I approach all my relationships the same way: I want to give all my trust and my whole self over. That's what friendship is. You throw yourself and hope you don't fall. I'm not sure how this philosophy was instigated. My parents maybe? My Mum was never guarded, what was hers was ours. She protected us by hiding the nastier facets of life, sure, but she was generally always honest and my parents included my sister and I in the family decisions from the moment we could talk. We four had no secrets - and we took the bad right along with the good. That's the pleasure of life: love and be loved.
The thing is, I think this approach is outdated. Or quite possibly non-existent - apart from those rare few who are accepting of it. Those people; with whom you have worked consistently and considerately to build a foundation of trust. Those to whom giving your whole self, you hope, will follow. I think today each of us carries the weight of the world: we have so much excess baggage and we are all afraid to drop it into someone else's lap. But how then can we know each other truly and wholly? I can only be a true friend if I know when to catch you. I am quite possibly more baggage than person at this stage - so I would have to do a considerable amount of camouflaging if I were to make friends on the principle of only sharing the good bits. But it takes time.
I find that between women the task is a little harder. Perhaps we are sharers more naturally than men - typically the man is the 'strong one', holding the family up and supporting them. I by no means believe that should be the case but I agree that It's easier perhaps for women to feel they can offload a bit to a slightly less emotional male compatriot; bonding and solidifying trust in the process. Women however are sharers together. Thus a balance must be struck. It can be a challenge - how will the good and bad be received? We live in a world of technology which allows us to easily (and creatively) paint the most vivid depiction of our chosen self - how can we then smash that into pieces by revealing the hidden facets? The ease of the painted self makes the prospect of sharing the real one a whole lot more daunting. I think we are forcing ourselves into a social perception now more than ever.
Then there's the times when you take the leap, and you fall clear of the catch. These times are as heart-wrenching as a romantic break-up and I think we are too quick to neglect that. We've been nurturing this relationship and pouring our whole self into its curation. It hurts when it doesn't work out. I have had a few significant break-ups of friendship which have all left their mark. As with romantic relationships; we guard ourselves more carefully for the next one, and as a result we need to dig deeper and work a little harder. This makes friendships challenging, and more so as we move forward in life. Hopefully we learn a little on the way. It is on my approach to 30 (proper adulthood) that I have established those really wonderful, solid friendships, which take work and effort and forgiveness all along the way from both parties.
Friendships are relationships. They challenge us, make us grow, and most importantly I think, learn about ourselves. Those best friendships; though difficult at times, are always there through the times of joy or need. Long-gone are the petty friendships built on superficial details that crumble as soon as the true self is discovered or revealed.
Here now stand pillars of support that can deny the wildest of storms. Pillars that were challenging to construct; but were done so with the same faith given to any relationship. I love my friends as I love my family. Love is love.
And I gladly give it.