Value of Friendship Increases over Time

Dr. Natalie Gelman

Value of Friendship Increases over Time

Unlike family, we get to choose our friends. These people share similar values and interests with us. It can be a rocky road when we are young. We are not always attractive to the people we want for friends.

But as we age, it becomes easier if it is important to us. We meet people in school, at work, and in social environments.

Sometimes the friendships last for years. It does not matter where we live, who we partner with, or what career path we pur¬sue. The history of the friendship transcends time.

I developed a good friend when I began a new elementary school in fifth grade. When we began high school, our interests changed. We did not socialize much, but we stayed in touch. We went to different colleges, but I did spend one weekend with her in her dorm.

After college, she left town and I bought the car she had before she left. I kept track of her through her brother who I would run into every couple of years, but she and I had no direct contact.

Twenty-five years later, I heard from her. She was moving back to Michigan. We met for lunch. It was as if we had never been apart. The features that had attracted us to each other at age 10 remained the same. The profundity of the friendship deepened with age. Sadly, she died when she was 64 years old. I still miss her.

During the pandemic, we were sheltered-in-place. We were encouraged to only interact with the people in our home. We worked at home. We ate at home. We went to school at home. Many shopped from home and had deliveries. We were discouraged from interacting with anybody. We stayed away from other customers in stores. There were lines at the bank and checkouts indicating where we could stand away from other people.

We did not see family members outside of our home or friends. It felt lonely.

After three months, we were allowed to “bubble.” This was a term for meeting up to 12 people we knew well who we trusted were faithful to sheltering in place. We met outside and we wore masks. Some of us met with smaller groups in the yards of our homes.

I would set up chairs 6 feet apart in my backyard and have friends over for wine, or in a couple of cases, water. It was so wonderful to see each other and to talk. We agreed to meet every two weeks.

Then I would get together with a friend and we would bring our own lunch and spend two hours talking. We sat in the garden. It was so relaxing and meaningful.

Friendship has always been very important to me. Only when I was forced to be apart from them, did the longing increase. It was not a surprise they felt the same way. As I said, friendship is defined by similar values and interests.

Dr. Natalie Gelman is an Alameda-based therapist. Submit questions to drnataliegelman@ or through her website,