“I’m not good at remembering names, so I’ll go ahead and apologize in advance. But it’s nice to meet you.” How many times have you heard this phrase?

You walk away from talking with a friend and wonder what you even talked about. You don’t know whom you can be around when you don’t feel like acting happy. You don’t feel like you could ever change the conversation to a serious topic. If you identify with any of these, you probably struggle with knowing the experience of a true friendship. You are missing the intimacy of companionship.

What is the difference between friendship and companionship?

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). Help your friends succeed. College is all about the definition of success and working hard. But sometimes working hard isn’t always success or responsibility with your time. My friends wanted to help support me with running my first 5k, so they came out to run with me, even though neither one of them were runners. My friend sprinted with me across the track, yelling at me to run faster. Companionship says, your success is just as important as mine.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6). Accountability is key, lock, and door. Don’t just say what your friend wants to hear. Be the one to give sincere compliments and sincere criticism. I will never forget the first time I asked my friend if there was anything she could see that I needed to grow in. She paused and then gave me an idea of how I should grow along with a specific example of my flaw. Cheerleaders and encouragers make great friends, but no one wants to be told they’re awesome all the time. If you are sincere, you will attract sincere friends. Companionship says, I will be more than a friend that just flatters you.

“If either of them falls down, one can help the other up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10). Listen with your eyes. Not many people are going to automatically be vulnerable with you. Know your friends well enough to know how to pray for them. If you see them acting differently, ask about that particular behavior. On the brighter side, if you notice your friend has a spiritual or physical gift they don’t realize, point it out. Offer a suggestion for a way they could use that gift. If you notice something that is special or attractive about them, affirm that verbally. Companionship says, you are a unique person to me.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). You’re more than just a number. Nothing speaks “you are one of my closest friends” like spending time together. Time is money, and it is spent on what is valued. Prioritize time for that person. Let them know what you gave up to be there. Put your phone on silent or ask them to excuse you for a second because you have to answer this text. But prove to them that other people and your phone are not distracting. Companionship says, nothing else is more important right now.

“But the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Lifetime companionship. If you treat sincere friends in that same way, sooner or later one of those people you let into your companionship may be your forever companion. Marriage is not for everyone, but if you have the companionship basics down, the transition will be smoother. Listening with your eyes, treating someone like more than a number, giving accountability, and helping the other person succeed are all life skills of marriage and companionship. Companionship says, I care about you as a person.