What does it take to make a best friend? Obviously, there's no formula. Each of us might be looking for different characteristics in a friend, whether it be someone who likes the same things we like, shares our ideals, or is completely unlike us in some way we find attractive. Despite the infinite complexity of friendships, however, there are a few things that everyone needs to look for when making, breaking, or building them.
No matter who you are, if you want to be comfortable in your relationships, you need friends that you can trust. You need friends who love you for who you are, and around whom you can act natural.
There's this one guy I know at school who perfectly exemplifies a "comfortable friend." We have some things in common, such as our love of music and our shared sense of humor, but other than that we are quite different. Even so, the differences don't matter, because any time we get together we both feel completely at ease. I trust him not to hurt me. I can be myself, he can be himself, and we can bond over our few, strong similarities.
Why it is that I feel more comfortable around him than I do with some of my closest friends? It is not because our personalities just click better. Neither is it because we were twins in a past life. Rather, it is because there is no growth in our relationship. It is comfortable, but it is stagnant. He loves me for who I am, but not for who I am becoming.
There is nothing wrong with relationships like this, but they don't usually last long. My friend and I still love each other for who we are, but neither of us has much interest in the other's future. Therefore, unless something in the friendship changes, we will both grow out of it and go our separate ways.
In the book "Safe People: How To Find Relationships That Are Good For You And Avoid Those That Aren't", Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend list the three things that safe relationships do:
1. They draw us closer to God.
2. They draw us closer to others.
3. They help us become the real person God created us to be.
If you must, take God out of the picture, but this list still shows some critical things about healthy relationships.
Not only do safe people love us and allow us to be ourselves, but they draw us out of ourselves. They encourage us to be vulnerable, which is important because it is decidedly not comfortable, but it is absolutely necessary to the deepening of any relationship.
No matter who you are, if you want to find true friendship, you need friends that you can trust, not only to be kind but to keep you accountable. You need friends who love you for who you are and for who you are becoming. Lastly, you need friends around whom you can act natural and vulnerable.
Don't sacrifice growth-centered relationships just because stagnant ones are more comfortable. In the end, the comfort is far outweighed by the stability and love of a relationship forged in the fires of accountability, vulnerability, and change.