Column: The value of friendship

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Commentary by Lorene Burkhart

Have you ever observed young children at preschool when, as soon as they arrive, they begin looking for a friend? It’s one of the early words in their vocabulary.

Friendship is considered to be a core biological necessity, providing the link to our need to belong. We join clubs, small groups, sororities and fraternities, and make connections online to find a place to belong.

The word friend is described as a person with whom one enjoys mutual affection and regard. In her book “Love 2.O: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection,” Barbara Frederickson writes that three things happen when you connect with another person: A sharing of positive emotions, a synchronizing of brain activity known as “natural coupling” and a reflected interest in each other’s well-being.

Another author on friendship, Lydia Denworth, says that it takes 40 to 60 hours to move from an acquaintance to a casual friend, 80 to 100 hours to become a friend and 200 hours to earn consideration as a best friend.

There, indeed, is the value of friendship, when another person invests that much time to become your friend.

I remember having a boss who once said to me, “How many friends do you have that would rescue you from a burning building?” Well, that’s a little extreme, but you get the idea. Friends go the extra mile for each other. It’s one of the treasures in life.

I marvel at the ability of new residents at our retirement community to move from their lifelong friends to be near an adult child or other relative, recognizing their need for extra care as they age. Oftentimes, their friends are the same age and also in need of more than friendship. Fortunately, they make new friends in their new community who fill the friendship need.

Lucky are we if we have one of those treasures: a true friend.


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