Celebrating philia: the love of friends

The Greeks had four different terms to describe love in all its manifestations. As we wrap up our celebration of love here at GenTwenty, I want to focus on “philia,” a feeling writer Roman Krznaric defined as, “…showing loyalty to your friends, sacrificing for them, as well as sharing your emotions with them.”

I do not run in a very big circle, but my closest friends are good for my soul for so many reasons. Each relationship is unique, and there are some key things that make my best friends my best friends.

The keeper of dark secrets – One of my friends in particular is the keeper of my darkest secrets. If there is debauchery, shame, and outright ridiculousness involved, I can share these stories with her completely free of guilt or judgment (sometimes with encouragement to proceed with said debauchery, shame, and ridiculousness). That is not to say that we never disagree on issues, but it is invaluable to have friends who will love you regardless of how bad you have been.

The one who will be weird with me – I can have some pretty quirky thoughts, and if I come up with something absurd while showering, or I stumble upon something that inspires some out there ideas, I’ve got a friend I can share them with. She entertains the crazy things I throw her way, and embraces all my random behavior. I never have to explain why; she just takes it as it is.

The guy friend – Everyone should have a good friend of the opposite sex simply for well-rounded perspective. I find that my guy friend is the one most likely to give me raw advice devoid of excess emotion, and sometimes that is exactly what I need. He listens to what I say, processes it and gives me logical feedback based on who he knows I am instead of what he would do or what he thinks I should do.

The voice of reason – Much like a friend of the opposite sex, everyone should have a friend who is the voice of reason. When I am on the brink of doing something I know I should not do, I have a friend I can call. Her moral fabric is a little more tightly woven than mine, a factor that gives us a checks and balances kind of relationship. More often than not, she will confirm that I am about to make a bad decision, but never in a preachy way. Sometimes you need to hear what you already know, and the voice of reason can reel you back in when you stray too far from your core.

The ones who never give up – I have a bad habit of occasionally disappearing from the social grid without explanation. It’s not that I do not want to talk to a particular person; I just go through moments where I do not want to talk or text or be socially engaged at all, with anyone. Despite this fact, my best friends never give up on me. They pick up the phone when I finally call or text, and they do not chew me out about my vanishing act. Instead, they are glad I finally resurfaced, and we pick up wherever we left off. In an article from The House of Hendrix called “35 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Girlfriends,” Allison Hendrix says, “A lack of phone contact should not breed insecurity, just an excitement for when you finally do connect. Pick up where you left off, no guilt or hesitation. Life is hard and we all know it. Grace should be given freely.” I’m grateful that my friends are never stingy with the gift of mercy.

My friends come in many varieties as friends often do, but I love them all dearly. Celebrate philia with GenTwenty, and let us know what makes your friendships special.