Somehow, I’ve always understood that in order to have a friend, I had to be a friend.  And contrary to the opinions of some, they are not the same.

Being a friend means showing interest in the things that are going on in someone else’s life. 

Having a friend means trusting that friend not to judge you when you tell her you’re having an affair.

Being a friend means being able to listen to complaints about aging parents without feeling resentment that at least his parents are still alive.

Having a friend means you can vent about your daughter’s boyfriend without expecting to hear what your daughter needs to do, or how she should be living her life.

Being a friend means realizing that although you desperately want to, sometimes you just can’t fix what’s wrong with her job, her marriage, or her mother-in-law. 

Having a friend means you can just let loose and get silly without facing the repercussions of a Monday morning quarterback.

Being a friend means offering to help out, whether it’s with child care, running errands, or bringing the wine AND the dessert.  

Having a friend means you can comfortably ask for a ride to the airport.  

I’ll happily admit that I am blessed with a fantastic group of friends — true friends who show up for me.  I’m also blessed with a fantastic group of valued acquaintances — people who I genuinely miss when it’s been awhile, yet I don’t go out of my way to seek out their company.  

I’ll  reluctantly admit that I’m not a good caller.  But I am a good call returner, and my friends understand that about me.  They don’t dish out a bunch of guilt nor stand on ceremony because they think it’s my turn to initiate. 

I am also blessed with the ability to connect with people and potentially make new friends (thanks, Dad).   I hope I will always be able to make new friends, regardless of whether they become true friends or lovely acquaintances.  Every person I meet starts out with the possibility of becoming a new and valued addition to my life, and I love that.

I once had a friend who I’ll call Dolores.  She was a few years younger than me, and had an infectious laugh.  When I hung out with her, I always had fun.  That is, until I realized that she wasn’t the slightest bit interested me.  Back then, I think my standards were higher.  Or maybe I was snobbier.  In any event, I stopped considering her a friend, and I deliberately let the relationship fade away.   Now, I am more comfortable having people in my life who I enjoy seeing, but wouldn’t ask if I could borrow their SUV to take to IKEA.  

Do you struggle to make new friends?

How do you distinguish between having a friend and being one?