Are friends really friends

International Friendship Day: Everyone has a maximum of three really good friends

Soul mates, bosom friends or just buddies: there are many friendships. But really good friends are rare. Wolfgang Krüger, friendship researcher from Berlin, explains why this is the case on International Friendship Day on July 30th in an interview with the dpa.

Mr. Krüger, what actually makes a good friend?

Kruger: A good friend is someone you can absolutely trust, whom you can tell everything possible, including about fears, weaknesses, embarrassing situations. And a friend is absolutely reliable. If you are in any crisis and need support - the friends that are left are the right friends.

When can I even call someone a friend?

Kruger: The predicate of friendship is actually only given to relationships if it is about friendships from the heart. These are the relationships where there is also great emotional intimacy. These are also the relationships that last the longest. Within seven years, 50 percent of friendships fail. And above all, average friendships fail, while heartfelt friendships are often stable for life.

How can you ensure that a friendship lasts particularly long?

Kruger: Friendship is an art that you have to invest a lot in - to keep friendship alive. To be interested, to feel where the friends are in their lives now, where can I support them. And when I do that, and see it as a challenge, then I have good friendships.

And where do you find the most valuable friendships?

Kruger: Usually you need some kind of living environment in which you have similar interests. But you have to say one thing: friendships are always handpicked, it's like looking for a diamond. That said, I create a very personal relationship with friendships and making friends is really a matter of luck. Each of us has at most three really good friendships. So friendships are rare.

You can also make friends on Facebook and Co. What is the value of such friendships?

Answer: First of all, all of the technology - Facebook, e-mails, Internet - is a great relief for friendships in order to establish contact. But I also need to see friends in person on occasion. That means I have to be able to smell them, I need the physical presence. And if you write to people all the time on the Internet, you can be with a lot of people - but friendships in the real sense are not.

Why is friendship so important anyway?

Kruger: The biggest problem we have in life is loneliness. And we need this social village so that we can have confirmation from outside. So that people are there who basically carry us. We know that when we have good friendships, we are a lot more stable spiritually. Those who have good friends live around 20 years longer.

For International Friendship Day on July 30th: what would be a nice gesture for a friend?

Kruger: If I've had friends for 10, 20, 30 years, why don't I tell the friend what qualities I like about him? In a love relationship, we occasionally write love letters. Why not write letters to friends in which I tell the friend that I like that. Those are five qualities that I love about you.

To person: The graduate psychologist Wolfgang Krüger (66) works as a psychotherapist in Berlin. He has been dealing with the topics of friendship and relationships for over 30 years. The friendship expert published various articles in specialist journals about his research and studies. He is the author of several guidebooks. dpa / AZ