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Friendship Russian way.

What does a friend mean for Russians? Russian women Friends.

Three beautiful Russian girls - friends

Russia has its own notions of friendship which does not match European and Asian standards. One of most frequent observations of foreign visitors to Russia is the contrasting behavior of the locals. People who may seem and even act aggressive to strangers are most sincere and openhearted to a friend. Knowing someone personally changes the attitude a lot. And friends are very meaningful for Russians.

Russian friendships are intense. Friends are very important and it is quite often that friends are for life. A Russian proverb says: “Нет друга - ищи, а нашел - береги” (If you have no friend then seek him, and take care once you have found.)

Russians rarely become friends immediately and refer to those they have friendly relationships with as “acquaintances”, “fellows”, “buddies”, etc. A friend is someone very meaningful and is more like a family. Friendship 'Russian way' is much more then just meeting occasionally to have good time with, go out or have dinner. A friend is someone who will do anything for you, but who also expects you to be there for them no matter what. A friend listens to you, lends you money if you need, can drop in any time, comes to move furniture, knows most of your life and loves you for what you are.

A friend is someone who listens to your problems and lets you pour out your soul. This is probably the reason, why Russians rarely go to psychologists or psychiatrists – a friend’s talk can solve many problems. Russian national character means sharing problems and misfortune with more willingness than own luck and success. This could explain another Russian proverb: “Не тот друг, кто на пиру гуляет, а тот, кто в беде помогает”. (This is not a friend who feasts with you, but the one who helps in need.)

The words of wisdom are proved by the data of the opinion poll. 40% of Russians says a friendship is mutual help, loyalty and readiness to sacrifice. 30% of the respondents named trust, decency and sincerely as the fundamentals of friendship. Only 15 % mentioned common interests and hobbies and 9% of country’s nationals consider that leisure and past time spent together are enough to call each other friends. The poll data shows that Russians set high standards for friendship, are ready to give much and require the same in return.

A friendly company of Russian teenage girls

According to the poll, the growing distances between the peoples (moving places, emigration) is the main reason friends break up. Betrayal is placed as a second reason. Then go personal traits of a friend one cannot accept. And finally, most widespread reason that can end a friendship is a growing gap in interests and views.

The value of friendship is very high in Russia - "Нет друга - ищи, а нашел - береги." (Seek a friend if you have none and value him once you have found) - Russian words of wisdom. Friendship is the one of the leading topics of Russian fairy tales and literature.

The unique bonds of friendship and brotherhood developed during the Great Patriotic War. For the War veterans the soldier’s friendship is a model relationship rare in usual life.

Besides, traditional Russian collectivist and communality create special close relationship. It may not be friendly at times, yet seem to be more humane, intimate and hearty. This is the first thing Russian emigrants often refer to comparing life in Russia and aboard. And this is what they lack dramatically while living abroad.

The community was highly prioritized in the Soviet times. Whatever the drawbacks it could have, a typical Soviet was always involved in the collective professional or personal life and was motivated to be in tune with the society. The depression was a rare word.

The changes in the society affect Russian friendship. Atomization of society, growing of social inequality, increasing value of own individuality and work migration make the canon of Russian friendship adopt some western features, sociologists say. People feel and act in a more formal and distant way, rarely communicate with neighbours, reply on the society less, and find it harder to make sincere and lasting social contacts.

Russian girl-friends shopping

Russian women friends

The social life in Russia is still more predictable that in some Western countries. And thus a Russian girl learns to rely on social infrastructure as something solid: many girls grow up in same district in town and visit the same school. The families rarely move and often live close and even in the same apartment with relatives. It is usual that kids from the same kindergarten go to the same school in the neighborhood and grow up together. A closeness of a school and presence of friends is often viewed as an advantage by parents and one of the reasons when the school is chosen.

Often these classmates become closest friends for life. Despite the growing importance of individuality and own-self, the kids, especially girls are taught sharing, support and landing a hand. Friends for a girl (podruzhki) are important. They are not only games or disco parties companions but also first teachers and consultants, comforters and advisers. At the adolescence period friends‘s opinion becomes even more important that parent’s.

Friends reflect the social meaningless and personality. Russians say "Скажи мне, кто твой друг, и я скажу, кто ты" – Tell me who your friends is and I shall tell you who you are (A man is known by his friends). Russian parents tend to pay lots of attention to friends and environment. There is a widespread fear that a child gets into a bad company if has “wrong” friends. So good and positive friendship is cherished and motivated.

However a stability and authenticity of female friendship is frequently questioned and always put under question by Russia’s males. Words like “frenemy” or “be friends again someone” are sometimes referred to female friendship. Men insist that women friendships are less reliable and lasting then those men able to sustain. The reasons are jealously, mean behavior, a tendency to competing and comparing each other and backbiting.

An editor-in-chief of the Russian edition of Marie Claire magazine Svetlana Kolchik in her article about females friendship mediates whether it is really right that it is harder for a woman to find female buddy than it is to find a mate. She thinks that even though women crave girl-talk and emotional binding with other women they anyway are “prone to comparing each others' looks, outfits, men, children, careers, paychecks and what not”. She also marks that the growing use of social media “provide a very welcoming arena for all kind of indirect female bullying – compulsive gossiping often mounting to verbal aggression of frightening levels” among so called “facebook (or vkontakte) friends”.

Of course friends argue and have fights. It happens to everyone. However there is hardly a person in the world that would not like to have at least one friend. Russians say: "Дерево держится корнями, а человек – друзьями" (Trees are supported by roots, and man - by his friends.)

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