Everyone has a number of acquaintances, but no one has many friends. For true intimate friendship is not common, and there are many people who seem to be incapable of it. For a friendship to be intimate and lasting. both the friends must have some very special qualities.
First comes unselfish love, which is the very essence of friendship. A man who is engrossed in his own interests and feelings, may, no doubt, like to have an unselfish friend who will admire him, serve him, and always study his interests. But friendship is a two-sided affair, and lives by give-and-take, and no friendship can last long which is all give on one side and all take on the other. A selfish person is incapable of true friendship. The love and service must be mutual.
Constancy is another important condition of friendship. But some people are constitutionally fickle. They take up an interest with enthusiasm, but they soon tire of it and feel the attraction of some new object. Such changeable and uncertain people are constitutionally incapable of a lifelong friendship with anyone.
Two friends must be loyal to each other, and they must know each other so well that there can be no suspicions between them. We do not think much of a man that dares not stand up for his friend when he is criticized behind his back; nor of the man who readily believes rumour and gossip against his friend. Suspicious natures, and those who are easily influenced by reports and whispers, can never make good friends.
There must be implicit confidence between friends so that each can feel that he can tell the other his most intimate secrets without any fear of his being misunderstood or betrayed. But there are talkative and communicative people, who cannot keep a secret, either their own or those of others, to save their lives; and such will never keep a friend long.
Lastly, there must be perfect sympathy between friend’s sympathy with each other’s aims, likes, joys, sorrows, pursuits and pleasures. And where such mutual sympathy does not exist, friendship is impossible.
The fact is “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”