TOTD 1/22: Defining Friendship

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Synsensa
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TOTD 1/22: Defining Friendship

Post by Synsensa » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:34 pm

It's happened a few times in the past where I've hurt someone's feelings because I didn't consider them a friend even though they considered me one, and I've noticed that my definition tends to be a bit more narrow than others.

To me, a friend is someone that I wouldn't mind speaking to every day in some capacity. Someone that I actively attempt to help without prompting. Someone that I am willing to have reach out to me privately for a casual conversation. This does not describe many people, and as a result I self-describe myself as not having very many friends even though there are quite a few people that I can hold a positive conversation with/enjoy myself with.

I've sort of always had this outlook, even before I became isolated. In high school I was a part of a friend group of about 12 people and I only considered three of them friends. Likewise, today, I'm a part of an online group of over 20 people and I would only consider one of them a friend.

Publicly, I might acknowledge these people as friends to save face, but privately I am far more restrictive in the definition. I don't see an issue in describing people as acquaintances, but others do. How do you guys define friendship?

Timsup2nothin
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Re: TOTD 1/22: Defining Friendship

Post by Timsup2nothin » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:37 am

I have deep thoughts on this subject, but I'll have to get back to you with those. For now, a joke, which as all good jokes need has a grain of truth at the core.

An acquaintance recognizes your name and accepts the charges when you call from jail, but a friend asks about your bail before they ask what you did.

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Cutlass
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Re: TOTD 1/22: Defining Friendship

Post by Cutlass » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:46 am

I had a number of who I thought of as good friends through teen years and into my 20s. Over time they stopped returning my calls. Then I wouldn't call, and they wouldn't call, and then more than a year passed, and then more years. I never found out why. It made me very reluctant to even consider making new friends.

Timsup2nothin
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Re: TOTD 1/22: Defining Friendship

Post by Timsup2nothin » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:38 am

Cutlass wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:46 am
I had a number of who I thought of as good friends through teen years and into my 20s. Over time they stopped returning my calls. Then I wouldn't call, and they wouldn't call, and then more than a year passed, and then more years. I never found out why. It made me very reluctant to even consider making new friends.
School friends are never tested. Kids in school have no needs, because needs are basically met by parents. Keeping in touch is effortless, since you are thrown together every day, like it or not. When school ends they get tested, and almost all fail. As I said elsewhere, you have to be a friend to have a friend, and being a friend takes serious effort so may not seem worth it.

When you are a friend you have to meet needs. If the person who considers you their friend invites you to a club that is not your style and is way out of your way because their band which you know is not really very good is booked as the opening act, you find a way to show up, because that's what friends do. When they call you right in the middle of getting ready to do something fun you stop getting ready and hear their sad tale, because that's what friends do. When they get in a dispute with someone over nothing, and they are on the stupid side, you still take their side even though you are going to let them know after the dust settles that they were wrong, because that's what friends do. Etc.

All those things are hard to do. Some people don't need anyone to do those kind of things for them, or much of anything else for that matter, so again they might feel like going to such efforts doesn't get them anything in return. But mostly it is good to have friends, in most peoples' opinion.

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Cutlass
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Re: TOTD 1/22: Defining Friendship

Post by Cutlass » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:25 am

These weren't school friends. None of them lived in my town.

GoodEnoughForMe
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Re: TOTD 1/22: Defining Friendship

Post by GoodEnoughForMe » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:54 pm

Friendship is willing to do emotional labor for each other without expectations of owing someone for doing so. It's probably pretty regular communication that feels natural and not built to meet a certain assumed expectation. And also laughing at stupid memes together.

Timsup2nothin
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Re: TOTD 1/22: Defining Friendship

Post by Timsup2nothin » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:48 pm

Cutlass wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:25 am
These weren't school friends. None of them lived in my town.
I should have said 'school age' friends, though without going to school together either something else managed the routine contact part or they were at least meeting that challenge on their own.

Synsensa
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Re: TOTD 1/22: Defining Friendship

Post by Synsensa » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:56 pm

I like Tim's and GEFM's definitions a little better than mine. I focused more on "willingness" instead of "application" in my description. Your descriptions are better and more relatable, I think.

Lexicus
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Re: TOTD 1/22: Defining Friendship

Post by Lexicus » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:15 pm

This is something I've been thinking about a lot as I've finished school and moved on to Real Life. I don't think I can come up with a precise definition, but I like GEFM and Tim's ideas.

The problem I've been having is that unequal emotional investment seems to be inescapable part of most relationships whether friendly or romantic, and I'm really sick of getting emotionally invested in people only to find that they are not emotionally invested in me at all (or to such a low degree that they might as well not be at all). It's gotten to the point where I don't even really want to bother meeting new people anymore. Sort of related to that is whether people reach out to you. It hasn't escaped my notice that, even for most of the people I consider close friends, I'm the one reaching out basically every time. Very few people just call or text me out of the blue, and three of the people who do are in my immediate family.

Synsensa
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Re: TOTD 1/22: Defining Friendship

Post by Synsensa » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:43 pm

Lexicus wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:15 pm
The problem I've been having is that unequal emotional investment seems to be inescapable part of most relationships whether friendly or romantic, and I'm really sick of getting emotionally invested in people only to find that they are not emotionally invested in me at all (or to such a low degree that they might as well not be at all). It's gotten to the point where I don't even really want to bother meeting new people anymore.
I'm guilty of this, I think. A lot of the people I described in my OP would probably say they were emotionally invested in me, and I... don't really share it. For most people in my life, I'm completely fine if I don't hear from them again for several months. I'm fine with just ending a conversation after a few minutes, and I'm not particularly inquisitive about their identity or their opinions unless they need help.

I get away with this by never talking about myself in 1-on-1 conversations with most people. When we do talk, it's always about them or a common interest. They usually don't notice the discrepancy and it gets me the label of good listener or free psychologist. It works for me, but I imagine these people would feel as bad as you do if they caught on that I was intentionally putting subtle walls up so they couldn't get any closer to me.

I share a lot more on CFC and here than I do with people I'm meant to be friends with.
Sort of related to that is whether people reach out to you. It hasn't escaped my notice that, even for most of the people I consider close friends, I'm the one reaching out basically every time. Very few people just call or text me out of the blue, and three of the people who do are in my immediate family.
People don't reach out to me anymore, but I think that's because I kept saying 'no' to their offers. They would reach out and invite me to things, but they would be things that I could not do. Even if I wanted nothing more than to go or participate, I would not be able to. After a while they stopped bothering. At first I thought this was a 'me' problem. After thinking on it, though, I realize that the only realistic avenue in a scenario like this is to invite people to things they can do instead of things you want to do. This is something most people don't grok, in my experience.

When I invite someone to an activity, I try to make sure it's something that everyone involved can actually do and derive benefit from. For many others, it seems the focus is instead on, "What do I want to do? Is there anyone I can invite to do it with me?"

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