Ramblings on Friendship

Ah, friendship: the thing that all humans* need in order to have happy, fulfilling lives. An awesome person who reads my blog sent me an interesting article about the different types of friends you encounter throughout your life, and he rightly stated that it would give me ideas for quite a few blogs. The article was fairly long, so it’s taken me a long time to ponder it and come up with some (rambling) thoughts on friendship. (There will most likely be a sequel to this post. I don’t want to make it too long.)

First, I have only one real-life friend. If you count relatives and people I only speak with online, then I have a lot of friends. I was never a very popular person in high school or college, so I didn’t have tons of friends there either, but I can honestly say that throughout my life, I have had friends in all the categories listed in the article, except perhaps the “historical friend” because I’m not in touch with anyone I knew from childhood.

In this strange age of social media, it seems like many friendships are superficial and conducted only online, so that makes me think about what the true definition of friendship is. Of course, there are different degrees and types of friendship, as the article points out, but what is the bare minimum requirement for being considered someone’s “friend”?

I would think that a friend is someone you talk to about things you have in common. A friend is someone you like and enjoy spending time with. By that very basic definition, I would consider my coworkers my friends. They’re an interesting group of people, they’re all grammar Nazis like me, and they’re good to spend time with. But at the same time, I wouldn’t necessarily want to spend time with them outside of work, probably because the “trust” and “intimacy” elements aren’t there. A deeper friendship is one in which you can share more personal aspects of your life. At work, it feels awkward to do that.

I’d say that online friendships can fall into that same category. You have things in common with your online pals, and you enjoy spending time with them, whether that’s by reading their emails, communicating with them on forums, or sending them instant messages on Skype or TeamSpeak. But you may not want to ever meet them in real life because, again, those deeper friendship elements are not there. Sure, they can eventually develop over time, and that happens often, but it seems like the majority of your online friends remain your friends only online and don’t get closer than that.

I’m going to stop this post here because it’s starting to get too long. So what about you? How do you define what a friend is?

*Unless you’re a sociopath.

13 thoughts on “Ramblings on Friendship

  1. I think — at the risk of sounding like a greeting card — that there are as many definitions as there are friends. Trying to make one friend fulfill the same role as another doesn’t work. Sometimes you have a friend who you really trust on an emotional level, but you can’t talk movies or politics with them because their opinions are ridiculous. Some people who are interesting in real life become incredibly tedious on social media. Some people you can share terrific experiences with, but you’d never lend them money.

    As you point out, sometimes very good coworkers don’t translate to non-work situations, but it also true that I’ve had some friends who I’d immediately tell my boss not to hire if they showed up for a job interview. 🙂

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    • Yes, indeed. There are as many “boxes” and “categories” as there are people and relationships, yet our human minds still want to categorize everything!

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  2.     I think it’s awesome that you think I’m awesome.           & you ain’t so bad yourself, y’know?!

        (Damn, if things were just a li’l different…like we were anything near the same age & I wasn’t married & you weren’t a million miles away…hey, that’s not so much…)

        (I always did have both a great imagination & a great ability to delude myself)

    Anyhoo, have a wonderful Wednesday, & thanks,  Rich

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  3. I’ve been lucky to “discover” many friends I never expected after my divorce when I became a single mother. What I’ve found is that most people will help you if they know your story, and in fact they often have similar stories to tell. Sharing yourself and your life often makes for good friends.

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  4. Like everyone’s said, the word friend carries many meanings. I also think that introverts and extroverts have different definitions and expectations as to what is a friend. I’d consider myself an introvert, preferring to be a homebody than out and about. Now that I have my own family, and the fact that my peers are now having families of their own, “friends” carry a new meaning to me. Sure, many of my “friends” have disappeared, but there’s a handful of us who can go on for months without a good long conversation, and we’re totally okay with that.

    The strange thing about getting older is that acquaintances grow while friends drift away. It’s those that stay with you (mutually) that I consider a friend.

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    • I think so, too. It’s hard to “hang on” to people as you get older and your lives get more and more different. More time gets put into families and raising kids than hanging out with friends.

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      • Then you meet people with families who are always out and about, I don’t know how they do it! Must be crazy to live in their shoes, too hectic for me. But whatever floats their boat, right? As long as they’re happy and the family stays together. A lot of my old friends have gotten married, but aren’t having kids, so to each their own!

        But it is a wonderful and important thing to have at least one non-family friend.

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  5. Hey Maggie, it’s all sort of an abstract thing isn’t it? You’re not alone though. In high school I had a lot of friends but then I kept moving from place to place and lost interest investing in friendships. I guess friends are just people that you share your life with and can trust to accept that life as it is.

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    • Right–I never thought about that before! It’s a lot about the kind of energy you have and how much you are investing in other parts of your life. Some people have lots of energy, so they have a lot of friends, while others pour all their energies into a job or a family.

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