In this section, you are invited to declare a close (or not so close) friendship or two. As elsewhere on the Blog, the declaration can be anonymous, on one or both sides. However the aim, as always, is to witness to the truth of your own friendship experience, rather than to parrot the received wisdom that tends to be associated with friendship. However, if you need some ideas to get going, there are some hints and tips. Friendship is a much under-rated relationship. Increased loneliness, reduced family size and changed demographics all suggest that it may be on the up. Don’t get left behind.
Close Friend 1 – KP
MH I had two very close friends at school. Let’s start with KP. He was very different from me – more exotic. His mother was Malay (?) and his father posh British. They sold things on a stall in different markets. They lived in a second-floor flat in Knightsbridge/Kensington, which had a great view over the surrounding parks and houses. KP was bright; but also artistic. He played the trumpet, for example. He was not very sporty. We spent much time together at school and visited each other’s homes frequently. We supported each other; but mostly we enjoyed each other’s company. We both did National Service; but true to form KP did the Russian course and I became a 2nd Lieutenant. We both went to Cambridge to study modern languages; but at different colleges. I was sporty and he was arty. We still met up; but saw less of each other than at school. I then went to work for Shell Oil in the Congo and KP became a school teacher. We kept in contact via letters. That’s how I learned from his brother, that KP contracted hepatitis and died as a result. I never understood why or how. I never knew where he was buried. I never saw his family again. All these things remain regrets; but I still remember KP with great affection.
Not So Close Friend 2 – CP
CJ. CP Hi! Re-reading my most recent e-mail, I feel it was a bit peremptory. Not so much the failure to accept your kind invitation to lunch; but more my failure to take account of your possible preferences as to the kind of friendship in which we might indulge. I simply noted the options, which suggested themselves to me – those of ‘friend’ and ‘family friend’. Here are some additional options from Wikipedia, which we might consider. [These appear later in the Post, along with CJ’s comments]
CP None of Wikipedia’s additional definitions seems to fit the bill, which takes us back to your original choice between ‘friends’ and ‘family friends’. Both are arguably unsatisfactory on the obvious grounds that we don’t really like each other very much (and family friends are usually defined as people outside a family who become friends with that family) so I propose that we should be content just to call ourselves ‘cousins’, which has the advantage of being concise and true and implies nothing about levels of affection, admiration or anything else, but with each recognising the strengths and weaknesses of the other. It is our cousinhood and geographic proximity that bring us together. For my part, I very much enjoyed our last, low-key little get-together, and would happily do something similar from time to time, preferably with Paola. In the past we have each entertained the other with a full meal, but if you would now rather stop at coffee and biscuits, that’s fine. Even though all we really have in common is our surname, the Long tie is quite a strong tie; it’s interesting to keep up to date with family news, and to share that news face to face seems to me more civilised than doing it by email. Coffee some time? What say you? CP
CJ Thanks for the ‘What sort of friends are we or not e-mail’? Very interesting.A couple of comments.Sorry that none of Wikipedia’s additional definitions seems to fit the bill or indeed seems to have been of any help. I have tried my own Wiki medicine – see later. I agree that my original alternatives for our relationship of ‘friends’ or ‘family friends’ are both unsatisfactory. As you say, we don’t really like each other very much, although I don’t dislike you and I think you are ‘good value’, although I often don’t share the particular value in question. Also, that family friends are usually defined as people not of a family; but who become friends with that family. I like your idea that we should be content just to call ourselves ‘cousins’, which as you point out has the advantage of being concise and correct. In addition, cousin implies nothing about levels of affection, admiration or anything else. Recognising the strengths and weaknesses of the other is not excluded. As you rightly claim, it is cousinhood and geographic proximity, which bring us together. However, I would leave open as to what we make of it. It seems to me still possible for it to go either way. Indeed, in the past, it has gone negatively, bringing out our more unfriendly aspects. What excludes the reverse? I also am pleased to have taken part in our last little get-together and would, like you, be pleased to do something similar from time to time. P’s presence would depend on her. I find full meals, in the absence of other guests (and sometimes, even then) a bit of a strain. Stylistic, life-style and other differences become a bit stressful (no doubt I am not the only one to suffer so, I can stress others with the best). You are a story teller and I am an analyst. We are both quite good in our own ways; but they do not meet and frustration ensues. Why tempt the devil?
Yes, I would rather stop at coffee and biscuits, at this point in time and I am glad you agree. I also think that although all we really have in common is our surname, the L*** tie is quite strong, albeit from times past. Also, that it’s interesting to keep up to date with family news, such as it is – generally rather thin. Coffee would be nice; but no hurry. When do you suggest?
HERE’S TAKING MY OWN WIKIMEDICINE:
- A friend is a person with whom one has a relationship of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations, as in ‘she’s a friend of mine’. CJ What mutual affection we have is more than modest. Certainly exclusive of sexual relations; but not of family ones. The modesty thereof makes the point redundant. More like – ‘He’s not really much of a friend of mine’.
- A friend is a companion, boon companion, bosom friend, best friend, close friend, intimate, confidante, confidant, familiar, soul mate, alter ego, second self, shadow, playmate, playfellow, classmate, schoolmate, workmate, ally, comrade, associate, as in ‘she’s my boon companion’ CJ None of these terms apply to us. More like – ‘He’s certainly not my boon companion’.
- A person whom you know well and whom you like a lot, but who is usually not a member of your family, as in ‘she’s my best, oldest friend – we’ve known each other since we were five’. CJ I’ve known you since you were 5 ball right; but II don’t really know you well and like you only a somewhat. More like ‘We know each other as cousins, neither more nor less’.
- A person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations as in ‘she’s a friend of mine; we were close friends.’ More like – ‘We are not close friends, perhaps unclose’.
- A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts, as in ‘she’s someone I’ve known for a long time. CJ I trust you; but the scope of the trust may be limited and but little applied. Just not too sure eitherway. Not much actual experience. I imagine that you think of yourself as ‘honourable’ or some such and I would agree. More like – ‘I trust him in his own way.’
- A person whom one knows; an acquaintance, as in ‘she’s someone with whom I am well-acquainted. More like – ‘CJ Quite well-acquainted’.
- A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade, as in ‘she is a feminist like me.’ More like – ‘If there are 2 sides to anything, one of us would be on each’.
- A person whom you like and enjoy being with, as in ‘she and I have fun together.’ CJ Actually, we do have our fun moments; but by exception and only very rarely. More like – ‘He’s not much fun’.
- A person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity), as in ‘she joined me a climate change march’. CJ The reverse. I doubt our causes overlap. More like – ‘See you on the other side of the barricades’.
- People who are aware of how retarded you are and still manage to be seen in public with you. People who make you laugh till you pee your pants. People who cry for you, when one of your special items disappear. When you don’t have enough money to get an ice cream, they chip in. Knows all of your internet passwords. Who would never make you cry just to be mean, as in ‘She cried for me’. CJ You consider me a loose cannon and so do not invite your friends to meet me. This is not necessarily a criticism. More like – ‘ Pass’.
- A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard, as in ‘she is close to my heart’. CJ More like – ‘He is unclose to my heart’.
- The definition of friend is someone who is on your side, as in ‘she is always there for me’. CJ More like – ‘Have at you!’
- A friend is consistently willing to put your happiness before your friendship. It’s said that ‘good advice grates on the ear’, but a true friend won’t refrain from telling you something you don’t want to hear, something that may even risk fracturing the friendship, if hearing it lies in your best interest. A true friend will not lack the mercy to correct you when you’re wrong. A true friend will confront you with your drinking problem as quickly as inform you about a malignant-looking skin lesion on your back that you can’t see yourself, as in ‘you’re a pain in the butt’. CJ More like – ‘We certainly do confrontation and no mistake’.
- A true friend won’t ask you to compromise your principles in the name of your friendship or anything else. Ever, as ‘in you’ve got it completely wrong; but it’s your call.’ CJ More like without the ‘your call’.
- A true friend inspires you to live up to your best potential, not to indulge your basest drives, as in ‘she is an inspiration to me’. CJ More like – ‘We bring out the worst in each other’. I agree these hints and tips are not all that helpful; but I have made the best of them. I think that they identify good friendship features; but which could be simplified and made more easily useable. I will try to re-render them with this intent,
Comment: Although helpful to some extent, the Wikipedia hints and tips are too long and too complex. So, I have had a go, with the help of the ever-faithful Internet to come up with something a bit simpler, as follows:
General – Close, dyadic reciprocal relationship with a shared history, a sense of commitment and a general enjoyment of each other’s company. (Berndt)
Types – utility, pleasure, good/virtue. (Aristotle)
Attributes – physical, mental and social. States – intensity, emotion, frequency.
LET’S TRY SOMETHING SIMPLER
What is needed now in someone to try it out on someone else……..
Not So Close Friendship 2 (Continued)
At least I can rely on CP to come up with something interesting and here is it -CP
CJ – thanks for your latest email, which I presume is still searching for words to describe the nature of the friendship between us. Each successive email confirms you as the analyst and me as the teller of tales (dabbler in words might be more accurate) and I might soon be out of my depth.
Exactly. Searching for words hits the nail on the head; but the words need to have meaning and witness to the truth of our friendship experience (such as it might be). Out of your depths with respect to words? Pull the other one.
The very word ‘friendship’ gives me a problem. The ‘friend’ words – friend, friendly, friendship, befriend – are axiomatically always positive, surely inappropriate for us, so I prefer ‘relationship’, which admits of all attitudes from loving to loathing, to ‘friendship’. (If I were to introduce you with one word, that word would be ‘cousin’, equally flexible.)
I have a similar problem, although I do experience passing ‘friend-like’ thoughts/feelings with respect to you. I must say, though, that they generally do not last for long (forgive the pun).’Relationship’ and ‘Cousin’ are certainly better place-holders, at least at this point in time. More agreement, methinks!
Every major difference between two people makes it more difficult to establish a true, stable friendship, and I’m sure you’ll accept that there are many basic differences between us – too many?
Could not agree more. For example, politics, economics, morality, aesthetics, to name but a few; but certainly enough to be getting on with and to make the point, although our differences might be worth exploring, as we are doing elsewhere, with respect to politics.
Berndt’s general description of friendship hardly relates at all to us.
‘Close’ is manifestly wrong.
Is/was Berndt a philosopher? If so, that might explain why he uses two words, including the arcane ‘dyadic’, to say the same thing. Or is there a subtle difference?
Agreed yet again. The idea of ‘close’ makes me feel positively queasy, although I find this a curious feeling to have in this context. Berndt was a social psychologist, specialising in relationships. Of course, he needs to conceptualise the latter, possibly prompting your view that he may have been a philosopher.
Sense of Commitment. Tricky. Mine is suddenly developing, changing from hedonism to duty, but it’s probably not the same as yours.
I find your current development from hedonism to duty fascinating and well-worth articulating. Some of this is coming through via your GWies posts. I am keen for you to continue developing and articulating. My sense of commitment is very wide-ranging – to myself, in terms of the meaning of my life (such as it is), to friends and family (such as they are), to groups of activists – sports (tennis, badminton, cycling etc) (such as they may be sustained), politics (party members), campaigning groups (petitioners, demonstrators etc) (such as they might cohere). I guess I am over-committed………
Shared History. What does B mean? Our birth link (shared grandparents) is not in doubt, but there we divert. Shared experiences, especially sad ones, can be a basis for forming friendships, but not in our case: I have yet to suffer true sorrow or grief.
Shared experiences or some such. I think that we do share history – elite university education, employment by major companies, change of career in mid-life. Our diversion is in what we made of these shared experiences. To be developed.
General Enjoyment of each other’s Company. Change general to occasional.
Agreed; but worth a bit of this analyst’s attention…..watch this space.
Types. Pleasure, if anything.
Types – utility, pleasure, good/virtue and in combination.
Attributes. Mental, ditto.
Attributes – physical, mental and social and in combination.
States – intensity, emotion, frequency and in combination.
Keep at it!
Will do! Can’t wait.
Couple Relationship 3
Jacques and Diana/John and Doris were 2 couples, living in London but quite near to each other – East Finchley and Muswell Hill, respectively. Diana and John were both academics, UCL and Hertford, respectively. They were also quite sporty. In fact, they were jogging partners, meeting once a week for jogging/talking. It is probably fair to say they were friends.
John and Jacques were certainly friendly, but probably not friends. John was too academic and abstract for Jacques, who was more ‘hands-on’. They did nothing together outside the couple relationship. They shared no common interests.
The couples socialised quite a bit. Sometimes in Muswell Hill with other John and Doris’ friends. But mostly, in East Finchley as a 4-some. Jacques preferred doing the entertaining. He served tapas-like suppers. Lots of dishes, all interesting and tasty. He was a good host.
John found Jacques a bit of a quandry. He could get so far with him, but no further. For example, Israel visits were mentioned to explain Jacques’ frequent absences, but no more, other than that they were ‘secretive’. Jacques never drank alcohol…… he’d drunk too much when younger. Had he been an alcoholic – who knows? He knew self-defence procedures – how to break the neck of an attacking dog, for example, by forcing its jaws apart, using one’s hands. He demonstrated how one evening, bending one of John’s fingers rather badly in the process. If he had been in the military, where and doing what? Answer came there none.
Doris and Jacques got on well. Both were practical. Both were collectors. Both were gardeners.
So, what is this all about? Diana is writing a book about Jacques and their life together. She has asked me to read the drafts and offer my reactions and comments. I intend to do so, but my primary motivation is to get to know Jacques a bit better. Also, to satisfy my curiosity. Better late than never……. Can’t wait.