More than any other kind of relationship, friendship is one of the most universal human experiences there is. Whether the friendship forms over shared experiences, dreams, likes, or even physical location, having a supportive witness to our joys and pains is a crucial part of our emotional and mental health. Our desire for deep, meaningful human connection if often most strongly fulfilled by our friends. Yet it doesn’t make forming, maintaining, or even ending a friendship any easier or more intuitive. We can struggle with what we should do or say to maintain a strong, healthy, compassionate connection with someone we care about. We all live in tension with the desire to be seen and accepted—with all our quirks and perceived flaws—and the fear of rejection when our whole selves become seen. The best place to start is the truth that good friendship is dependent on compassionate reciprocity of seeing and being seen. We’ve started gathering valuable information on this topic, but haven’t yet curated the findings.
Could you easily name the 10 people who have been most influential in your life? The handful of people who have helped to determine who you have become? The very people with whom you have felt most vitally connected over the course of your lifetime?