Friendship in Troubling Times

Affection, trust, sympathy, empathy, honesty, compassion, altruism, mutual understanding, enjoyment of each other’s company, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment. These are the characteristics of a genuine friendship.   


Things seem pretty discombobulated these days. A highly-charged and divisive political and cultural atmosphere routinely strains relationships – even among good friends. It can be heartbreaking. And the stress of all this can’t be healthy on both personal and societal levels.

UnderMain encourages friendship and the civility and collaborative spirit it engenders. With that in mind, we’d like to share with you some delectable food for thought on the subject.

First, let’s get real about friendship.

From the NPR program On Point:

Do your friends actually like you? Researchers say half the time, probably not. Listen to a conversation between host Tom Ashbrook and guests about perceptions of friendship. (Listen to On Point weekdays at 10am on 88.9 WEKU)


“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.

“Pooh!” he whispered.

“Yes, Piglet?”

“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

― A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner


From Brainpickings

Reclaiming Friendship: A Visual Taxonomy of Platonic Relationships to Counter the Commodification of the Word “Friend”

Click here to explore the concentric circles of human connection through the lens of our ideal and real selves.


“A true friend stabs you in the front.”

— Oscar Wilde


From The Huffington Post

Study Shows Most White Americans Don’t Have Close Black Friends



From Psychology Today:

The Mixed Bag Buddy [And Other Friendship Conundrums]

Any relationship that holds the power to buoy us can also sink us, or set us adrift. Discover how from the ambiguous to the truly bad, friends come in many shades.


“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow

Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead

Walk beside me… just be my friend”

― Albert Camus


What are your observations about friendship? Send your thoughts with permission to post to: Watch this space for updates.

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The author

Tom Martin is co-publisher of UnderMain and producer/host of the weekly public radio magazine program Eastern Standard on WEKU. Tom's 50 year career in media has included network news correspondent, newspaper editor, columnist, and student media advisor.