When it comes to explaining how to understand if the work you fill your cup or not, some life coaches refer to the following arrangement. They say that you need to enjoy 70% of it, while 30% of your work can give you a hard time. Keeping that ratio in check is a healthy sign that you are doing what you love.
It turns out that the same correlation applies to the true foundation of friendship. But it doesn’t mean that 70% of the time you spend with your friend brings you good vibes while 30% crush you to pieces. In the context of friendship, the 70:30 ratio distributes differently. Psychologists state that to form a close relationship you need to have 70% similarities and 30% differences. The fact that you don’t reflect 100% creates a safe space for future growth and your place in the world.
Now I wonder if it is possible to nurture your friendship and stay genuinely connected and interested in each other over the years? I always thought it was possible. Let’s take a closer look into my life to see if it is so.
My mum used to call me “racing sheep”. (I know it’s weird, so you can call me a greyhound). “Racing Sheep” was my childhood nickname. I got it because of my kids’ lifestyle. I was lucky to grow up in the internet-free era, so most of the days I spent in the backyard playing with my friends. From dawn to dusk we played hopscotch, catch me if you can, hide and seek. We staged theatre plays and performed mini-concerts for our parents and neighbours. That was the time when making friends and living life was easy.
Later at school, I entered a new phase. At the age of 13, I was riding the hormonal roller coaster. I went through the abrupt transition into being a young woman and opened myself up to the world of thrill. Suddenly my interest in biology, chemistry, physics, and anatomy surged rapidly as I wanted to learn more about how the opposites got attracted to each other. The brain blasted the fireworks when we talked about boys, kissing, and sex. Taboo topics make your school life more interesting and you need a partner in crime to discuss it all. This is what my best friend was for. Together we would study Cosmopolitan and would be on the phone for hours to discuss boys and “the way he stared at me…” But as soon as I developed my own secure-insecure ways of being popular among boys, I started to lose interest in our friendship. I realised that there is more to life than sharing dirty secrets with each other.
That was the time when I started to hang out more with boys. Eventually, I found my tribe – a street culture crew full of skateboarders, roller skaters, and BMX crew who wear DC shoes, Carhartt, and listen to ska-punk. One day while playing a hacky sack with my mates I met a girl called Kate. The air was definitely different when we met. It was electrified with laughter, good vibrations, and powerful chemistry. Besides she was 8 years older than me. It felt exciting and cool to have an older, more mature friend. We shared lots of happy memories together, crazy adventures, overseas trips, and deep conversations. But most of all we liked to reflect on how fucked up our lives and childhoods were. The pain and trauma that we both experienced was the glue that held our friendship together for a very long time.
In 2011 I moved to NZ and my whole life changed. I started seeing a therapist and looking at my trauma closely, understanding that I am my own rescue. As I embarked on my full-time healing journey and New Zealand life, the need of having a friend who is your therapist disappeared. I just wanted to have a friend who will make me smile. After a while, I started to notice that our friendship makes me feel heavy and guilty. The more I stripped down the layers of programming and conditioning, the further Kate and I grew apart.
It has been 9 and a half years since I live in New Zealand. Most of this time I’ve had the dearest friend Katherine Brook by my side. Our friendship is made of 70% similarities and 30% of differences. Sometimes we get hooked on each other’s company so much that we reach 100%. That level of intimacy leads to wild moments of rapture or a very passionate disagreement. Next time when you hear about the volcanic eruption in Auckland, feel free to blame us, as we might have caused it.
We can write a book full of adventures as we went through so much together. But recently our beautiful photographer friend Tanya Perova suggested capturing the pure moments of our friendship on camera and film. We haven’t published the book yet, but at least we have these photo memories that speak louder than words.
Given the time and deep friendships I had in my life, I really wonder how you can recognise the nature of the real connection? What are the main functions of true friendship?
True friendship expands your sense of self.
While learning about the world together and sharing personal stories, we overcome the existential crisis and come to an understanding that we are a part of something bigger. Good friendship helps us to understand who we truly are. It questions our daily choices or behavioural patterns that approach us towards true essence.
Katherine and I met 8 years ago but our friendship vibe is still alive. Telling stories from the past, learning from today’s lessons we continue to enrich each other’s lives. Sharing ordinary and extraordinary moments we help each other grow despite pain and fear we can feel. Moving away from codependency we both know that in critical times we can 100% rely on each other.
Real friendship vibrates on healthy energy exchange. Friendship is not a game, isn’t manipulation or strategy. It isn’t based on the principle what will you do if I do this to you? A good friendship is smooth like peanut butter on the toast. And for some reason your toast gets burnt, you can easily dissolve that frustration with a good joke. Nothing else in the world but a similar sense of humour could set two souls on fire.
Quality vs quantity
You want to hug the whole world when you hang out with your bestie. You have a like-minded person who makes you want to love this life even more. All sorts of weird, random, and great experiences shape the smiley face of our friendship. You test the limits and try new things, like the Silent Disco Citywalk. Some things you try make you tick, while others can make you sick. I still remember that unfortunate present that I gave to Katherine last year. I wanted to do something thrilling for her 30th! So I got us tickets to fly on catapult aka Sky Screamer. I thought she’d love that, but her reaction was the opposite. It proves that we are still very different. So the friendship ratio of 70:30 is still alive. It is a good thing.
Space to breathe
Good friendship comes with bellies full of laughter, extra kg of happy memories. However, there is one rule that we follow. Let each other have its own space. This comes in handy when you travel or spending waayyyy too much time together. Take some time apart and enjoy things that you like doing on your own. Giving each other space is healthy. First, it refers to how good you are at keeping personal boundaries. And secondly, when you don’t allow space to breathe, it says a lot about your codependency issues that I used to be so involved in my past.
Give each other space and feel how nice it is to reconnect after the day you spent apart. Share adventures with your friend and see where it takes you. As for Katherine and me, it takes us to different places, but more often we find ourselves giggling in bed and playing with Snapchat filters, by coming up with various comic sketches and impersonations. Fun times!
Psychologists say that friendship is essential for personal development, emotional and mental wellbeing. I agree. Do you? Standing in front of the mirror that you find in friends’ eyes, reflecting all the goodness and madness, insecurities, and dreams that come with it, help us rediscover oneself, connect to life’s purpose and human essence.
And now let’s discuss it further.
Feel free to use the following question to share your story in the comment below or email us to firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have a best friend now? What do you value the most in your friendship?
Are you good at distinguishing a true friend from fake? If yes, what are the factors? signs?
And finally, when the friendship reaches the expiry date, how hard or easy is it for you to let go of that person? Why is it hard?
We can’t wait to hear from you. If you find this story useful or insightful, feel free to share it away.