Building Successful Relationships: On the Importance of Genuine Friendship

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus


Ted had become so involved with his work and family that he never made an effort to get together with his two best friends from high school and college days. He missed the closeness he had with them and felt a sense of loss in his life.


“Friendship,” goes an old saying, “is the best gift you can give yourself.” Having one or two authentic friends adds a dimension to life that enhances emotional and spiritual well-being.

It seems to us that many people try to fill the need for friendship by having lots of acquaintances. But there are some important differences between being friendly with someone and having a genuine friend.

There’s nothing wrong with having acquaintances, of course people with whom you play tennis, go bowling, play cards, go out to eat, and so forth. But someone who says, “I have dozens of good friends,” does not truly understand friendship! Real friendship is both a qualitative and a quantitative involvement. Our capacity for true intimacy is limited, so one cannot have a large number of genuine friends or there will not be enough emotional nourishment to sustain the relationships.

• A certain amount of time must be invested into the relationship as well, since one key element of friendship is doing several mutually enjoyable things together.

Friends have to be cultivated and friendship requires time and sincere effort. It also calls for risk-taking. You might want someone to be your friend, but he or she may not feel the same way about you.

• Deep friendship is based on the development of love, and follows the rules of all intimate relationships.

Women are often much better at fostering close friendships than men. Women share confidences and discuss their feelings — two necessary ingredients of friendship. Guys “hang out” with one another and tend to talk about things rather than emotions. Men are often inclined to try to have all their friendship needs met by their wives, often placing a burden on the marriage. Indeed, some people regard a good marriage as the ultimate friendship, and it may be, but we all need good, close, caring camaraderie aside from marriage.

The most fortunate people are those who are happy in a rewarding marriage or other committed relationship and, in addition, have one or two good friends.

True friendship, like all intimate relationships, is based on similar values, sharing, caring, trust, respect, consideration, and balanced give and take without competing or “keeping score.”

• Anyone who can honestly say that he or she has two or three authentic friends is very wealthy in the emotional economy.

Ralph Waldo Emerson offered this advice to those who would have genuine friends: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”


Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist, Co-founder and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology.

Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar.  Seen here are excerpts from one of his books, The 60-Second Shrink – 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World, a book, he co-authored with his father “One of the ten most influential psychotherapists in America”  Arnold A. Lazarus, Ph.D.  For more details on Dr. Clifford Lazarus visit this link to The Lazarus Institute.  Or visit his page here on

Books available at Amazon by Arnold and Clifford Lazarus

Direct links to two highly recommended books by Dr. Clifford Lazarus and Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus:

The 60-Second Shrink: 101 Strategies for Staying Sane in a Crazy World 

Don’t Believe It for a Minute!: Forty Toxic Ideas That Are Driving You Crazy

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