Lifelong friends - Frank Salt
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Lifelong friends - Frank Salt

Whenever I have the opportunity of speaking to young people, who are thinking of getting married, I advise them that it is very important that they choose a partner who will be their lifelong friend.

Of course, they must have some kind of physical attraction, like their face, their voice, their laugh, their physique, but what lasts over the years is not the physical part of their attraction, but their character and their close friendship and love they bestow on one another.

A marriage should last a lifetime, and over the years things change, but what will not change, if a suitable partner is chosen, is the close bond of friendship, that is felt between the couple.

Simply put. Your partner should be your very best friend.

Now friends in life are so very important. It is not just the person, that you spend the majority of your married life with that’s important in our lives, it is also the people you have around you at the workplace and during the times when you are relaxing and enjoying yourself. 

Good friends also last a lifetime and they are necessary when you are young and growing up during school and adolescence, but also during your formative years and very much beyond.

Good friends, if chosen properly in the first place, should last a lifetime, and it is at the latter part of your life that you need and appreciate them most. 

Imagine at the latter part of your life, you are all alone with no one to fall back on and reminisce with. How sad. 

But that can all be avoided by acting sensibly, honestly and caringly, and accumulating select people around you with like minds and attitudes into a group of people that you can call true friends.

In order to gather good friends around you, not necessary all in the same group, you have to show them that you are worth being a friend to them. You are worth them giving you their trust and affection. Worth them giving you their friendship. Once you have achieved that, then you can relax and enjoy their company forever.

Friends should have at least one thing in common. For example, you must both like football. Or rambling. Or eating out. Or socialising together. These are just examples, but there are so many activities that people can share together.

What would a world be without true friends? I feel that it would be a very unpleasant and lonely place

Aristotle told us that there were three kinds of friendship.

1. Friendship of utility: exist between you and someone who is useful to you in some way. For instance, you’re friendly with your neighbour because they water your houseplants when you are on holiday, and you take care of their dog when they are away.

2. Friendship of pleasure: exist between you and those whose company you enjoy. These are people you do things with, and like a little chit chat or a good joke.

3. Friendship of the good: are based on mutual respect and admiration. These friendships take longer to build than the other two kinds ‒ but they are also more powerful and enduring. They often arise when two people recognise that they have similar values and goals: that they have similar visions for how their lives should be. They usually begin at childhood, though plenty form after that too.

In Malta, being such a small country, people do tend to make groups of friends much easier than if they lived in larger communities. The fact that Maltese are naturally friendly people also helps. 

But it is not the number of acquaintances that you have that is important, it is the number of true and genuine people that you can rely on as real friends.

To put it very simply, there are eight types of friends you need to have in your life.

A loyal best friend. An adventurous friend. A brutally honest confidant. A wise mentor. A friend from the same culture. A polar opposite. A friendly neighbour and a work pal.

I can’t imagine my life without having friends, that I can call on and know that they will do anything for me should I want, and I would do likewise for them. I have had people around me like that for as far as I can remember. It is a very good feeling.

A group of people were asked what qualities they think make a good friend. The replies were:

Someone who can trust and won’t judge you. Someone, who won’t deliberately hurt your feelings, but will show kindness and respect. Someone, who will love you not because they feel they have to, but because they choose to. 

Someone you can depend on, who is loyal and whose company you enjoy. Someone, who is there no matter what your situation is. Someone, who is trustworthy and not afraid to tell you the truth, no matter how hard it sometimes is. 

Someone, who can laugh when you laugh. Someone, who will cry with you when you cry. Someone, who makes you smile. Someone, who accepts you as you are and lends you an ear when you need to whine or complain. Someone, who will give you space to change.

What would a world be without true friends? I feel that it would be a very unpleasant and lonely place. That is why all of us should try to do everything we can to be friendly and honest with the people around us, and then benefit now and in the future from the results.

I wish you all to, at least, have one true friend, who overlooks your broken fence but admires the flowers in your garden.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece

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