How Do You Know When a Friend Is a Friend?

I was chatting with a family member last week and it took me down memory lane to college days. I was telling her about all those unforgettable friendships forged a lifetime ago, some of which I still maintain to this day. And I had a light bulb moment for this article.

I have always been a sucker for happy endings, so I don’t watch suspense or action flicks very often unless I have a movie date that loves that sort of thing. (Horror movies are a definite no-no for me!) So when people leave my life, I often go through months or even years of ‘grieving’! I wish it ain’t so, but it’s just how I’m made up. Especially if the person or the memories meant something to me, or I never got closure. However, if they needed to go, I just move right along without a second thought on to the next step of my journey.

But ever really wonder why some friendships or relationships endure and why others don’t? I’ve struggled with it for many years and though the struggle is far from over, I am in a better position to share what I’ve learnt using examples from my life.

We’ve all heard the saying that people come into our lives for a ‘reason, season or lifetime’, but it goes much deeper than that. Sometimes we meet a person (whether male or female) and we ‘click’ with them instantaneously. Maybe it’s because of our energy or chemistry, or simply because we see qualities in each other that we both like at the time.

In some cases, one party may even have opportunistic or selfish motives because the other person represents something they wish to have in their lives (however briefly). In that case, the friendship would be short-lived unless we wish to perpetuate the torture and abuse.

Furthermore, life is fluid, always changing as circumstances change and we grow, we sometimes ‘grow out of people’. Sounds cold, but it’s life. We no longer have things in common and our lives have taken us into different directions.

That friend may have changed, or maybe we too are no longer that person we used to be. Some may have become more mature and introverted due to family or business/career priorities, while others may have become more extroverted and carefree.

In the cases where these conditions exist and the friendships still remain intact is the true test. If this occurs it means that the bond is greater than the surface and though the two may now enjoy different pastimes and the dynamic has changed somewhat, at the core is unconditional love which traverses all borders.

Then there are friendships where the two lives have changed, but the energy and memories are still strong despite not seeing or talking to each regularly. This is the friendship I was referring to which I shared in college with my friend Janet.

We were roommates and the first month or so we hardly even spoke to each other, although our rooms were just across the hall. I thought she was a party girl and we had nothing in common. And well she thought I was really “bright” (smart) and had a boyfriend! This was so far from the truth! One day we ended up speaking somehow and we were inseparable for the next 3 years!



We had breakfast, lunch and dinner together unless our schedules clashed and we had class. We used to go driving for these yummy burgers two towns away every Tuesday and Wednesday night (you know the one with all the dressings and the pineapple on top!). Janet helped me cook and she shared her mom’s weekly stash of lunch so I won’t have to prepare meals every day.

We had all night study sessions with our other roommates and on a Friday night after class Janet and I went up to the rooftop of the building where we lived and drank Correia’s Hard Wine which was a really good $17 stash of famous white wine back in those days. We laughed so hard about the people and things that bothered us for the week and all the lecturers we liked and didn’t like! We talked about all the theories we learnt in Psychology and applied it to our lives.

On a Sunday afternoon, we walked to campus and sat on a bench or went to the hills to a nearby seminary overlooking the most fantastic view of the city and chatted about where we would be today. Oh! If only we knew what maturity would bring, we would have stayed young a little bit longer! We gave advice and listened to each other go on and on about the boys that did us wrong. We fantasized about all the cute Portuguese, Brazilian and European football players we wanted to marry one day!

Janet and I went to the beach with other roommates and when it was holiday time, we went clubbing and hit almost every university night there was in the country from East to West and North to South! We hung out at the malls and went grocery shopping. We even spent weekends at each other’s houses and got to know each other’s parents and siblings. We had THE BEST time. Wow! Those were the days of carefree freedom and bliss.

After we graduated and moved back home, we spoke on the phone quite a lot and then we seemed to lose touch. Over the years we have only seen each other a handful of times and a few years ago when I moved to another city, Janet even came to visit me with her family and I got to meet her kids.



Now, more than 10 years later since graduating, we are there for each other as we cope with the death of family members, the birth of her children, near death experiences and many life changes.

Our lives are totally different and we live on two opposite ends of the country and communicate every few weeks via technology, yet the friendship is still as strong as all those years ago. We always agree that our energy traverses distance and time and our fond memories preserve our friendship in a very special place in our hearts, minds and soul.

I have a few other solid friendships similar to this like. Like with my male friend from college who have since migrated and many work friendships over the years as well as people who I’ve only met once or twice and have formed instant bonds that have endured! These people have seen me at my very best and my absolute worst and some of us have even had major disagreements, but our bond still stands strong all these years later.

It brings me to one conclusion. Your true friends see your character and worth deep down. They love you for you and the reverse is true. Even when you have bad hair or just in a bad mood. They love you on your sick days, your broke days and your depressed days because they know it’s just a phase. They listen to you whine and complain over everything and nothing at all, when sometimes you are even doing better than them and your troubles seem small.

They are honest enough to tell you when you mess up and you need to do better and they listen to you talk about that past love that you can’t seem to get over. They answer their phone at midnight just to hear you vent and encourage you to pursue your dreams even when the world says no and you feel like giving up.

You check on each other every day or every week without fail just to know the other is okay. And you never, ever write each other off or judge the entire friendship/relationship based on one bad day or season.

It goes both ways and if you are lucky enough to have formed these types of friendships or relationships in your life, then you are truly fortunate to know what unconditional love is. You need people like this in your inner circle in order to stay positive and grow into your purpose. Coincidentally this is the foundation for a good marriage.

Your positive energy is what attracts these people to your life over and over again and what makes them stay. What you give is what you shall receive. Remember it’s not about the frequency or the abundance of contact(s) or about the spatial and temporal barriers that divide, but about the quality, authenticity, love, joy and peace it brings to your life.

I can’t imagine my life without these beautiful people in it. You light up my world, show me a better way and make me see the beauty of life and living.

Thank You to all my true friends who have stuck it out and love me for me. You mean more to me than you know.


Carolyn K. Correia is the author of Thinking out Loud and How To Find Yourself and Claim What’s Yours. She is also a communications consultant, freelance writer, blogger and motivational speaker. Learn more about her here or stay updated on Facebook – CarolynCorreiaAuthor.

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