Friends who have cultivated a relationship over time do the cherishing work-and-play that is friendship's essence without self-consciousness or straining. They operate with their version of the intuitive ease and reciprocity that, in the best of all possible worlds, mothers and babies have with each other. Then friends are free to be kindred spirits, to bask in the mutual love of two who wish each other well. Friends who have found each other become a whole greater than their parts.

Within friendship you can practice, safely and freely, the ingredients of cherishment you need in all relationships—at home, at work, in the world. Your friendship becomes a standard to live up to, and your friendship can be an example to others. Cultivated well, friendships seed beyond themselves; a culture can grow from them. Imagine! Cherishment culture.

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl and Faith Bethelard, authors of Cherishment: A Psychology of the Heart, are in private practice in New York City.

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