Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

Why A Friendship Is Unique When There’s No Need To Explain

When our friendships are authentic they add countless benefits to our lives. True friends encourage and support us. They challenge us to do and be our best. They motivate and cheer us on during good days and bad. They understand our frailties. They listen with open, non-judgmental hearts and add great joy to our lives. There is mutual trust between good friends.

“The most memorable people in life will be friends
who loved you when you weren’t very lovable.”

In .49 seconds Google revealed there are 287,000,000 results for the word “friendship” and in .51 seconds I learned there were 5,250,000 results for the term “finding your tribe.”


Despite those incredible numbers I’ve added several of my own posts about friendships and tribes. Why? Because as we get older friendships play a pivotal role in our lives. Something we once took for granted in childhood (wasn’t it easy to make friends in the classroom, on the playground or around the neighborhood?) takes on a whole new meaning in midlife.

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart
and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”~Donna Roberts

friendshipThis weekend I had the good fortune to get together with a group of women I’ve known for several years. Our common bond is that we’ve all been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I feel at ease with these incredible ladies, and not only because we live with MS but also because we support and encourage one another unconditionally.

There’s no need for explanations, no repercussions for being forgetful, and no fear of seeming aloof because of overwhelming fatigue.

We know what the other person is going through, and although MS has not manifested itself identically in any of us, we still understand.

There’s something unique and special about that.

There’s a wonderful article in The Atlantic titled “How Friendships Change in Adulthood” by Julie Beck in which the author details how friendships are tenuous over the course of a lifetime. Partners, children and parents are all relationships that fare better than friendships because we must tend to them. Friends are what we choose for ourselves, and while the best ones provide us with happiness they are often neglected because of the busyness of life.

Beck said that, according to William Rawlins, the Stocker Professor of Interpersonal Communication at Ohio University, people of all ages are generally looking for a friend who is:

“Somebody to talk to, someone to depend on, and someone to enjoy. These expectations remain the same, but the circumstances under which they’re accomplished change.”

The article sums it up by saying, “Friendship is a relationship with no strings attached except the ones you choose to tie, one that’s just about being there, as best as you can.”

What we value most in friendship is different for everyone.  As we age and begin to live with physical and emotional ailments our definition of friendship begins to change. That’s when we need to open the door to our hearts a little bit more. Not every scar is visible to the naked eye.

“To have a friend and be a friend is
what makes life worthwhile.” ~Unknown

33 thoughts on “Why A Friendship Is Unique When There’s No Need To Explain

  1. Kit Minden

    MS can isolate us from our friends when we lose the ability to easily go out and enjoy each other. We are so fortunate to have the internet and social media to give us ways to connect anyway.

  2. WendysHat

    Thanks! I love this! I’ve always had a real soft spot and genuine intrigue over friendships. It’s wonderful to have people who you can just simply BE with and that’s enough. I also love how you can not see or hear from a genuine friend for many years and in an instant be exactly where you left off from! Thanks for being one of my new friends that I feel connected with through the internet and hugging once at a conference.
    WendysHat recently posted…How To Frost Spider Sugar CookiesMy Profile

  3. Elana Centor

    Recently, a good friend moved to a new community. About a week later, I was chatting with her and she mentioned she was going to take a walk with a new friend. It actually sounded weird to me because I don’t use the term “friend” very lightly. For me, its a term that I use for a very select group of people- I am still friends with my college roommates. I have friends that I have met through work and I have wide range of people that I enjoy spending time with, taking walks, book club, Mah Jong but they are people I am friendly with, not my inner circle friends. I wish there was another word other than acquaintances to describe that wonderful group of people who you have fun with, enjoy going to dinner with but probably who you don’t necessarily want to spill your guts to.
    Elana Centor recently posted…Saying a 60 Year Old Women Looks Great For Her Age Is NOT a ComplimentMy Profile

  4. Barbara Hammond

    Having moved so frequently throughout my life it wasn’t always easy making and keeping friends, but the ones who stayed connected, even when we moved away, will always be closest in my heart.
    I’m still in the process of making new friends in our new hometown, and the older we get the more difficult it becomes. Always worth the challenge, though.
    Barbara Hammond recently posted…October is for NestingMy Profile

    1. Post author

      Yes, it’s definitely worth the challenge, Barbara. My husband and I agree that wherever we move it must be in a community that has a lot going on in order to make it easier to meet new people. I am sure you will meet some wonderful people wherever you are, Barbara.

  5. Christine DePalma-Cunningham

    Great piece! I have also made a group of MS friends and it never ceases to amaze me at how close we became so quickly. I guess we realize how tenuous life can be

  6. Stephanie Weaver, MPH

    Love this Cathy. I recently had dinner with two different roommates from 30ish years ago. Even though I hadn’t seen either of them in many years, it was amazing to pick up right where we left off. You can’t replace people like that in your life, people who knew you when you were in your twenties. And it’s also incredible to make friends later in life, like you, and have that bond. Sending love and hugs from San Diego.
    Stephanie Weaver, MPH recently posted…Pumpkin apple spice pulled pork with sweet potatoesMy Profile

    1. Post author

      Exactly, Stephanie. I recently had dinner with a friend who was the first person I met in the town we moved to. It felt like we continued a conversation from the one we had years ago.

      How wonderful for you to have such marvelous friends in your life! I’ll take the love and hugs from SD. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Post author

      Yes, I completely understand now too. I also remember visiting my husband’s grandmother in Florida who, at 100, complained she had no friends left to visit her. I felt so sad for this wonderful lady. I know what your dad meant. Big sigh for him and big hugs to you, Haralee, my sweet online friend.

  7. KymberlyFUnFit

    So true. I just met 4 women who have been friends and close neighbors for 57 years. They are vacationing together, which really bespeaks their love for each other. Soooo amazing, heart warming, and inspirational. I asked if they’d ever fought and they said “no” though they have had differences of opinion.

    1. Post author

      That’s so beautiful and they are so blessed to have such an incredible bond!

      My 3 closest friends are identical twins who I’ve known for 46 years and my across-the-street neighbor I’ve known for 53 years. We love each other as your new friends do and we’ve have never fought either. We’re trying to figure out a way of getting together since we live in different parts of the county. Anyway, my point is that our good friends are one of life’s greatest gifts. That said, my online friendship with you and your sister holds a special place for me too!

      Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. Helene Cohen Bludman

    Diane Keaton’s awful rendition on The Oscars notwithstanding, I think of that childhood song, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” A good friend is truly a gift and the older we get the more we can appreciate that. Enjoyed this post, Cathy.

  9. Corinne Rodrigues

    I think the older we get, the harder we want to work on friendships. We seek the company of like-minded people who ‘get’ us. Your post made me think of that verse from Dinah Craik’s poem:
    Oh, the comfort—
    the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person—
    having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
    but pouring them all right out,
    just as they are,
    chaff and grain together;
    certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
    keep what is worth keeping,
    and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Wellness WarriorMy Profile

  10. Terri Webster Schrandt

    You are so right about friendships, Cathy, this is such a great post. While I am a friendly person, I have only a few close friends, and they have been my besties for over 30 years. Leisure activities bring the possibilities of friendships together too, as I have found with the windsurf gals I met 6 years ago. I also cherish the “friends”I have met on Facebook and in the blogosphere!
    Terri Webster Schrandt recently posted…Zombie Plants Attack!My Profile

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