What does a “close friend” mean for you?

January 7, 2016 3:55 pm

friendship_all_over_the_world

If you check some definitions the term “close friend” can be defined as somebody who you can talk about everything with, who makes you feel comfortable without fear of judgment. A “close friend” can also be someone who is always there for you, caring about your well-being.

The concept “friendship” has a special significance in the whole society around the world and probably everybody has a best friend in his life. This term, which has been studied in academic fields such as sociology, social psychology, anthropology and philosophy, describes a “relationship of mutual affection between two or more people”. In fact, one of the most interesting conclusions obtained from a World Happiness Database study, found that people with “close friendships” are happier.

But… Do these two nice words mean the same for everybody, in each country, language and culture? The same word is used every time but not with the same meaning. Why? The different ways of understanding the term “friend” is connected with the costumes, priorities and people’s lifestyle.

Being a close or best friend means a lot in some places like Europe, India, China, Canada or Mexico. Friendship means so much more in cities of these continents, even if they are located far from each other on the map. “A trusted person you treat like family”. “Somebody you can be open with and relate to on personal issues”. And “someone you don’t need to invite home because he or she is at any time allow into your house”. These are all good definitions for “close friend” in countries where friendship is well respected and lived intensely.

In contrast, people use to have a different perception of the words “friend” or “close friends” depending on their priorities and different standards of living. For example, the behaviour tends to be particularly shallow in some states of the USA, where most of the time relationships and friendships are established exclusively on Facebook. It is on this platform where people talk each other and share comments and experiences. In addition, they normally have a lot of calendar appointments and full agendas with several meetings to discuss business issues. In short, they mainly relate to each other in this space and environment.

The truth is that the term “friendship” has had different approaches over time based on cultural variations. Here are just some examples: In Central Asia “male friendships tend to be reserved and respectful in nature”. Germans typically have “relatively few friends, although their friendships typically last a lifetime, as loyalty is held in high regard”. In Islamic friendship is also known as companionship or ashab. The concept is taken seriously and numerous important attributes of a worthwhile friend have emerged in Islamic media, such as the notion of a righteous (or saalih) person. Additionally, it is believed that in some parts of the Middle East (or Near East) friendship is more demanding when compared with other cultures.

The conclusion is that you can have friends everywhere but the relationship probably won’t be always the same. The reason is that being a close friend means different depending on the city.

The kind of friendship that we establish is directly connected with our lifestyle. That why we use the term “close friend” to refer to the kinds of relationships in different parts of the world. Anyway, although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of friendship, such as sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion and trust.

While there is many ways of making friends and there is no practical limits on what types of people can form a friendship, friends generally tend to share common backgrounds, occupations, or interests, and have similar demographics.

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By Lidia Capitan Zamora. Journalist, web editor and social media expert

Communication Trainee at TermCoord

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