As those of you that have been on the mailing list for a long time are aware of, I will often deviate from the healthcare themed topics from time to time and go a little out in left field to discuss something a little different (but no less pertinent). Nine times out of ten, these deviations from the norm are prompted by events that I either personally experience or see someone else close to me experiencing. So, today is going to be one of those days. Today, I want to discuss friendship. No, it isn't a healthcare topic, but let's make sure that the underlying message of strong friendships being a very healthy thing is not lost.

Friendships are like platonic marriages. It may not have the romanticism of a marriage, but they inherently require many of the same characteristics necessary to build and sustain them. You start off with a feeling out process in an effort to discover compatible interests, desired personality traits, and the like. There's a period where you hang out and see if you enjoy the others company. If you do, the friendship continues. If you don't, then that's that. The next phase involves the development of some if not all of the following: sympathy, fun, understanding, honesty, laughter, and compassion. Sound familiar?

A lot of the same qualities in a good friend are the same qualities we look for in a spouse. And much like your relationship with your spouse or significant other...once you have that friendship, you have to work to maintain it. At the heart of that effort is communication, which is unquestionably a recurring theme throughout every part of life (be it verbal communication between people or electrical communication through the nerve system). Communication is the key to sustaining friendships. Otherwise, you will grow apart and it will fizzle out.

If any of you have ever moved a great distance from your friends, you know how difficult it can be to keep up with people. It takes some pretty significant effort on everyone's part. It has been a part of the story of my life - by moving around quite a bit - to keep that ever important line of communication open with friends from various different areas. It's difficult. A lack of communication and effort can put a strain on a friendship and knock it down several notches from where it once may have been.

Occasionally, the lines of communication break down. That's inevitable. It is in those instances that friendships are tested. But don't forget those underlying themes of friendship - sympathy, understanding, honesty, and compassion. Those themes are what laid the foundation for the relationship in the first place. With the groundwork already laid, all you must do is communicate and you can build a friendship back up to where it once was...

Friendships are a very healthy thing...

Thinking good things for you, as always,

Dr. Chad