Authenticity is in vogue these days. There is much talk these days about things like authentic leadership, authentic relationships, etc. So then, what is it? What does it mean to be authentic and how does it result in genuine, meaningful and intimate friendships?
To be authentic means to be real, the genuine article, what people see is what they get; there is nothing hidden; all is left open, laid bare, raw, with no need for hypocrisy or white-washed veneer. When it relates to meaningful friendship or intimate relationships, it means not limited to the superficial and not made to conform to a preset mold or form of behavior. Each person is free to be his or her unique self without fear of judgment, condemnation, or being cast out. How does one cultivate this type of genuine relationship?
Authentic friendship begins with a sense of personal security. In order to be real and allow others to be real, a person needs to love and accept themselves for who they are. Each one must recognize that he or she is an unique creation of God’s hand who has a special place in society. This understanding should not lead to arrogance, but to humility i.e a right understanding of one’s self as special but no more special than any other person. Genuine and meaningful relationships begin with personal security.
Authentic friendship accepts others for who they are and gives them permission to be real. There is no attempt to force them into conformity in any form including appearance, fashion styles, or mode of behavior. Meaningful and intimate relationships know no prejudice and do not discriminate; rather they welcome, even celebrate diversity.
Authentic friendship is characterized by openness and transparency. In order for a person to be open and transparent with another he or she must feel safe i.e. they must have no fear of condemnation or being judged for thoughts or actions. When one feels safe they will be more willing to be vulnerable and drop their guard lending to a more genuine encounter and more meaningful and intimate relationship.
This article has discussed three tips or principles for establishing authentic friendships that are genuine, intimate, and meaningful.