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On friendship

Friendship is hard to come by in the real world. Yes. I've said it. Before you wonder whether I'm making epigrammatic statements just for sheer impact, let us concur upon an agreeable definition for friendship. What is friendship? 'A friend in need is a friend indeed' is one of those irritating sayings that everyone parrots without understanding or even trying to understand the theme or connotation behind it. Adding that fact to the already limited scope of the aforementioned homily and one has a very big misconception about the entire concept of 'friendship' in general and 'friends' in particular.

Let my essay now take the form of a dialogue for the sake of ease of comprehension and brevity:


Q: Someone whom I meet everyday and work/study with?
A: No, that is a colleague.

Q: Someone whose number I possess and contact for information. I may chit-chat with and greet them when I come across them, depending upon the time and circumstances of the meeting.
A: No, that is an acquaintance.

Q: Someone with whom you share your secrets or feelings?
A: No. That is a confidante.

Q: Someone who guides you when you're going astray and pulls you back?
A: No. That is a mentor.

Q: Then who is a friend?
A: Glad you asked. Let me begin...

A friend must have the following characteristics to be truly called a 'friend':

1) Equality:

There can be no friendship without equality, for all relationships are essentially exchanges. Everything in the world is essentially a question of give and take. Everything. For every action needs a motive, every thought needs a reason. Thus does every rational being do, to have, give to receive, be to get. Equality is the first condition for true friendship because only in this case can one give and expect to receive the same amount. Only in this case will the exchange be complete, with neither set above the other, a truly equal relationship. Let equality not be confused with similarity, a scientist can be friends with an artist, a philosopher with a trader and so on, if both are equal in ability. Not in similarity or direction of their ability, merely the degree needs to be of an equal level. Mutual benefit.

2) Understanding:

This is perhaps the hardest to find in the real world. A relationship needs a high degree of understanding to be a friendship. Understanding is only possible when there is knowledge. It is a human tendency to fear the unknown, death and night as the central horror themes being proof of this fact. Hence understanding can only exist in the presence of knowledge. One can love only when one understands. As humans, we are bred to fear and loathe the unknown and love the familiar, hence the more developed among us undertake assignments to know and understand as much as possible, as soon as possible so that they have a higher degree of comfort in their existence. Since one can love only when one understands, when one knows, it follows logically that the truly logical being should love him/her self, because of the concrete fact that one cannot ever expect to know anyone or anything to a greater, more minute or to a more intimate extent than: themselves. Hence one can love oneself the most because one understands oneself the best.

True understanding is rare and takes years to develop. In a friend, one needs both parties to possess a deep understanding of themselves so that they can most easily identify their abilities and complements, namely: what they can give and what they require of the other person. One should also have the necessary abilities in the particular directions needed to completely understand the other. If this understanding is present, then the second step towards friendship is underway.

3) Presence and Need:

How often do close friendships fade away because of loss of contact? It is a very common and mundane phenomenon. One doesn't feel the need to contact, hence the desire to do so gradually diminishes due to the fact that humans are essentially selfish creatures, evolutionarily shaped to be driven towards survival and thus driven by needs and requirements rather than wants. Presence in itself doesn't create or supersede a need. Presence creates a situation in which  unrelated needs may be satisfied in some way through contact, that otherwise could and would have been resolved very differently. Hence presence leads to an artificial 'need' and thereby serves it's purpose in the growth and sustenance of the relationship.

           Going by the three main points listed above, one would expect the reader to have grasped what seems to be a very obvious and gaping loophole in this concept of 'friendship', namely that the existence of these 'essential' points seem to imply that perhaps the concept of friendship is not suited for every type of person. Sadly, this seems to be so. Many people extinguish their lifespans without having had or being a friend in the true sense. Unfortunately for these hapless and deluded individuals, these three qualities and the realization and implementation of the primal ideals outlined by the said points are the basic elements of an essentially rational human existence. Thus, most of the people stumble through what they believe to be their 'life', have in essence, never truly existed.


  1. Nice article. I can see how you preserved its emotional importance in a technical analysis.

    Hmm, so finally you know what a friend is. Quite evident from the fact that its been a long while that you loosely used the term "friend" for someone you spent minutes sharing a cigarette.


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