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Author Topic: Flamekeeping - friendship  (Read 4593 times)
HeartShadow - Cutethulhu
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« Topic Start: September 29, 2010, 03:30:04 pm »

(the hard part was not writing an entire book on the subject - maybe for the next project!)

Friendship

We all need friends.  Have friends.  It starts when a child barely starts walking and talking, and they follow another child and imitate them.  It's easy at that age.  Someone lives nearby, you play together and you're friends, and that's all there is to it.  But it gets more complicated as we get older, and more intricate.  It never becomes less necessary, though.  And how we treat the people around us and create friendships colors our lives.

There's a trend right now for people to put the most value of relationship upon the romantic ones.  Friendship itself, especially between people of opposite sexes, is strange.  Weird.  Sexually charged.  In fiction, a regular friendship is hard to even find, and when it is found, there are almost always people that truly believe that friendship means they're sexually involved behind the scenes, or should be.

We don't respect friendship like we should.  It is a bond of love, though it is not romantic love.  But we need our friends.  Without them, we find ourselves adrift, lost.  A romantic partner isn't enough human contact.  No one person can be everything for another.

The problem is, we have no standards for friendship.  No rules.  We have rules for romantic partnerships, and counseling when things go wrong, and standards for what a healthy or unhealthy relationship is supposed to look like.  We don't have that for friendship.  There aren't rules as to what is a friendship as opposed to an acquaintance.  No understanding of where boundaries are.  And while I'd never say that all friendships should be identical, the fact that there are absolutely no standards makes it very hard to know when a relationship is healthy or not.

Yes, it's possible to have unhealthy friendships.  Very possible – I've never had an unhealthy romantic relationship, but I've had multiple unhealthy friendships that served me quite poorly.  But there's no recourse for that.  No sense of understanding or community for the problem.  There's nothing.  And yet, we all have more friendships than romantic partnerships in our lives.  There are no limits but that of time and energy as to the number of friends a person can have at a time.  Friendships are critical to how we go through the world.

And yet – it's never discussed.  There are no places to go to meet people when looking for friends.  There are no rules for how to meet people in a non-romantic sense.  In fact, the assumption is that romance is desired, and trying to meet people for non-romance is viewed as weird.  We just don't have any ideas as to how to meet people outside of the workplace.  Starting up a conversation with someone of the opposite sex at a coffeeshop is viewed as flirting and treated accordingly.  There's no easy way to make friends.

Even when we do find ways to make friendships, there aren't any clear standards.  No lines.  And while it's true that open communication solves a lot of problems, I somehow doubt I'm ever going to see people going out to friend-meeting places with checklists to make sure everyone's working with the same set of assumptions.  Nor do I think that would be healthy.  Yet we still need to communicate and have standards for ourselves and others.

It is unfortunately easy for our desire for friendship to let us be taken advantage of.  And while I know that keeping score in a friendship sounds wrong, at some level we do it anyway.  We need to.  It's self-preservation.  Our standards slip the harder it is for us to find friends, but we still have them, and we should.  Because it's not enough to have friends.  We also need to be friends.  We need to give, not just take.  We need to learn how to care for each other as well as ourselves.

Why does all this matter?  Why is friendship something so important to me?  Because it is friend to friend and neighbor to neighbor that communities are formed, and community to community to create nations.  Nation to nation to create a world of people.  How we treat those we are close to is primal.  If we cannot get that right, if we cannot build friendships and bridges one to another, then we have failed as people.  If we cannot be friends, one to another, we cannot be anything.

How we treat those we care for matters.  When we mistreat our friends, we say that they are worthless.  When we allow ourselves to be mistreated, we label ourselves as lesser.  Both of these are errors in understanding.  There is no greater or lesser in friendship.  There is caring and understanding, or there is nothing at all.  If we do not love our friends, if we do not care about their happiness and well-being, we are not friends.  We are users.

Hand to hand and person to person, we are linked.  How we treat that linkage and each other touches everything.
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« Reply #1: September 29, 2010, 06:46:32 pm »

(the hard part was not writing an entire book on the subject - maybe for the next project!)


Without our friends we are unable to grow, without being a friend we never succeed in growing.
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« Reply #2: September 29, 2010, 07:01:24 pm »


There is this saying I like very much, that says that friends are the family we choose for ourselves.
I am very fond of my friends and close to them.
This includes internet friends. By that I do not mean 500 followers on FB, tho.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #3: September 29, 2010, 11:53:05 pm »



Rarely do we tell our friends what they mean to us, or show them the appreciation we feel for them. I have been trying to do so myself, but it seems awkward, especially with opposite-sex friends, as you mentioned.

On a side note, I would like to request study questions for your essays.  I've been trying to keep up with them, but I'm never sure how to respond. I'm slow and need starter material. (Not that you need to go back and do so for existing ones, but maybe in some of those upcoming?)
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HeartShadow - Cutethulhu
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« Reply #4: September 30, 2010, 12:02:07 pm »

Rarely do we tell our friends what they mean to us, or show them the appreciation we feel for them. I have been trying to do so myself, but it seems awkward, especially with opposite-sex friends, as you mentioned.

On a side note, I would like to request study questions for your essays.  I've been trying to keep up with them, but I'm never sure how to respond. I'm slow and need starter material. (Not that you need to go back and do so for existing ones, but maybe in some of those upcoming?)

People actually use the study questions?Huh?

I can do that. Cheesy
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« Reply #5: September 30, 2010, 12:10:55 pm »

People actually use the study questions?Huh?

I can do that. Cheesy

I'll just bet that you can! No, I'm not going to do them for you-it's your book!
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« Reply #6: February 14, 2011, 09:02:44 pm »

There are no places to go to meet people when looking for friends.  There are no rules for how to meet people in a non-romantic sense.  In fact, the assumption is that romance is desired, and trying to meet people for non-romance is viewed as weird.  We just don't have any ideas as to how to meet people outside of the workplace.  Starting up a conversation with someone of the opposite sex at a coffeeshop is viewed as flirting and treated accordingly.  There's no easy way to make friends.

I feel lucky to say that this is not the case in Lansing, Michigan. I have met most of my close friends through networking groups, or friends I have met at networking groups. There are no shortage of those around here. It started with "Tweet-Ups" which is a monthly gathering to meet people in the area that are on Twitter that you might follow. Then someone started a weekly morning breakfast get-together. Then they started a weekly after work happy hour get-together. There are few others too.

Basically, if you live here and are in your mid 20s through early 40s, you have no excuse not to meet people, because they are very social and friendly. These groups don't just help people make close friends though, they help build a strong community of individuals that join together and do good things for the city. It makes a city of a 110,000 people feel like a small town.

My point is, if you are looking to meet people, get out and see what kind of regular networking groups there are. If there aren't any, consider starting one. You never know who you might meet.
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« Reply #7: February 16, 2011, 03:46:26 pm »

My point is, if you are looking to meet people, get out and see what kind of regular networking groups there are. If there aren't any, consider starting one. You never know who you might meet.

Acutally this topic is becoming rather relevant for me at the moment.
I try - like heck - to network better, or to start to do it at all.
And this in all of my 'identities'. (Nooo, not yet that bad... *lol*)

I try to keep in touch with co-workers, that left the company and it turns out to be tough.
And I try to build up a network for my author-self. Because alone you'll achieve pretty much nothing.

Of course I shouldn't forget about 'normal' social networks. SO and I are too introvert - both of us, yeah, great, I know.  Cheesy

We all need friends and to make them and to keep them is work for some of us.
But a worthwile one.
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'You had to repay, good or bad. There was more than one type of obligation. That’s what people never really understood.….Things had to balance. You couldn’t set out to be a good witch or a bad witch. It never worked out for long. All you could try to be was a witch, as hard as you could.' Terry Pratchett 'Lords and Ladies'

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« Reply #8: February 16, 2011, 06:08:11 pm »

to keep them is work for some of us.

This is true. I was thinking only a few months ago that I didn't have time for any more friends. That sounds pretentious, I realize, but the fact is that friendship requires a certain amount of time commitment. I feel bad when I don't communicate with my friends regularly, like every few days, and try to see them each at least once a week, as they all live within a few miles.

But I have other things to do beside just be social, and they all have their own schedules as well, so I don't always get to see them as often as I like. I continue to make new acquaintances, but I don't go out of my way to make new friends as I don't spend enough time with the ones I have already.
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« Reply #9: February 17, 2011, 08:54:24 am »

This is true. I was thinking only a few months ago that I didn't have time for any more friends. That sounds pretentious, I realize, but the fact is that friendship requires a certain amount of time commitment. I feel bad when I don't communicate with my friends regularly, like every few days, and try to see them each at least once a week, as they all live within a few miles.

But I have other things to do beside just be social, and they all have their own schedules as well, so I don't always get to see them as often as I like. I continue to make new acquaintances, but I don't go out of my way to make new friends as I don't spend enough time with the ones I have already.

See, I see that as being honest and reasonable - you KNOW how much time and energy you have, and you don't want to over-commit or shortchange people.  I don't see that as pretentious - I see it as honoring the people you're already friends with and the people you meet with honest expectations.
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« Reply #10: February 27, 2011, 11:02:36 am »

...
My point is, if you are looking to meet people, get out and see what kind of regular networking groups there are. If there aren't any, consider starting one. You never know who you might meet.

This is easier said than done, though, especially if, like me, one has social anxiety.  I do have medication I can take specifically for the anxiety, but I'd hate to be "drugged" just so I could make new friends.

So, what should one do to encourage friendships if one is too shy/anxious/introverted to go out and approach people?
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« Reply #11: February 27, 2011, 01:27:22 pm »

This is easier said than done, though, especially if, like me, one has social anxiety.  I do have medication I can take specifically for the anxiety, but I'd hate to be "drugged" just so I could make new friends.

So, what should one do to encourage friendships if one is too shy/anxious/introverted to go out and approach people?

when you figure it out, let me know. Tongue

More seriously, baby steps.  It's the only way I can manage ....
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« Reply #12: February 27, 2011, 02:24:19 pm »


Wanted to add my two cents:

i) I think friendship requires an overlap and parity of interests. For a good friend the most important overlap is depth, but the depth can be of a very abstract sort, eg with one friend we both share 'teh ghey' and talk in depth about it because we have similar approaches to sex and relationships (so this is obvious, concrete depth in our overlap). With another friend, we might talk superficially about Spanish stuff (I know nuts, she does a degree in it), religion (she's Christian, I'm not), etc - but we're good friends due to a shared 'abstract' depth, namely we both enjoy analysing things (whether it's about Spanish, religion, or whatever), prize freedom of individual opinion and also the fact that the opinion is really individual.

ii) By parity I mean that whatever you both think important, you both should be roughly at the same 'level'. With one friend, for example, it's just not an issue that I'm much more academically successful than he is, because while I find academic success important he doesn't - so levels don't come into it because we're not playing the same game. Whereas with another friend, previously things were highly uncomfortable because I'd gotten a place in uni and she hadn't, and both of us consider it important. It's only when she finally got a place, and so reached the same 'level', that we could talk without the previous sense of awkwardness and resentment that inhibits close friendship.

iii) I love my good friends both because they're the same as and different from me. Those differences feel like reaching into a world I'd never be able to know otherwise. I will never (well, pretty sure never) do Spanish, be a committed member of a Christian congregation, be a woman, be an atheist, be raised in the north of England, do a doctorate in Indian religion, or heck watch Titanic, etc etc. It's my friends who give me that glimpse into otherness, in a way understandable to me because of our similarities. I love them for it, and hope that's what I do for them too.
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« Reply #13: February 27, 2011, 06:37:56 pm »

So, what should one do to encourage friendships if one is too shy/anxious/introverted to go out and approach people?

Note: 'you' refers to general you, not just Veggiewolf

One idea is to go out and hope someone approaches you. Just by getting out and being around people, you'll have a better chance of meeting someone than if you stay at home. Or just practice in small talk. (Example: you go the yarn shop and say, "oh, that's pretty, what are you going to make with that?" to the lady next to you in line. Or you smile and say hello to the person next to you on the treadmill at the gym.)

Another thought is to use the internet to meet people and talk with them online a little before you meet in person. Maybe you can find a group in your area on meetup.com that interests you. I actually put an ad on Craiglist once for a cycling buddy. I went a few different 'girl dates' but only ended up staying friends with one girl.

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« Reply #14: February 28, 2011, 11:37:01 pm »


It is indeed hard to relate because I never had any friends. The whole idea of having friends was always a puzzle to me; society was always telling me I needed friends and was somehow less a person if I didn't have any.

Yes..I do go out into the real world and interact when needed but..for me I just never felt the need to be with others. I am just not certain about the concept that one needs friends.
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