On Relationships: My Definition Of Friendship

One of the things that is always on my mind is relationships. How do they form? What causes them? What dissolves them? Why are they easier for some and not so for others? How do you maintain them? When is it best to end them? And most importantly, how do all these questions apply to me? And how can I be better at relationships?

Damn… Why did you have to start this off with so many questions? Now you got me asking them!

A lot of questions to take in, I know, which is probably why I’m going to break up this topic into parts. I’m not big on wordy blog posts. Most of you readers already know this, so why should I start now? I guess like any pop psychologist would say, “let’s start at the beginning” and discuss friendships.

Let me begin by saying that I don’t have many friends. As a matter of fact, I’ll go one step further and say I have only one friend: my best friend and wife, Claudia. The two or so others in my life are more akin to buddies and/or comrades at arms. Before anyone I know takes offense to this statement, I’ll try my best to define what a friend means to me. I’m a bit of a romantic and extremely idealistic. My escapism through TV shows and books in my childhood may have played a part in this.

Regardless, as unattainable as my ideals may seem, Claudia came into my life and fitted those parameters to a capital T. This may have also been the reason our relationship developed further, from friendship into something more. Like the movie “When Harry Met Sally” and from personal experience, I don’t think men and women can just be friends.

But Julio, What if the guy or the girl is gay and there is no possibility of any sexual attraction between them?

Ok, you got me. I was using a heterosexual-only paradigm. It’s what I know so pardon my neglect of other possibilities and/or factors. Let me elaborate on my hypothesis. If there is a possibility of any physical attraction between a party of two members, regardless of gender, who are trying to keep the relationship at a serious but platonic level; in all likelihood, that relationship will develop into something more than platonic or it will eventually break off into a relationship that is more distant.

Will you get to the point already! What is a friend to you dagnabbit?!

Without further ado, my definition of a friend is someone you can count on. Someone you can lean on for moral support when you’re down. Someone you can trust with all your secrets, who you can be completely honest with, your warts and all, without fear of judgement. Someone you trust implicitly and with whom you have your guard down because there is no ulterior motive or machinations that you need fear. Basically, what most people would call a best friend.

To me, anyone who falls short of my expectations listed above are buddies. And what is wrong with that? A buddy is someone who you choose to hang out with to have a good time. You may not trust them with your dirty laundry, but that doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy their company. Buddies are OK. Just don’t have “friend-like” expectations with them right off the bat or you may be heading down the road to bitter disappointment. That doesn’t mean that a buddy can’t become a friend or a friend won’t downgrade to buddy status. People change. As people change, so do their set values and definitions of their relationships. Like life, relationships are dynamic and can be uncertain. It isn’t a math problem that can be figured out with just pure logic. Faith and trust also play a part. The volatile concoction that is a friendship is what makes it so valuable.

I feel most people overuse the word friend so much that it has lost its meaning and luster. A friend should be someone who matters in your life. Someone who holds a special place in your heart, because you get to choose who your friends are, whereas you’re born into the family you have.

This seems like a good point to end part one of my series on relationships. I’ll keep all related articles linked to each other so it’ll be easy to follow the evolution of my thought process on this topic. Stay tuned.

Related links:
On Relationships: Know When To Hold Them, Know When To Fold Them

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23 thoughts on “On Relationships: My Definition Of Friendship

  1. Now this is an interesting article. It’s really deep and thought out; I really like it.

    Just when you think everyone has gone shallow, someone will say something profound and meaningful.

    I’m trying to process your thoughts on male-female “friendships” and how they either delve deeper or grow apart, and I’m not sure if I disagree, although I know a few once-couples who are quite close as friends despite the fact that they’re broken up. I guess I just don’t know how that works.

    There is a pretty big distinction between friend and “buddy,” isn’t there? Me, I use the word friend quite loosely to mean someone with whom I get along, like, and share stories/experiences with, but here you’ve defined it as something much more meaningful.

    In your definition, I have one friend. I call her a “twin” because we’re so close that it’s ridiculous. Like the kind of person who can not only finish your sentences, but can read your facial expression, body language, and whatever, and speak your thoughts for you, translate anything you’re trying to say, etc.

    I only have one friend. ;______;

    Arrrrgh. This male-female thing is really getting me. I have a couple of males – like two – with whom I am quite close…. although I don’t know that they would make the “friend” cut. I would say it’s damn close….
    …..Does the possibility of sexual attraction on the part of one person or the other negate the possibility of friendship because of some form of ulterior motive?
    ……………..I’ve always seen the whole “we’re friends but I’d totally sleep with you” as a sort of betrayal…but always thought that’s because I’m an ass, I’m weird, and I have issues.

    On that note…What do you think?
    Does sexual attraction negate the possibility of friendship?
    *bangs head on desk* ;______;

    • LOL.. It’s quite a humdinger I know. Based on my personal experience and my ideals I don’t think that people that are attracted to each other can “just” be friends. I believe that there will come a time when a line may get crossed or there is a moment of awkwardness where the threshold or boundaries of the relationship have to be discussed. But again this is my own take on relationship. I know a few guys who say they have a lot of female friends (coincidentally they used to date and despite the breakups they maintain contact) and I have a sister in-law who seems to have a lot of guy friends. Whether they figured something out that I haven’t or they’re just fooling themselves that there isn’t an undercurrent of something more in the metaphorical air of their relationship is anyone’s guess.

      • Oooh.. More great thoughts!

        First, Julio, would you agree with the quote I put on my related article on Y3B? It would seem that, within your parameters, the people that “know our song” are more of buddy types, however close to us they may be. This brings to question the idea of work-out buddies (people that keep you engaged)…

        With regards to having friends of the opposite sex, I know it is doable but lines are sometimes crossed. Maybe you have to set boundaries or just bite your tongue? Who knows.. This can spawn a few follow-up articles for us all.

        I blame social media for helping to cheapen the word “friend”. If I launched a social networking platform, I’d certainly recognize the degrees of separation and intangible connections/similarities therein. The inner circle approach, maybe?…

      • I think that song comment is more like the old argument, “a square can be a rectangle but a rectangle can’t be a square”. Like the square in my premise a friend is more than a buddy so both of them can know the song in your heart but a buddy can’t (or won’t most likely) go out of his way to further discuss that song with you. Buddies don’t want to get involve. Friends do. Not only will they sing the song in your heart back to you but they might introduce other songs to you that can complement the ones you have and further develop your palette or character of being. I hope I’m making sense. sometimes when you speak in metaphors the message can get lost in translation LOL.

      • I get exactly what you are saying!

        Just to play devil’s advocate, though, I think it’s not always a matter of will or ability. Timing is a big factor and I find that some people take things too personally, as if being a friend means you are some sort of idol or permanent fixture in their lives. THAT is rather unfair and makes people become anti-social, cause it’s less burdensome.

        As for your take on the song metaphor, pretty darn awesome stuff there! I was thinking the same thing. Good friends know how to compliment us, perhaps employing the insultant/consultant model common to us more “Spartan types”…

      • I don’t see how you’re playing devil’s advocate. Friendship is a two-way street and if there is a reasonable excuse for why one friend can’t be there for another at a moment’s notice, the other friend (being a friend) should be able to see this. Maybe not right away (emotions aren’t logical), but definitely when that friend has had a chance to process. I think you keep going with your paradigm where one person is expecting way too much from the other. That isn’t an ideal foundation for friendship and falls under the buddy category in my book (or under the category of a buddy who is about to be excommunicated altogether if some agreements regarding boundary issues don’t get met)

  2. Lots of great thoughts here!

    I mostly think of most, if not all, my friends as “buddies”.. But I try to port my terminology to what most will understand. Thus, I may call someone a friend but they may be a buddy, and a buddy thus is more of an acquaintance.

    What I don’t agree with is the high level of expectations you have for friends. We can very well have people we can trust with our dirty laundry, but maybe their conflicting worldviews may prevent us from venting about stuff that’s likely to rub them the wrong way. I also feel most are in friendships for selfish reasons.

    Examples…

    “What’s in it for ME?”

    “You HAVE to see it my way.”

    “I need attention NOW.”

    You get the idea. It’s not always that we value with time. Perhaps we put a greater value on other priorities or escapism? I find I sometimes set the bar too high and create dependences I can’t nurture long-term…

    • I whole-heartedly agree with the dependency thing (I myself am not innocent of this in the past, present and in the possible future I may still be guilty of selfishness). That’s why I use the term buddy for your definition of friend. I like to make distinctions in my relationships, more so for my own state of mind than anyone else’s. I do have high expectations of a friend (I’ve said as much about my romantic tendencies in this here blog) and that is why I need to separate my buddies from my friends. I don’t come with a filter, I really don’t (not right out the gate at least). I need to know how I need to be around what people. Who do I need to walk around egg shells with, who can I be my most blunt opinionated self without any fear of a negative outcome (though honestly this is most likely an impossible scenario as things can always be taken the wrong way or out of context) and who I can be most open with and/or stick to just water-cooler topics?

      I recently had to end a relationship with someone who I thought could be a friend because we touched upon one of two the biggest taboos that YOU SHOULD NEVER DISCUSS (politics and religion). I wasn’t guilty of the initiation of this conversation. This buddy of mine loved to talk politics and religion and a good amount of times we had agreements. He himself kept questioning his pentecostal beliefs and the idea of God. Then one day, during the last Presidential run he became an avid fan of John McCain and Sarah Palin and we had it out.

      To make a long story short, I don’t think I can be friends with anyone who believes in Sarah Palin. In my mind, there is so much that is wrong with her that anyone who believes even a kernel of the bullshit that she spouts can’t be a person that I associate with on a regular basis.

      • Indeed.

        There are certainly taboos to be avoided if you want to keep things civil or safe. Some hot-button topics won’t be found out until it’s too late.. And some people are going to be unsatisfied regardless…

        I guess it’s a delicate balance between being considerate and being forthcoming/direct. No one should have to walk on egg shells, be a yes man, or pretend to be someone they’re not.. But some folks expect that.

        Again, I say temper expectations and no one has to be pimp-smacked. Haha.. It also helps to avoid discussions of politics, religion, and maybe even sports. Darn fanatics. =oX

  3. Errr.. Meant to say “value friendships less”. Like you said, priorities and other human dynamics change with time. It doesn’t really mean we grow bored with friends. Can we really all expect our friends to give us their time consistently, as if regimented to interact with us on a deep level?

    With that line of thought, I would have to think, “Are truly successful too busy (or good) to have “real friends”? Great minds offer that we must die, isolating ourselves from the outside world, to push forward. Screw fashion, trends, pop culture, and pleasantries, that is for the living, they say. Live in your head more to accomplish more.

    It all raises some good thoughts… I mean, can you be highly productive AND very social/friendly at the same time? Hmmm…

  4. I think that depends on what you value in life. I don’t think the amount of time you spend with someone is a factor of whether or not they’re a friend. It’s the quality of it. To me a friend is someone who is special. A buddy is someone that you just want to have a good time with. Buddies come and go but friends stay friends no matter what. If you become more focused in your work than socializing you may risk losing some friends that’s true but that’s the risk of success. You at least buffer your feelings of desolateness with more buddies and acquaintances that you can occasionally meet up with for a quick social gaffe or similar interests (i.e., think work buddies). But that isn’t to say that you may not find friendship in such an ambition-driven lifestyle.

    As for great minds, it’s sad to say, but most of them die in isolation and alone because though they were geniuses at what they were good at, they were terrible friends and just didn’t know how to give as well as receive. To be successful and ambitious you have to unfortunately be selfish. If you can find a friend with those narrow parameters then you’ve lucked out.

    Regardless of your level of ambition or lack thereof a real friend is hard to come by.

  5. Very true stuff there. I think social media is changing things up a bit: it’s bringing the focus back to warmth, connecting and interacting with people.. So it is feasible to be successful and work-oriented without being completely isolated and/or introverted.

    Of course, if your friends are needy, you may very well have to cut them off or at explain the urgency of your work/plans/priorities. For me, it’s fun to go into hermit mode. I try to tell those closest to me so no one thinks I am ignoring them. Sadly, people tend to assume things revolve around them. Rather silly, if you ask me.

    It’s definitely easier to turn off the emotion switch if getting stuff done is your focus. I can appreciate why some people seem like they just don’t want to be bothered. ;o)

    • Very true. Communication is key to any relationship and social media is a wonderful tool to reach out to new people or stay connected to the ones already in your life. Social media has definitely brought other people into my life that I would’ve of never met otherwise so I’m all for it (though sometimes I will feel like Facebook and Twitter can be a waste of time LOL)

  6. Exactly.

    I feel social media, when leveraged properly, allows us to incorporate friendships into our workflows instead of outside. I am not suggesting a ritualistic or regimented approach to human interaction but, certainly, it helps to have a more integrated approach to things, yanno?

    Ironically, social media seems to make some people even more entrenched in their own little worlds and heads.. Like you said, it all goes back to priorities and natural inclinations. 8)

  7. Holy cow, you two can go on forever, can’t you? =P

    On that, I think people who are attracted to a gender can still be friends with that gender, pending a few things. One of the most important things to note, I think, is whether there’s any chemistry. I have plenty of “guy friends” who are attractive, witty, fun, and near-perfect, but I’m not attracted to them. Yeah, I know they’re great, but there’s just nothing there.

    On that note, most of those “guy friends” feel the same about me. Cute, funny, smart…. but nothing more.

    (I was thinking about this some yesterday. Can you tell?)

    I think the friend/buddy thing becomes a little muddled if attraction is entered into the equation. BUT it has to be there for there to be any worry in the first place.

    I even spoke to a few married couples – I have a few of those who are friends – and some are comfortable with their spouse having a friend who is of the opposite sex, some are not. (The latter is probably part due to insecurity, part due to living in reality, part due to loving their partner too much to take a chance.)

    The ones who are laugh at the idea that their spouse would so much as THINK about the person that way.

    So.

    Who knows?

    I think, perhaps, it’s just a contingent relationship.

    • Yeah we can go on for hours which is why I asked Yomar to record a podcast with me in the first place lol. I’d like to think that there are those that found a way to make that type of relationship work. And I’m not jealous by any stretch of the imagination. I just never experienced that type of relationship personally and so don’t believe it’s possible.

      I always look forward to be proven wrong. It gives me an opportunity to grow ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I think JJ summed it up for me (you should have commented before me so I could avoid getting long-winded LOL). Chemistry is that magical thing that can make or break a bond. Thing is, some folks confuse chemistry with necessity or impulses thereof. If we crave something really bad, almost anyone can come in and fill that void, which puts our other relationships into perspective. It really makes you wonder what lights that spark. Certainly, there are rules of engagement and boundaries to be considered to avoid some really awkward moments… =o]

        (And, yes, we can talk.. Now MCP episodes are MUCH shorter without me in them. LOL)

      • Bwahaha! It’s true.. I’ve done some “soul searching” and the reason I do it is to provide a sort of one-stop shop in everything I offer. I also don’t like the feeling of having loose ends so, if I’m not jotting down the next steps, I’m doing the deed right then and there! Hahaha

        Soooo… Did you miss me? It’s been insanely busy.. But very productive and fulfilling on my end! How about you? I just heard Episode 12 of MCP.. Again, I feel your pain! ^_*

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