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Thread: on the nature of friendship

  1. #1

    Default on the nature of friendship

    In a blog response, I found myself trying to make sense of a concept that most of us probably believe we have a keen understanding of, but in my case at least I know that I do not. The questions asked were "What is friendship? and What is a friend?" Deceptively simple, these questions. I am pretty sure I have the answer I want, but at the same time I've spent much of my lifetime searching for it and pushing it away that not everything I believe may be the perfect truth.

    See, the problem with me is the Wall (yes, I capitalize it in my mind) that I built within myself early in my life to prevent anyone from discovering my Secret (another capital). I knew that I was a little girl, but I also knew what would happen if anyone else ever found out. I mean they already bullied and beat me enough and they thought I was a boy. So imagine. So up went the Wall, and no one could really get close enough to know me well enough to figure it out. Not even my siblings. Not even my parents. I just did not share myself. And the serious downside of that, I discovered much later, is that friends share themselves. Without the willingness to do so, it's pretty much impossible to make a real friend.

    After my transition, after I tore down that Wall, I tried to make real friends. However, I discovered that I had simply never learned the social skills needed to do so because I had spent my whole life hiding away from them. To my chagrin, now that I really wanted to, I simply couldn't do it.

    Oh well.

    But I still think I understand the nature of what friendship is. It does begin, as I said, with sharing, but it is so much more than that. The bond between friends is one that means that they truly care about the events of each others' lives. They care about each others' families, joys and pains, and they share in the happiness and the sorrow, provide support when it is needed and laughter as much as the universe allows. Friendship is a bond that unites people who may or may not share common characteristics, but who have been brought together for some reason and have discovered that they enjoy each others' company. It takes some time to forge and has to be nurtured, but it does last.

    A true friend supports you no matter what happens. He's the one who laughs at your stupidest jokes. She is willing to drop everything and come over if you need her or give you a ride when your car breaks down. He listens to you when life is falling apart even when he'd rather be watching the football game. She brings meals to your house when you are ill. He smiles and engages with your children when they are being annoying while he's visiting. She doesn't expect anything in return when she does you a favor.

    Friends are the ones you can call when you have last-minute tickets to the ballgame and they will drop everything and join you and you'll all have the greatest time. Friends are the ones who stay at your house until it's way too late because no one wants the party to end. Or they are the ones who know when it's time to leave because you're getting tired.

    Friends are something I have. But the kind of deep friendships I have described? I can only dream about those.

  2. #2

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    To me, friendship is a subset of aestheticism. In the same way that you can look at a beautiful work of art and find it impossible to reduce the magnificence of its qualities to mere words or concepts; so too for a friend... :-)

    I suppose friendship is the state of affairs between two people, when either one can anticipate the emotional needs of another and, for a small sacrifice, willingly give something to the other person that is worth more than its cost. (That... doesn't make as much sense when I read it back as I thought it would when I wrote it... Hmmm....)

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by ICkaraokegirl View Post

    Friends are something I have. But the kind of deep friendships I have described? I can only dream about those.[/B][/FONT][/B]
    What makes you think this? If you don't mind my asking. >_>

    Back to your question though- Friendship is not something that I think I would be able to define... I have to agree with Tiny in that its probably a little difficult to define something like friendship in words.

    All I can say for certain is that in order for a friendship to exist, there needs to be a strong degree of trust between the people involved. Also (and this is probably a little cliche), friendship can't be bought, it must be earned.

    It's as you said though, when forging friendships it is very important to be open with one another; because without that, you definitely won't gain trust.

  4. #4

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    It's hard for me to explain what friendship is and what friends really mean to me. Because over the past month or two I'm no longer friends with a really good buddy of mine all because something didn't go his way. The other friend never returned any of my calls and I tried calling and texting him numerous times.

    But friendship to me is when two strangers find that they have different things in common and that they can laugh and joke around and always have a good time with each other.

    What is a friend to me? A friend is someone who will always be there for you in the good times and the worst of times. A friend is someone you can depend on and trust. Someone who you can call during the day or text and ask if he wants to hang out and not blow you off for something else without telling you (Trust is a huge thing for me in a friendship. Once you lose it, it's going to be a while before I can trust them again.)

  5. #5

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    A friendship is something that happens by a chance of fate, it can happen when two people find each other and find something in common with the other that they like, it can happen by a random act of kindness, it can happen by even being paired together.

    However it happens, it is a bond that is created of something between two of the same kind of people. Regardless of any age, any size, any ethnicity and any religion, as long as those two people can find something to hold on dear between the two of them, then that is when you know you have a goo friendship on your hands.

    Being a friend means having to think more and more about how you act around other people and consider the feelings, wants and needs of said people, because in the end, in order to make said friendship last you need to be more wanting towards those you care about.

    As somebody who's realized the beauty of friendship so late in his life, it's easy how so many people take friends for granted and treat them as being disposable, that for any friend you can find, you can easily find another one to take their place. But the true beauty of having a friend isn't just from having a friend, it's from having someone you can really connect with and care for, someone that you can talk with about stuff individually that you usually cannot with most friends.

    It's because of that, friends need to be treated with as much respect as anybody else in your life. Because in this life, they are the only ones that you can really and truly rely on in any dark time.

    That. Is what a friend is to me.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by RadioactiveSquirrel View Post
    What makes you think this? If you don't mind my asking. >_>

    Back to your question though- Friendship is not something that I think I would be able to define... I have to agree with Tiny in that its probably a little difficult to define something like friendship in words.

    All I can say for certain is that in order for a friendship to exist, there needs to be a strong degree of trust between the people involved. Also (and this is probably a little cliche), friendship can't be bought, it must be earned.

    It's as you said though, when forging friendships it is very important to be open with one another; because without that, you definitely won't gain trust.
    I am an odd duck.

    I find it very easy in cyberspace to be open, to bare my soul, to listen to others and find what I hope is good counsel to give to them, to take the time to be there for anyone who needs me, no matter what the reason. I guess I should not be surprised at this: in this medium I use the written word. I have always been at my best using the written word. If I could go through every minute of every day using nothing but the written word, I think I could be everyone's perfect friend (as long as I could somehow find a way to do it at the right speed).

    Of course even the written word is not perfect, as I demonstrated well in another thread, in which one member seriously misconstrued (again and again) what I was trying to say. But most of the time, it works out well.

    IRL, I can do this sort of thing with my children, and with needy students, my surrogate children, but not with others. The problem that I have is my ironically introverted nature. I say "ironically" because I am a teacher, a karaoke singer, an actress, a storyteller, etc.: all things that one would think scream "extrovert." But consider each of them for a moment. In every one of those cases, where am I? In control, playing a role, on a stage. Even as a teacher, I am performing. I learned how to perform at a very young age, how to conceal my real emotions because they were very dangerous, how to build my Wall. When I developed my interest in diapers, too, that same instinct told me that no matter how much I wanted it I couldn't ever say it. And even when I started wetting the bed and thought maybe I could get it, the instinct told me I had to keep hiding it, had to keep it behind the Wall.

    You don't build many long, deep, emotional connections that way with people.

    Today, if I desperately needed someone to talk to outside of my family, I'm not sure where I would turn. And it isn't just that. Two years ago, I found myself in a crazy situation: there was a hurricane in Houston and the Cubs were being rained out late in the season, and the Astros were in the pennant race so the games needed to be played. It was also iffy weather in Chicago, and anyway the Astros wanted neutral turf. Rumors had it they would move the games to Milwaukee. I determined that, if they did, I'd be there: how often do you get a chance to see a late-season meaningful Cubs game in close-up seats? Well they did announce on Thursday that there would be a game the next night in Milwaukee, and I was like: YES! So I checked with my kids and my husband, but they were not available. And then...

    I had no clue whom I might call to ask if they would like to drop everything and go to Milwaukee to see a Cubs game.


    Sad, right? But I wasn't going to miss it, so I went alone. And Carlos Zambrano pitched a no-hitter. It was spectacular, but it would have been much more so if I had had someone to share it with other than the random strangers sitting near me.

    I have no doubts that I have touched a lot of lives. I'm a teacher after all. But there's a superficiality to all of that. And the reality of it all--I can admit this too in writing on the internet to strangers--is that I have never learned how to be a good friend IRL. I can be a great friend online. But IRL? Not so much. I lock myself away even today. I know how to be a good friend but I simply don't listen to myself. A "good friend" got cancer last year. I sent her emails and e-cards. Did I visit her? Did I do any of the myriad things a good friend ought to do? No. Even though I kept telling myself I should. She's not upset about any of it. She doesn't even seem to notice. But I do. I know. Other friends picked up the slack, as they always do. Me, I sat in my house with my laptop because...I was born this way. (Well, not literally, because in the first place, it would have hurt my mom like hell, and in the second place, the doctors back in '57 would have been utterly baffled by a laptop. But you know what I mean.)

    Here is a twin set of facts that may tell you something. In my department, on institute days, some of us end up getting small groups together to go out for lunches. In thirty years, I have never once been asked to go to lunch in such a group. In thirty years, I have never once asked to form such a group.

    This is who I am. Don't misconstrue my intent. I am not complaining to the universe about my lot. Oh there are times when I do bemoan the fact that I can't form the close friendships that others form so easily. I hate the fact that I passed this characteristic to my first-born (who shares multiple other emotional troubles with me), though I am happy that my other children managed to avoid it. I have a large number of people who like me and whom I like, even if none of them would ever think to randomly call and, say, invite me to dinner. But that's life. And you get from life what you are able to put into it. As it turns out, this is one aspect of myself that I am utterly incapable of putting into it, try as I might.

  7. #7

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    I found a long time ago that a friend is someone who thinks of your well being even over their own.
    I know many people but have very few friends.

  8. #8

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    I saw this post two days ago and thought I'd like to write something about friendship but I realised I needed to think about the subject a bit more before I did comment.

    I now realise I'm still flummoxed by the whole subject.

    I can read the usual friendship things and understand what the comment was saying. I have been know to repeat these comments in other situations and believed I had imparted some understanding on the nature of friendship.

    BUT when it comes down to the practical use and application of these things, I am completely in the dark.

    I have been told in the past by different sources that I'm a likeable person and yet even this confuses me as its imparting a value to my personality. I wonder if the nature of my mentality precludes me from ever seeing value in myself and this would explain the next part of my post.


    Quote Originally Posted by ICkaraokegirl View Post
    The problem that I have is my ironically introverted nature. I say "ironically" because I am a teacher, a karaoke singer, an actress, a storyteller, etc.: all things that one would think scream "extrovert." But consider each of them for a moment. In every one of those cases, where am I? In control, playing a role, on a stage. Even as a teacher, I am performing.
    In each of these situations you are bringing something with you to allow the interaction to happen. For example, A teacher is not only performing but is also imparting knowledge and thus bringing value to the pupils. An actress is displaying a skill to portray a character and the karaoke singer is providing entertainment to the listeners.

    This is where I feel I fall down, my mind allows me to interact with people if I have something to bring with me or some value to impart but as soon as I am stood there offering nothing but myself I freeze like a rabbit in headlights.

    I wonder if friendship is the ability to bring value to each other's lives with a mutual sharing of all the things that friends share.


    Damn it but I didn't want a post about friendship to degenerate into a psychological analysis but my muse was awakened and my sore fingers won't allow me to consider deleting this.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ICkaraokegirl View Post
    I am an odd duck.
    bloody quackers!
    but aren't we all? well, i am; especially given that i've done much as you, in keeping people away.

    my mum's got a fridge-magnet, given by a 'friend', that says, "friends are the family we choose for ourselves", and as corny as that is, i think we all know that it's true.
    having said that, i also keep my family at a distance.

    and to be honest, i don't much like having to care about others. i prefer the looser friendships where there's not a care. and then, in times of need, you realize that you do care.
    i think that's the same with your bloodkin: mostly, you can take or leave them, or you can't stand to be around them, but when the shit hits the fan........

    and often, overt displays or declarations of affection are actually affectation, and such things never end well.

    in summary, friends should be five minutes of fun, not a dragging day. that way, everybody gets something, other than pissed-off.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strontium View Post

    This is where I feel I fall down, my mind allows me to interact with people if I have something to bring with me or some value to impart but as soon as I am stood there offering nothing but myself I freeze like a rabbit in headlights.

    I wonder if friendship is the ability to bring value to each other's lives with a mutual sharing of all the things that friends share.
    Well I suppose that might also make for a nifty little definition of the difference between introvert and extrovert: the former sincerely believes he has nothing original to offer new people, while the latter believes no one can live without him in their lives.

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