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What is friendship?

Posted by Mr. Quimby on Saturday, November 18, 2006

I've been thinking a lot about friendship recently.  In part because of the changes to the Hangout and the fact that we can invite people to be our friend or they can invite us, and we can chose to accept or decline.  It's hard for me to issue that invitation, because there's always this thought in the back of my mind "what if he/she says no?"  I have always very much feared rejection.

I guess realistically it's not that important in the grand scheme of things.  If someone says no, I dust off my pride and go on.  The same is true in real life.  When you offer friendship to someone and they reject your offer, or ignore it, you have to be willing to accept that and just move on.

But there's this song I've been listening to recently and in it there's this one line "You weren't a best friend, because best friends don't demand things.  They give you love, love, love even when they don't get attention."  And I kind of like that line, because there is a part of me that agrees.  I have good friends, people I've known for years, and I don't hear from them real often.  I get the occasional email or phone call, and we catch each other up on our lives and then go back to that silence.

But the silence is reassuring because I know that there's someone out there who cares about me and who wants to know how I'm doing and who takes the time to give me a call or send me an email.

The important part of those friendships, though, I think is the history I have with those people.  We have been friend for years.  I don't need to make demands because they have given me freely in the past.  Maybe now I don't hear much from them, but I know I can make a call or send an email or a letter and they will respond and be there if I need them.

There is someone I know right now, someone I care about a great deal, and yet when I look at our "friendship" I realize that there is no giving on his part and never has been.  The silence between us is always tension filled because I wonder "if I don't reach out to him, will he ever make an effort to get in touch with me again?"

It's painful to look at something that I have considered a friendship and to recognize that at the heart of it there is nothing there.  Like a tree that has rotted out from the inside, there is a facade of solidity and nothing behind it.

Friendship is about giving and about caring.  But I'm also coming to realize that it is a two way street and that if only one person is doing the giving then it's not a friendship at all.  Do I have a right to demand more from this person?  I don't know.  If he were truly my friend, then maybe yes, I could make demands.  But if he's not a friend at all, then no.  Because my rights as a friend can only exist if there is a friendship to begin with.

So I guess it's time to dust off my pride and move on.

2 comments on “What is friendship?”

frailin Says:
Saturday, November 18, 2006 @4:53:12 PM

Friendship is two-way.  It's also based heavily on trust.  I've had friends all my life, but at 54, the new ones I'm making I cherish every bit as much as the old ones.  There's a commeraderie that comes with age.  I really like the way it works. 

I also like to think of BHO as a place of friendship.  It seems most of the guys here are 50 to 60-somethings.  It's easy to be friends.  All ya gotta do is start telling life stories - the good and the bad.  That can go on for days!

What fun! 

frailin Says:
Saturday, November 18, 2006 @4:55:33 PM

Ha!  I just noticed you're a 36 YO female!  My apologies (Mr. Quimby).  Anyway, the principles of friendship still apply (trust).  And that gets easier to give with age. 

What I've enjoyed most is I find others (new people I don't know) extending trust as well.  It's easier to trust someone than carry suspicion.  Sure makes for better conversation, too.

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