We All Need Friends
“A friend is someone you can talk to freely about anything, someone you can call any time of the day.”—Yaël, France
“A friend understands when you’re hurt and feels the same things inside that you do.”—Gaëlle, France
“THERE exists a friend sticking closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) Since the time those words were written in the Bible some 3,000 years ago, human nature has not changed. Friendship is still as vital to the human spirit as food and water are to the human body. Yet, for many, satisfying this basic need for friendship is difficult. Loneliness is common. “We don’t have to look far to see some of the causes,” state Carin Rubenstein and Phillip Shaver in their book In Search of Intimacy. They cite such factors as “widespread mobility”—people changing residence frequently—“impersonal, crime-ridden cities,” and “the substitution of television and home videotape-viewing for face-to-face community life.”
Modern life also spreads our time and energy thin. “Today’s city dweller comes into contact with more people in a week than the seventeenth-century villager did in a year or even a lifetime,” writes Letty Pogrebin in her book Among Friends. With potentially hundreds of acquaintances crowding our lives, it can be difficult to focus on individuals long enough to develop and sustain deep friendships.
Even in places where not long ago the pace of life was less hectic, social conditions are changing rapidly. “We used to feel very, very close to our friends,” says Ulla, who lives in Eastern Europe. “But now many immerse themselves in their jobs or in personal pursuits. Everyone is busy all the time, and we sense our old friendships slowly coming apart.” In the haste of the times, friendships can get relegated to a lower priority.
But our need for friends remains acute. Young people in particular feel this need. As Yaël, quoted above, explains, “when you are young, you need to feel accepted and to belong, to feel close to someone.” Young or old, we all need happy and meaningful friendships. And despite the challenges, there is much we can do to make and keep real friends. The following articles will discuss this.