What is a Friend?

By Howard Peiper

When it comes to finding friends, perhaps the first step is understanding exactly what a friendship encompasses. Does it mean we have each other in our Facebook lists or that we see each other every Tuesday when we play racquetball? Not really. Having a virtual connection or seeing a person once a week and enjoying his or her company is not enough. A relationship needs to have some key elements to be labeled as friendship. For example, in order for a friend to truly be considered a friend, he or she has to believe we too are a friend.

Generally speaking, many people don’t understand what a friend actually is. In many cases, they are instantly trusting of new people, and accept them into their heart without question. For these folks, they assume someone is their friend until they find out otherwise. At the other end of the spectrum, we find those who act “friendly” with others but do not consider them as “friends” for quite some time. These people need to get to know someone better before they even consider labeling them as a friend. Or, they already have a lot of friends and therefore wouldn’t consider someone they occasionally meet up with at social events a friend.

Someone who is genuinely a friend usually:

  • Has told us that we are a friend or has introduced us as their friend.
  • Has called or emailed us about meeting for coffee, lunch, etc.
  • Has done something nice for us.
  • Is sincerely interested when we talk about our life.
  • Roots for us and wants the best for us.
  • Is willing to hang out with us outside of the place we first met (work, social gathering)
  • Is someone we can trust.
  • Is someone who is loyal, who would stick by us.
  • Is someone who is honest with us.

It goes without saying that real friends make us feel good, as opposed to bringing us down. People who are genuinely our friends put our relationship above being right or trying to feel superior. If someone constantly puts us down, he or she is not a friend. If someone is really our friend, that person acts in a kind manner. He or she does nice things for us. Friends do not keep score, but there is a balance in the relationship. Sometimes one friend might be in the “spotlight” while the other is cheering on. Friends trade off giving each other the floor in a conversation and in life, and understand when the moment is their friend’s and not theirs.

The other key component to being a friend is a real face-to-face relationship. This isn’t to say that after we have established a friendship we can’t still be friends with someone once they move away. However, in order to be a friend we have to spend time with each other. While online friends can have a place in our life, they aren’t the same as in-person friendships. If we need to qualify the definition of a friend in our life (my work friend, my Facebook friend), then chances are it isn’t a real friendship, but is instead a different type of relationship.


If we can identify and nurture our true friends, our lives will be filled with meaningful relationships that support us and foster personal growth.

Dr. Howard Peiper, N.D., nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, has written several best-selling books on nutrition and natural health. His blog is: drhowardpeiper.wordpress.com.

Sacred Circle

By Meg Cassell

The sacred circle of Friendship

Around the hearth so gathered.

As diverse as can be snowflakes,

Each person uniquely patterned.


We are family, self-chosen, yes,

And some may disagree.

Though we are the dreaming seekers,

We embrace Love’s humanity.


The laughter and the fellowship,

Of stories and traditions shared,

Mystic chords of Holy Being

The Sacred Present so declared.


And so it is, this Sacred Circle

Transient might it be.

The Trust of momentary Wholeness

The Heart is open, perfectly.

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