The truest nature of friendship is a love-based foundation that meets emotional needs of both persons involved in the relationship. Sounds a lot like true love, but in friendship, romance, of a sort, is missing. There is something deeply romantic about friendship--in it's most perfect form--most of us would rather spend time fighting with and loving our friends than fussing about with a lover. Friendship isn't fickle in the same way that romantic love can be--there is something more honest about it, something more durable, a way that we honor and support our friends, that gets lost over time with our lovers. (That loss is certainly not a doomed requirement divined by the Fates, but one that we see time and time again in our modern world.)
That's what is so cool about very old, married couples--couples that have, over lifetimes, become true friends in addition to having romantic love. This is why we coo when we see old folks holding hands on the walking track at the gym or sharing a scone on a park bench under the cherry blossom trees. We know in those observed moments that romantic love churned through horrible and wonderful moments, passing through memories, making love and life gel, and over years to become a friendship like no other is built--it is not automatic. Can we have friends that last lifetimes? Can me make our lovers into true friends?
The answers are easy: of course we can (times two.) Like all things worth having, it takes work, compassion, intelligence, bravery, and of course, love to build a trusted companionship with a friend or lover.
I do not believe in unconditional love. True love, with friends or lovers, should have conditions. It's in those conditions that we become intimate, become more in love, become friends for life. We set our parameters and boundaries, and our friend respects and honors those conditions. And yes, rather obviously, a good friend will challenge us to push and move and alter our most limiting boundaries--but doing so respectfully is a minimum.
I know you, friend, and I love you just as you are. Knowing you that way, doesn't--not for one second--mean that I won't push you toward learning more about yourself, doesn't mean that I won't, from time-to-time pry you to undercover a new facet of your personality--we owe each other (the world) to help us grow into the people that we've always meant to be. It's a perfectly metered score--one where we balance our partner's shortcomings and accept mistakes and foibles--but without malice or deceit helping our friends to a better self. You know me too. That's the gist, right? My friends love me in all the ways that I love them. My friends know when I've had too much to drink, when I've been sad and withdrawn, when I've had too much in my life and need to break away, when I need to laugh, and so on. I trust my people. And they trust me.
I will grow old with my friends. We will check in on each other and take turns annoying and lifting each other up for the rest of our time here on Earth. I look forward to it.