Phillip Lopate on Friendship

When I think about the qualities that characterize the best friendships I’ve known, I can identify five: rapport, affection, need, habit, and forgiveness.

Rapport and affection can only take you so far; they may leave you at the formal, outer gate of goodwill, which is still not friendship.

A persistent need for the other’s company, for their interest, approval, opinion, will get you inside the gates, especially when it is reciprocated.

In the end, however, there are no substitutes for habit and forgiveness.

A friendship may travel for years on cozy habit. But it is a melancholy fact that unless you are a saint you are bound to offend every friend deeply at least once in the course of time.

The friends I have kept the longest are those who forgave me for wronging them, unintentionally, intentionally, or by the plain catastrophe of my personality, time and again.

There can be no friendship without forgiveness.

~ Phillip Lopate

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