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Mom with a View


Unfortunately, a good friend is a rarity.


In 1985 the average American had three people in whom to confide matters of importance. According to a 2006 study, that number as dropped to two (and presumably does not include radio talk show hosts!). Additionally more than 25% of Americans admit they have no confidant at all.

While many Americans do enlist the help of professionals as a safe place to entrust their problems, this is not what I understand to be meant by a confidant, and certainly not what it means to have a friend.

A friend is someone who has your back, who takes your needs seriously, who rejoices in your joys and mourns in your sorrows. And this type of friendship is actually quite rare.

Someone recently invited my husband out to lunch. “I like what you said at that meeting and I look forward to getting to know you and your ideas better.” This seemed like an auspicious beginning to a new relationship. But relationship turned out to be the wrong word. As soon as they sat down to eat, his host began to speak and didn’t stop until my husband finally excused himself -- two hours later! This is actually not such a unique experience.

Many people briefly feign interest in others as a way to get an ear to listen to them. That’s okay. It’s wonderful to be a good listener. It is kind and caring. It just doesn’t create a real friendship; there is no mutual interest and concern.

It’s not easy to find others who care about you as much as you care about them, who take your ideas, your challenges, your concerns (almost) as seriously as they do their own. It’s not easy but when it happens it can be so rewarding.

We are taught that a good friend carries the burden with you; he or she empathizes. I think it’s even more. The caring and compassion of a good friend eases the burden, takes a weight off our shoulders. They lift the pain away from us through the power of their love and concern. Because they identify so strongly with us, the pain becomes their own, it is shared and thereby diminished.

If we are lucky enough to have this type of friend, we should be grateful; it’s rare indeed. True friendship is life-changing. It helps us find the power and will to cope -- and sometimes steers us away from negative choices or destructive behaviors. A good friend reminds us of our inner strength and encourages us to make full use of it.

Studies even document that those of us with good friends remain physically healthy longer. I think it’s because they help carry the aforementioned “burden,” because we know we’re not alone.

Of course, if we stop and realize it, we’re never alone; we never have to carry that burden by ourselves. The Almighty is always there for us, He’s not distracted by His own needs or concerns, He carries not just our burden; He carries us as well. We just have to make Him our friend.

June 26, 2010

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 8

(8) Sarah, July 4, 2010 7:46 PM

my kids are always asking me who my best friend is, and I tell them, it is my husband. However, this does not satisfy them, they want a best girl friend. It actually saddens me a lot to know I don't anymore have one best friend, I used to when I was young, and those ties still remain strong. But I think once you are married, you can no longer share all your innermost feelings with someone else, as those feelings are supposed to be shared with your husband alone. Somehow, passing them around to another, will dilute the closeness you will feel for your husband. Therefore, it is a by product of a good marriage IMHO to not have a true confidant apart from hubby. And i guess I have accepted it.

(7) Anonymous, July 1, 2010 7:12 PM

article hit home

I could sincerely relate to this article. My challenges in life are very apparent to the public. Im raising a handicapped child and I have experienced infertility while trying to build a family. When my so called "friends" heard my child was in special education many individuals abandoned me. Because I dont have a baby very often people are apprehensive about sharing their simchos. Isolation hurts! I think more so than the personal problems . Lori Palatnik spoke about friends and aquaintances. The true friends are those who are by your side through thick and thin. The others who cant deal with problems are merely aquaintances. You can catch that on her blog.

(6) Nenette Grunberg, June 30, 2010 6:24 PM

A confident? A rare to none specie.

Being 81 years old I have learned over all these years that confidents only exist when you are very young before the teen years .Of all the few people that I consider old friends ,only one sticks out as my confident and vis versa . i still prefer going to a shrink to open my heart

(5) Anonymous, June 30, 2010 5:38 AM

important topic

Thanks for the article. I like probably many suffer from this issue as well. Trying to find people to confide and yet having them as a friend and not just an ear to listen. It is important to have someone to listen to you but it is important that that person is someone you can hang with and share a good time with. If anyone has any suggestions on how to go about this I would love to here. Thanks and again great article.

(4) Anonymous, June 29, 2010 9:56 PM

What if the "best friend" is your past girlfriend/potential wife and are now in a new shidduch?

I think there are multiple levels of "best friend". There is no question that our "best friends" are the microcosm of the macro of our relationship to Hashem. We are not meant to be individuated..alone. We are meant to be connected. Where do we draw the line, though, where intimacy(not sexual) is shared among 2 women? One the friend(past shidduch that didn't work out), and one the present shidduch/wife potential. Triangulated enmeshment sounding to me! What do you think? It is not like one wants to tell someone what to do or who to be friends with. Quite a dilema.

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