What is a Friend?

Rated G

For those of you who read my blog with at least passing regularity, you know that I have few friends. Yet at the same time I often write about friends. Perhaps I need to define friends and friendship.

In my posts I do talk about friends quite often. Most of those are from a distant past. These were the friends of youth. I have not spoken with the vast majority of them in more than 20 years, some as long as 40 years. They were friends. I do not think they can be kept in the same category these days. Were I to run into any of them today, while I would be happy to see them and reminisce I would not divulge deep secrets or request aid of them.

There are a few than I have spoken with during the last 20 years, however those communications are few and far between; well less than once every three years and the conversations are always rather short, a lunch at most. These too have moved to a different category. Friends yes, but still not anyone that I would expose to hidden concerns or feel that I could count on for emotional support.

Some friendships have fallen out of favor entirely. The major one of those I have not written about yet. My quest to deal with my introversion and S.A.D. sent me to the distant past and I am working my way forward as the feelings and flow demand. Suffice to say we all had a friend or two who, for whatever reason, as fallen out of that special bond.

We all have people that we socialize with in a casual fashion, coworkers and associates. We may call them friends but they are privileged to only a subset of ourselves. We may call on them for some simple aid, such as moving day, but we do not burden them with our troubles beyond complaining about the plumbing or taxes or government. We do not use them to shore up our emotional needs beyond a laugh at a party.

It comes down to semantics perhaps, but that is what any definition is.

Past Friend: 1. Individuals that have been long out of contact. They do not know the you of today. Your emotional connection exists only in the past. 2. Individuals that have been out of contact for a reasonable period. You may encounter them occasionally. You have no deep emotional connection.

Lost Friend: Individuals were the friendship bond or trust has been broken.

Coworker / Associate / Friend Lite: Individuals that you associate with on a regular basis. You may assist each other with simple tasks outside of the normal range of association. However, there is only minimal emotional investment by either party. No secrets are divulged. These individuals are generally not sought out for emotional support.

Friend: Individuals that you maintain regular contact with through any form of communication. You engage with these individuals in casual gathers but also with more intimate, personal concerns. The connection may or may not have a sexual component. However there is a level of trust and a bond strong enough that at least some personal secrets are trusted. Each party feels that they gain some strength or comfort from the other.

So there you have some definitions. Well, my definitions anyway. Other than family almost everyone I refer to in my post falls into the Past Friends’ definition. Coworkers I generally refer to as coworkers or students at the school or some similar nomenclature. Though on occasion I may refer to them as ‘a friend,’ more or less out of writers’ license or brevity’s sake.

What I seek are friends because, frankly I have none. Not like I once had. Friends do not need to be romantic involvements, though with members of one’s sexual preference they may become just that. However I do think it would be wonderful to have some close non-intimate female friends. Covert agents feeding me information from the other side.

Often we dedicate ourselves to a single deep friend while using a support group of lesser friends and Friend Lites. Others of us find that several friends take the place of a single dedicated friend. Either approach requires that first friend. Friends take time to develop. As Bill Shakespear reminds us, “Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried . . . ” That is the key, their adoption having been tried. That takes time.

Let me close this by saying I have made some blogger buddies in recent months. I guess they would require a refined definition; they are more than Friend Lite and meet most of the criteria I have laid out for a friend. However, they lack a close proximity component. I feel that if I were physically near some of my blogger buddies we could fall right into the normally accepted definition of a friend without skipping a beat. That is certainly a good start for me. And for that, I thank you.

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