"I was born to love you …," says a famous song. In fact, most popular songs are about love — it is our greatest need. Babies will not grow properly if no-one gives them love.
There are ways to find and keep good friends — whether they are friends at school or work, boyfriends and girlfriends, or husbands and wives:
- Put the other person first.
- If you only want to get, and not give, the friendship will not last.
- Take time to talk about important things — how you really feel.
Talk about your feelings
Many people kill themselves, and marriages end, because people do not talk about their real feelings to anyone.
- Take time to be together and do things together.
- Learn to listen.
- Try to understand what the other person really feels and thinks.
- Show friendship by asking gentle questions.
- Don't have just one special friend — ask others into the circle of friendship.
Be the first one to say 'sorry'
- Learn to forgive and then forget any bad things that other people have said or done to you.
- Do this on the same day that it happens.
- Look at the good things in the lives of other people and not those things which make you cross!
- Remember that there are things in your life which other people may not like.
Do not choose friends because you like the way they look, or their clothes and money.
- What are they really like inside?
- Watch how they treat other people — their parents, brothers, sisters — because that is how they will behave to you also after a few weeks.
If your friend tells you something in secret, do not tell it to others or say bad things about that person.
It is very easy to lose the trust of someone else — and very hard to get it back again.
Learn to make friends with people from other groups, tribes and colours — everyone is equal.
Look out for people who seem lonely at school or work.
In one school in London, there are 'friendship stations' — places outside the school building where children can wait if they are lonely and need a friend. Some children at this school have been taught to be 'friendship counsellors', looking out for the lonely ones and giving them help.
Boyfriends and girlfriends
Here are some other things to think about: You don't have to have a boyfriend or girlfriend just because many other people do! If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you still need other friends too. Don't spend all your time with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Even if everyone that you know is having sex (or says they are), you don't need to! Many of them could be dead from AIDS in five years' time. When they are dying, they will wish it was possible to go back into the past and change the way they behaved.
Don't 'sleep around'. Save sex until you are married — it is the best wedding present you can give to your partner. The next best thing is to stop now, and wait until marriage! If you are HIV+, having sex with someone else will give HIV to them too. There is no such thing as completely safe sex. But there is always hope if you are thoughtful and careful and put other people first.
Husbands and wives
Learn to talk about important and difficult things, such as how to handle money, family, and children. If your culture allows it, talk about these things before you are married, and what you expect from each other. Sex was made by God for marriage, to say: "I love you, I belong to you completely for life, we are one." Don't even think about having sex with anyone else. Marriage is for your whole life, not just until you find someone younger or prettier. God says that marriage is a picture of the close relationship that he wants people to have with him.
Why things go wrong
Look at any newspaper. What is the reason for so many bad things happening? Almost always, it is because people are selfish. There is something in each of us, which wants to put ourselves first before everyone else. It makes us do things that we know are wrong — even when we do not want to. This is our 'human nature' — the way we are inside. When we lose friendship with someone, it seems like there is a big wall between us. Is there an answer to this problem? God offers us his friendship. With him as our friend, all our other friendships will be better too. He promises us the power to live life differently. Jesus died to break down the wall between us and God. He can change your life for ever.
Living with HIV
If you are HIV+, there is real hope for you. "I learned Jesus was my only hope," says Irina, who is HIV+. "Now Jesus is my best friend and he helps me in everything." If you know people who are HIV+, give them extra love and friendship. Talk to them about their worries. Find ways to help children whose parents have died through AIDS.