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#463577 - 04/02/14 08:12 PM What is a friendship?
Rich1967 Offline
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MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/17/13
Posts: 532
Loc: PA
It's been a while... sorry. Feels like 9 or more months of the year I just don't have the time needed to participate because of family obligations. If we were to do a word count on all of my PMs I am sure I would be in the 50th or higher percentile for participation smile

So I have been having some discussions for a while and some thoughts on this subject and decided now was as good a time as any to post them and see what others have to say.

For me any, and I mean any, kind of a relationship with another guy has been stressful for me from my earliest memories. I have felt so alienated from the brotherhood of man that I don't know what it means to be a man or really even thought of myself as a man. Two years ago the thought of interacting with another guy on any kind of personal level caused all kinds of physical problems for me from panic attacks to other more personal things. It was horrible.

Two years later I feel pretty good about the friendships I have developed... okay, more than good - they are awesome and I love them. Still with what feels like a lifetime of avoiding all contact on a personal level with my fellow brothers I feel lost sometimes when it comes to the "rules of the game". While I focus on friendship in the subject line my life's focus is really on what are any types of relationships between men like - father son, brothers, best friends, etc.

So far it seems like there are as many types of friends as there are people on the planet. If I were to group them it feels like there are the very casual type that are mostly cordial but not to in depth. They come and go quickly. Then there are the ones where they get intense and sometime intensely personal, but they too come and go quickly. Then there have been some that were intense but then just fizzle for some reason or another lasting from weeks to months. Then there are the ones I hold most dear and they are the ones that go from light to intensely personal depending on the conversation and seem to be long term. In order of how I described them above it's like a friend for a evening, friend for day, friend for an "event", and finally friend for... life(?).

So, aren't friendships all varying forms of commitment to one degree or another or is this the wrong way to think about them?

I ask because I have always thought of them as a commitment to a degree. If I am your friend I commit a certain amount of time and energy to maintain it. The hardest friendships for me are the ones that last a while, you talk about personal stuff so you feel close, but then end and I don't understand why. Sometimes I do understand why - time issues, run out of things to discuss or begin to disagree about many things, grow apart, etc. When I don't understand why I still go right to me being the problem. I am worthless and they have finally figured it out and want to avoid me. Two years ago these feelings of rejection were overwhelming. Now a lost friendship is more just being sad for the loss, especially if I thought them to be a close friend.

So are my struggles partly my fault in how I view friendships?
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#463579 - 04/02/14 09:04 PM Re: What is a friendship? [Re: Rich1967]
Chase Eric Offline

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Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 2354
Originally Posted By: Rich
So, aren't friendships all varying forms of commitment to one degree or another or is this the wrong way to think about them?

Friendships to me are really more about connections than commitments. A commitment is an obligation one assumes and promises to fulfill, while a friendship sort of is the opposite in a sense. When you share your heart with someone, there should be no need to prove it. You can have commitments within a friendship ("I'll pick you up at the airport at 9"), but expectations of a friendship will kill it, because the heart of another is being judged. Hearts are fragile. They cannot withstand being judged.

I wrote a poem (my only one here) about my best friend who I lost to suicide. I think it describes pretty much what our friendship was about.
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#463600 - 04/03/14 08:22 AM Re: What is a friendship? [Re: Rich1967]
Rich1967 Offline
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Registered: 07/17/13
Posts: 532
Loc: PA
So sorry about your friend. The connection you had with him sounded amazing. I am glad you had it while he was here. I hope you have many more.

Good point, friendships aren't just a commitment. If there was no connection with the other person than I wouldn't devote much time to them. So yes my friendships have all started because of the connections that were made first. The stronger the connection the more time and energy I would devote to it.

I still think the word commitment is appropriate here, but I could be convinced otherwise. I have been told that I am full of it on occasion...I am sure it will happen again laugh If one doesn't devote any time and energy to a friendship than it will die. Sometimes that is what you want. Maybe one person in the friendship is bringing the other one down and one decides to commit less of his time to it. If I reach out to someone and they consistently devote a lot of time and energy to their responses than I know they are committed to the friendship - that the connection is strong. If they consistently don't respond and/or show little effort in their responses than I think the opposite. Isn't commitment a measure of how one feels about the connection?
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#463601 - 04/03/14 08:41 AM Re: What is a friendship? [Re: Rich1967]
Chase Eric Offline

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Registered: 10/25/10
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To judge another heart by using a yardstick of actions that prove commitment will miss the truer foundations of a friendship. I avoid friendships that make me feel like I am balancing a petty register of who owes who what effort. That's not a friendship at all. It's just a business partnership using a currency of regard instead of cash.
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#463602 - 04/03/14 09:57 AM Re: What is a friendship? [Re: Rich1967]
Rich1967 Offline
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Registered: 07/17/13
Posts: 532
Loc: PA
Yeah, I guess I do judge to a degree and I should. If I am with someone who seems more interested in talking about sex and I get some creepy vibes I am going to judge him on his actions and maybe be more careful with the things I discuss with him. Am I judging his heart...no. I don't know what's going on in anyone's heart and I think we all don't know what's going on completely even in our own hearts either. I am judging his actions and adjusting mine appropriately.

I don't think my friends owe me anything, but if I get the feeling that they don't care or don't want to hear from me then why would I continue to share my heart with them? How does one tell if someone cares and is interested in sharing a connection if not through judgments based on how the other person acts around them?
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#463604 - 04/03/14 10:21 AM Re: What is a friendship? [Re: Rich1967]
Chase Eric Offline

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Just to be clear, I am making absolutely no judgements or conclusions or assessments about you, Rich - only about me and my perspectives in general. But you asked, so I chimed in and hope that's ok. I don't think there are any right or wrong answers to this. Our responses are shaped by often long and difficult personal experience that can be vastly different from one person to another.
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#463606 - 04/03/14 10:54 AM Re: What is a friendship? [Re: Rich1967]
Rich1967 Offline
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Registered: 07/17/13
Posts: 532
Loc: PA
I never took any of it personally, but thanks for checking. I know full well there are other perspectives out there that I will benefit from hearing -yours included for sure. smile I hope others chime in too. I think hearing how others feel about friendships will help me better understand how my thinking and behaviors affect my relationships moving forward. I think what I said here is still a valid question that maybe you or someone would tackle.

[I don't think my friends owe me anything, but if I get the feeling that they don't care or don't want to hear from me then why would I continue to share my heart with them? How does one tell if someone cares and is interested in sharing a connection if not through judgments based on how the other person acts around them?]

Also, is this a touchy subject? I wonder if no one wants to say anything because they will worry that a friend may be reading it?
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#463608 - 04/03/14 12:15 PM Re: What is a friendship? [Re: Rich1967]
Chase Eric Offline

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Registered: 10/25/10
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The kind of judgments of which you speak - at least for me - are not really judgments but the simple repulsion of incompatible personalities. It's like trying to bring together poles of two magnets - they either connect or repel each other, but judgment does not enter that equation. I don't think I have ever looked at someone and made a judgment that he would be a good friend - those relationships just developed without conscious decision and were held by a stronger glue than conscious assessment could provide or erode.

You raise an important topic. My relationship with the older boy who ended up molesting me started as a friendship much like a brotherhood. I trusted my little boy's heart with him. When he started in on me, I started to hate him, but stayed in his orbit. So my heart was never wrong. I suppose you could accuse hearts of not being clairvoyant. But my heart still knew sooner and more deeply than my judgment could have provided. I've learned to not stray from that heart. But just as importantly, I've learned to keep a distance from those who have strayed from their own. That, I am convinced, defines the sociopath, who is nothing more than someone who has mastered the dark art of sequestering his heart from his conscience.

Ultimately, people are attracted to people who like themselves. And again that self-respect is nothing a person can develop by conscious decision or self-judgment. I suppose if anyone were to ask me the secret of developing close friendships, I'd bring it down to that. When you love yourself, you are charged like a strong magnet to attract others.

Great topic, and thanks for bringing it up.
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#463618 - 04/03/14 02:26 PM Re: What is a friendship? [Re: Chase Eric]
Rich1967 Offline
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Registered: 07/17/13
Posts: 532
Loc: PA
Have you ever had that feeling that you might be on the same page with someone but you don't know it.

So despite some terminology issues I think I get what you are saying. I too would not look at someone and think they would make a good friend. That thought alone is quite humorous. Connections are the key for you it seems. For me that just feels like one piece of it. It's the starting point. If I put myself out there to connect with others internally I evaluate all those interactions and the ones that have the most pull are the ones that I will gravitate to naturally. I will continue to reach out to those individuals because the interactions are cool and not just for me but seemingly for them as well. For me this takes effort. I have to carve out time for this or it wouldn't happen. Don't get me wrong here... it's not a chore. I am highly motivated to do that work because of the potential friendship that may ensue which could be rewarding for both of us. So I explore the connection - why do we connect so well. At some point those connections grow to be more than that. You start to care about the other person on a deeper level. I become concerned about their well being. I care about them and they mean something to me. I would do more for them when they are in need.

So I know this is taking a microscope to it and I don't consciously think this all through with each friend I have but taking a closer look at it now I think this is what goes on for me. When cars run it's great, but sometimes you need to know a bit about what goes on under the hood in order to keep them running great. The less you know about it the harder it may be to keep them running well. Knowing what goes on with friendships seems to fit that analogy.

Putting myself in the light of your understanding - have I strayed from my heart in the above analysis? I don't think so. I think it has to be a balance between the head and the heart. What if you have a friendship where your heart tells you the other person isn't into it, but they've told you otherwise? I could see the head and the heart misreading something for many reasons.

Originally Posted By: Chase Eric
When you love yourself, you are charged like a strong magnet to attract others.


Yes, that is key too. I have written some stuff on love in the forums as well.

Thanks so much for your perspective.
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#463711 - 04/05/14 04:59 PM Re: What is a friendship? [Re: Chase Eric]
BraveFalcon Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/25/13
Posts: 1231
Loc: The ATL

Hi Rich and Eirik. Interesting topic and one that I had to think on for a while. I think the question, "What is a friendship" is one that could have a lot of different answers depending on who you ask. Even though the answers might be different for different people, no one person's answer would be necessarily wrong. It's kind of relative really, because I think friendship means different things to different people.

It is interesting how there are varying degrees of friendship between people and different people seem to be capable of different levels of friendship for different reasons. I have a small handful of friends whom have been in my life for over 10 years and probably always will be. My best friend has been friends with me since we were in 9th grade. (Way back in the school year of 1989-1990.) smile I've also had friends who were in my life because they and I were coworkers and whom I'd become at times very close with outside of work but whom I mostly lost touch with either when they switched jobs or one of the two of us moved away. Although, thanks to the advent of Facebook, I haven't completely lost touch with almost anybody from the last five or six years.

Why a small handful of friends seem to be for life and others not is difficult to say. Sometimes, it's circumstance. Sometimes it's the amount of history you have with them. Sometimes it's the amount of deeply personal information you've shared with each other. Sometimes it's common interest. Or, it can be a combination of any number of those things. My best friend and I since 9th grade have very little in common on the surface, at least when it comes to common interests. However, when we met in 9th grade, we were both relative outcasts who were both picked on frequently. Also, we both had our troubled pasts and both dealt with a lot of emotional problems. Because of that, we developed an emotional bond early on and started to build years of shared history together. In the 25 years that I've known him, our friendship has gone through lulls at times but has never been broken off or ended. Why my friendship with him and a couple of others has endured while others have not is difficult to say but there are probably a number of factors at play in that.

Originally Posted By: Chase Eric
Ultimately, people are attracted to people who like themselves. And again that self-respect is nothing a person can develop by conscious decision or self-judgment. I suppose if anyone were to ask me the secret of developing close friendships, I'd bring it down to that. When you love yourself, you are charged like a strong magnet to attract others.


That makes me difficult to explain then. I'm not a person who likes himself at all, let alone who loves himself. However, wherever I go, whatever I do, everyone seems to like me a lot. Not trying to brag, they just do. I can't imagine why. Peace,

Ken

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