In “Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life”, Massimo Pigliucci (Professor at the City University of New York) writes: “Aristotle’s opinion was that friends hold a mirror up to each other; through that mirror they can see each other in ways that would not otherwise be accessible to them, and it is this (reciprocal) mirroring that helps them improve themselves as persons.”
In the heritage of the region that today we know as India, marriage, in its essence, is envisioned as such a relationship. In a 2019 essay titled “Rama: A Reasonable Man”, Bibek Debroy writes that Rama and Sugreeva “had a pact of friendship and walked seven times around a fire as a pledge.” Bibek here is referring to the ritual of seven-steps around a sacred fire that is central in the Hindu rites of marriage. Bibek explains: “We think seven steps around a fire are only for a bride and a groom getting married. That ritual is observed for any pledge of friendship.”
This “pledge” Bibek writes about is seen as the deepest, highest human relationship by John O’Donohue, the Irish poet-philosopher. In “Anam Cara A Book of Celtic Wisdom”, John writes of such relationships of love.
“In this love, you are understood as you are without mask or pretension. The superficial and functional lies and half-truths of social acquaintance fall away, you can be as you really are. Love allows understanding to dawn, and understanding is precious. Where you are understood, you are at home. Understanding nourishes belonging. When you really feel understood, you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person’s soul.”