Jan 2, 2009

19 Pontificating A Bit on Friendships

FRIENDSHIPTrue friendships (the kind where people sacrifice for each other & support you through life’s troubles) seem like a thing of the past, more and more I hear people complain about their many disposable friendships and the difficulty they experience forming true lifetime friendships and for the first time I truly begin to understand what Aristotle was talking about when he theorized about the different modes of friendships.
True Friendships can be enriching, soul satisfying, nurturing, it encourages a sense of belonging and fosters mutual bonding over shared interests and ethos, and frankly it's beautiful. After listening to colleagues, friends, acquaintances and encountering my own experiences with fleeting friendships I have to admit there seems to be some truth to the disposability factors of friendships. Is it pandemic, no I don’t believe so though it may seem that way as people are swept up in the fast pace city life working two sometimes three jobs to earn and maintain a decent standard of living while simultaneously attempting to balance love, family, friends, cost of living and self-care. Do I think we can do better; absolutely I do because I believe that people should make the time for what’s important regardless. I should have, I could have is useless after the fact.

When I first read Aristotle’s modes of friendships for which I believe if memory serves he cites three(3), (1) Genuine, (2) Utility, (3) Pleasure, I was outraged and indignant because I only ascribed and identified with genuine friendships. I didn’t see that anything could exist outside disingenuousness and was not willing to think pragmatically in relation to friendships base on business etc. Genuine friendships bestfriendsaccording to Aristotle to which I agree are long-lasting; it’s sustainable because it is based on each person mutual love and best interest of the other hence it evolves and grows as each grow.
I unrealistically expected all my relationships to be life-long and was inflexible to the varying differences and contexts. What I later discovered as wisdom, knowledge, understanding and clarity came, it is not that Aristotle was incorrect about his theories on the modes of friendships rather it was that I categorized them differently and that there can be honesty even within these modes as friendships.
Utilitarian and pleasurable friendships which are based on what one can do for the other I simply call acquaintances i.e., acquaintanceship, because they only last for as long as each person get what they want when that "thing" whatever it is no longer exists i.e. can be sustained the friendship ends. I wish I understood this when I was much younger, think of all the heartache and suffering I would have saved myself.
networkingA good example of utilitarian friendships is what is known in business as ‘networking’ where relationships are cultivated to better your business/career i.e. one builds a network that will be beneficial professionally. In other words the friendship is based on what you know that person(s) could do for you and vicey versa.
The other kind of friendship ‘Pleasure friendships’ borrowers a little from utility in the sense that its focus toward a particular end, pleasure only its more socially based, like partying with someone who has exclusive access to nightclubs, fashion, restaurants etc., both of which ends once the benefits, perks whichever you choose to call it ends. I can’t say I have ever had any of those, geez where have I been? Pleasure friendships
I guess at this point my life I understand all three modes of friendships now and I believe it is within our best interest to recognize what type of friendship we are entering into to avoid unnecessary hurt. It is wishful thinking to think that someone will come up to you and say “I want to be your friend because of what you can do for me” and have it be embraced so the best way is to be aware, be mindful and pay attention.
If you do not have a problem with having a utility or pleasurable friendship then great, just make sure you are on the same page. Sometimes true friendships are birthed out of utilitarian and pleasurable ones, a rare occurrence perhaps, it has been known to happen.
True friendship still exists, all is not lost. It does help to keep it real and not get carried away with flights of fancy. It is important to know how you define true friendship, what you are looking for, what your expectations and boundaries are and it is your responsibility to convey those at some point in the relationship because good communication is the key to any relationship
Word to the wise, when embarking on a true friendship ask yourself this:
  • How do I define friendship?
  • What are my expectations?
  • Can I bring to this friendship that which I am asking for?
  • What are my boundaries and how am I prepared to ensure they are not trampled upon?
D.S.B.Rhapsody©2009/2010/2011/2012 ~ First published Friday, January 02, 2009
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