We've been through a lot together, the death of a grandfather for each of us, multiple moves to different provinces, crises of faith, and so many good times. Ah good times.
You may know Tyler and me personally, and are smiling as you think of when you've shared some of these good times too. Maybe you don't know us though, and maybe you haven't experienced many good times yourself. Maybe having your own friend for 16 years, and counting, sounds like a dream to you. Some of you may have not even been alive for 16 years yet. Whatever scenario you find yourself in, Tyler and I are going to offer some thoughts and suggestions from our experiences, so here we go!
To Have Friends, You Have to Be One.
Ironically I probably haven't seen Luke in at least 12 years, and that's an entirely different story, but Tyler and I have stayed strong friends, and grow in that friendship daily. The lesson here is, if you want a friend, go be one. In a realistic social context, find someone who looks like they could use a friend, and ask them to do something with you. And let's face it, everyone needs a friend, God designed us for community.
Stay In Touch. Distance is only a problem if you make it one.
We've discovered it's a small world, to borrow a cliché. Distance isn't so huge when you make an effort.
Tyler and I would write emails, call each other on the phone, and eventually write texts and do video calls to each other regularly. This kept the lines of communication open, and honestly I think our friendship has grown more in the time he's been away, than it had when he was still here in Ontario. There are many free and easy ways to stay in touch, use them, and use them regularly. If your friendships matters to you, put that effort in, it's worth it.
Inside Jokes Carry Memories Forward.
Most of this section so far probably sounds like nonsense to the average reader, but it was using an inside joke that mostly only Tyler and I understand. Remember those jokes between you and your buddies, they can do more for bonding than you know, dude.
Common interests help.
But You Don't Have to Have Common Interests.
Different Opinions Are What Keeps You Together, not What Divides You.
Audio people, what happens when you have two exact copies of a sound at the same time? It just sound the same, except louder and more distorted. Have you ever heard a “duet” where both people sing the exact same melody? It sounds pretty dull at best. But have you heard two singers harmonize? The beauty of that sound is unrivalled in music. It's the same with friends. You want those differences. If you don't, then you have to admit that you really don't want friends, you want clones, and then I think you and God need to have a discussion about your pride.
Tyler and I have never had an argument. Never. Not in 16 years. And Lord willing we won't ever have one, ha ha! I think this is largely because we hold the same core principles and beliefs, and for anything past that which is different, we respect it with a curiosity. I have never found his preferences bad, just different, and interesting. I think this goes a long way. When you are invested in knowing the person, and you know you are safe within the common core principles, you are eager to learn about their differences from your opinions and preferences. Knowing they have these differences makes for a more interesting friendship and gives you assurance they will be able to give you a second perspective on something you ask them about, instead of them just parroting your views. Now, Tyler and I do agree on most things, so we echo each others views in many things, but it's that margin of difference that makes all the difference, pun fully intended.
Does my opinion on a specific issue matter?
Ultimately not everything that matters to me needs to matter to other people, and that's a-OK. To be clear, I'm not talking about absolute truths about God, I'm talking about when I overstate my opinions on processed cheese, or fringe political matters, or my disliking raisins. I can dislike raisins, I can have a preference, that's how it works. But so can everyone else. In a strong friendship, like Tyler's and mine, I can be OK with him not having the same preferences as me, and I don't have to try and validate my preferences by trying to make him have the same preferences. We can both be comfortable with each others preferences on side issues, without having to make each other agree.
Put the Other Person first.
Realize that you won't always be overly excited to see your friend, and that's not the goal either. Don't Fake a Smile.
Being excited to see that person sounds ideal, but what is even better is being able to fit with that person so well you feel like they just fit in your space without disturbing the flow (just enhancing it). Tyler and I certainly are excited when we get to hang out, but it's a more of a calm, mature, excitement, which shows itself in different ways. Most of all, we've become a part of each others space in such a natural way, that nothing feels like it changes in our environment when either of us enters into it. Despite being hard to describe, this phenomenon is a rare, but a very good thing in a friendship.
Say It Enough.
Tyler, you saw this coming.
How man of you have a buddy like this?