Just as there are levels of love in the romantic sphere of our lives, there are also levels of friendship.
Physical Friendship – being generally open and positive to the idea of someone else’s presence in one’s environment. This happens once one has at least a survival level of the basic needs of nutritious food, clean water, fresh air, warmth, light, and the freedom to express oneself. This is the most common form of friendship, and often has nothing to do with the other person at all, and is instead simply the sign that one is generally healthy at the moment. Strangers happily chatting while riding the bus, in line at the store, or on the internet, are examples of this. It is the most self-focused form of friendship.
Physical friendship is entirely based on past experiences of the individual, and the friendship bonds are entirely dependent on changes to one’s own heath.
Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends.
Emotional Friendship – the emergence of empathy, as one shares many of the same negative and positive physical feelings that someone else internally experiences as they try to grow by getting more of what they need to be healthy. This happens once the other person has been observed freely and intentionally giving one some of what one needs to grow healthfully. This is the second most common form of friendship. An example is what most people consider “casual friends” who are “nice”. It is the first other-focused form.
Emotional friendship is based on both past and present experiences of the individual, and is therefor fairly easily damaged by one’s own health and the health of the other person.
It is important to our friends to believe that we are unreservedly frank with them, and important to friendship that we are not.
Intellectual Friendship – becoming interested in the possibilities of combining one’s own networks, skills, and ideas with someone else’s networks, skills, and ideas to enable more innovative and diverse changes that reflect shared dreams of a better future. This happens once one observes the other person’s own friends supporting them by giving them some of what they need to grow healthfully. This is a somewhat rare form of friendship. An example is the people one enthusiastically works and plays with at school, work, and in one’s own communities online and in person. It is a fairly sophisticated other-focused form.
Intellectual friendship is based primarily on the present and future experiences of the individual (as they imagine them to be), and the friendship bonds are usually strong enough to outlast most mental and physical illnesses of anyone in the nearby network, including oneself and the other person, but still can be damaged if the illness is severe.
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
Spiritual Friendship – recognizing someone else as being an integral part of life, the universe, and everything, and being motivated to bring everything they’ve learned about life together with everything oneself has learned about life to help life itself evolve. This is a very, very rare form of friendship. Examples are that exceptional life-time friend that one usually thinks about on a daily basis – usually a romantic partner, but they don’t have to be. It’s the most sophisticated other-focused form.
Spiritual friendship is based entirely on the future experiences one imagines for the whole world, rather than just one’s own personal experiences, and thus, the bonds are effectively immune to threats by any illness, of any severity, anywhere.
One’s friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human.
Of course, the sense of a friendship bond is an entirely internal state, which may, or may not, be reflected in obvious external behavior, depending on the individual’s health. Which explains why one might not always be fully expressive of their deeper feelings for our intellectual and spiritual friends, even though those feelings very much enliven one’s heart and mind.