Mikel Ocean Azure



Not Really Friends.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on November 7, 2010 at 6:05 AM

In the taxi I was driving on Saturday night I had one short (Thankfully.) trip with four customers.  Four twenty something young women who were already far enough into their cups as to be somewhat careless of normal social constraints of communication. 

It was a very noisy trip because at any point at least two of the four were speaking and all of them on the same topic:  who was best friends with who and who had said what nice or nasty thing about who and the details of the most recent friendship failure between them and if it was a failure and who was to blame for it and ....................  .

One of the women was particularly outspoken, correcting everyone in pretty much everything they said and finishing it off by insulting me as she got out of the taxi. (No idea what that was about unless it was because I wouldn't turn off the meter and give them a free ride!)  Basically these four argued non stop.  They did not agree about anything.  They were annoyed with each other.  They were aggressive with each other.  They were using friendship words but all the non verbals and the communication patterns were of combat and competition, win/loose. 

It got me thinking about friendship again.  A thought I've had before is that many people have friends who are not really friends.   Perhaps we get them because they just happen to be the guys we were socially required to hang out with at school and that developed a pattern which just endured on, humans being generally resistant to change and thus willing to endure all kinds of dissatisfactions to avoid change.   Perhaps we get them from a similar process in a work place,  they happen to be the people in our office who we consequently go out with from time to time and even without a real friendship connection a pattern develops and gets stuck.

Now my analysis requires a definition of friendship.  Here's one of the top of my head.

Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection, mutual respect and having a mutually shared level of personal intimacy between parties.  Plenty of other ways it could be defined but that will do for now.

By my on-the-run definition a relationship without respect is not a friendship.  If someone does not respect you, even if you try to respect them, it's not a friendship, it's some other kind of relationship.  If you like someone but don't respect them, that's not a friendship either.  If someone shares deeply with you but you don't share at a similar level, that's not a friendship, it's not mutual intimacy. 

Friendship is mutually rewarding, mutually enriching and empowering.  For sure,  over the long haul  a friendship can legitimately have seasons of being out of balance, less mutual in some aspect, but an actual friendship will regain balance because that is what both parties honestly want in that relationship.  Any relationship that is permenantly or dominantly out of balance is not a friendship, it's something else.

Using my four combative customers as an example.  I think they were enmeshed but not friends.  If that one trip was an accurate slice of their reailty (A big assumption I know, but for the sake of illustration I'll stick with it.) then they did not respect each other, they had no affection for each other and their whole dynamic was to keep each other at arms length, not in an intimate closeness. 

People mistake shared history for friendship but as soon as I remind you of how divorcing couples can argue over details from twenty years in the past and do it with hatred and malice, you grasp my point - lots of shared experiences and lots of detailed knowledge about the other person is NOT friendship.  These four women clearly knew each other very well but they did not share any agreements about what that shared knowledge meant or how to interpret it.  Nothing mutual was going on except a veiled mutual antipathy. :)

I"ve thought about this a lot over the last ten years because I've got few friends.  Mostly as a result of my own patterns, learned at home.   I do things, and I don't really know what they are, that keep me isolated, even though I Iove real friendship and I think it is the foundation stone of a worthwhile human existence.  I'm working at finding ways to live congruently with my value, not live the patterns learned at home.  It is not easy to stop doing something when you don't know what that something actually IS. 

Life is astonishingly short.

I suggest it's best to spend it with people you actually LIKE and who genuinely LIKE you. 

They are the people you can healthfully give the most to and who can healthfully give you the most also.

Having said all that, I speak as an introvert, one who looses energy when I am with people, even people I love or like.  I am an introvert, one who replinishes energy by being on my own.  My perspective on friendship is probably strongly influenced by my introversion.

If you are an extrovert, one who gets energy from being with people and who looses energy when you are on your own,  your definitions of friendship will probably be quite different from mine.

Peace All.


Categories: Self Aware Other Aware

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Reply Cobaltsoul
10:25 AM on November 8, 2010 
He He, yeah, moving to Kintyre would be plenty cool, I could get more seriously to grips, meditatively, with big old standing stones, if we can find another one. :)
You are correct on the "common interests" strategy and I think you are also right on the "happy circumstance" that made your common interest group also a common melding group, tis not always so.
Right now, towards the end of my first year in class with the same group of people, I am recognising that a few of those fellow students might well be potential "outside uni" friends, if I care to take the initiative to open that possibility up. Is is frankly refreshing to be liked by my fellow students and to have that nice warm belly feeling when I see one or two of them appear in the doorway of the lecture hall and I know that today will be fun because that person is around now.
Reply hiker
1:40 PM on November 7, 2010 
"I do things, and I don't really know what they are, that keep me isolated, even though I Iove real friendship and I think it is the foundation stone of a worthwhile human existence".

I can so much identify with that sentence. Except that I don't think it's true about either of us...the keeping ourselves isolated bit....really. I've been in my part of the world for 14 years. Like you I'm an introvert, but I've learnt to extrovert quite well. However, I've struggled to make and keep friends where I am in Scotland. It's odd I feel like a fish out of water here. And I have very much felt like I'm doing something to, well, put people off, sometimes. Having previous to this moved a lot as a child (where I had a bad time being bullied at school) and as an adult, where it was naturally hard to sustain friendships, this period has been my first chance to do so. And I hadn't/haven't felt very good at it.

But I don't believe that is really the case. About 4 years ago now I went on a songwriting course. Someone arranged a songwriting reunion, organised between ourselves, and since then we've been meeting together twice a year for a long weekend or a week. Usually these things tend to fade out. Everyone lives all over the place, mainly England and we all have busy lives. And yet this thing has stuck and I believe will continue to do so. In this gathering I know that people like me. They laugh at my jokes without payment, and there is natural camaraderie between us all. We've been brought together by the songwriting, but I don't think that in itself is enough. Perhaps it's a happy coincidence, but whatever, it demonstrates to me that I am OK friendship material and that I haven't got a Keep Away sticker on my forehead.

I totally agree with your comment about being with people you like. And the need for respect. I can be a hard bugger to please, but I think a good place to start finding good friends is, and perhaps it shouldn't be that big a surprise, amongst people who have similar interests. It was a starting point for me anyway. I still feel lonely sometimes in my home town though. Fancy moving to Campbeltown Mikel ;-)