental level. I know I said that low-maintenance friends are precious and though true friends don't demand constant contact, the need for quality connections is still important. It's that feeling of assurance that you remain important to each other, that there is solid mutual respect and affection dependent only on who you are and not necessarily on what you can give. Being you and time spent with you, no matter how brief, will always be enough to this true friend.
These are the types of friends, TRUE FRIENDS, old and new, that I have and intend to keep.
What about you? Any criteria you'd like to add?