What is a friend? Dave and Andrea’s thoughts

Go read both original pieces, I’ve only quoted parts that I relate to, but I’m sure you will find your own.

snooble.dot.com: Friendship:

I’ve noticed that most times in conversation I’ll mention a casual aquaintence and preface their name with “my friend.” But is that person really my friend?

I got rid of my MySpace account months ago when I got annoyed with the fact that there were so many “friends” on my list, and I didn’t even know half of them: bands I’d never see, people I’d never meet. Social networking sites like MySpace give me no feasible way to distinguish between my best friend from high school and the person I met in the bar last week.

And even though flickr differentiates between “friends” and “contacts” there is no middle ground. There are plenty of people on my contacts that I like or respect. They are more than just contacts, but they are not my friends.

Friends know when they are needed, and they also know when to need. They know they can burden you with their problems just as easily as they can lend their shoulders to cry on. They know when to push and when to back off, and they’ll never pressure you for favors. They’ll be there when their presence is most appreciated and never ask for thanks or kudos.

Dave’s WordPress Blog: What is friendship?:

I write a blog, have since the mid 90s or so, and I sometimes write in a personal fashion, and people connect to that, which is fine, but it often creates misunderstandings that, I think, go deeply into how humans evolved, and how that evolution never anticipated a medium where a written word could be heard by so many people without a connection coming back.

This leads to a sense of familiarity, which is expected, but it can also give a sense of intimacy, even friendship, which is wrong, because what’s going on here is not friendship, although inside us many of the feelings that come from being a regular reader of a weblog are the same ones we feel as we are developing a friendship, in the world evolution designed us for. But this is not that world.

And with this comes a tough lesson, and unfortunately it seems, you only learn this by living, television doesn’t teach it, schools don’t teach it, and if you’re above a certain age, our parents didn’t teach it. You have to learn it by living, by thinking of someone as a friend, only to find out they don’t think of you as a friend. It can be devastating, I know, I’ve been there myself. But all the wishing, all the manipulation, all the determination, just serves to push the would-be friend further away. Because friendship is something you choose to do, you don’t do it out of a sense of obligation. To force someone to be a friend is to not have a friend.

…I learned a lot about friends when I got sick in 2002. I learned that a friend is someone I trust to be with me when I am at my weakest and most vulnerable. And they are people who, no matter how painful it is to see, are willing to be with me when I am so helpless and weak. If I would trust my life with you, and vice versa, we are friends. It’s not about whether you are trustworthy, or whether you are friendly, it’s the actual act of trust that is the basis of friendship. If I trust you to be truthful, then you’re a friend. If I find I must be careful how I say things, then it’s something other than friendship.

Friendship is not a state of mind, it’s an act. It’s something you do, it’s not about whether you’re good or not, it’s not a reflection of you, it’s a balanced relationship between people. That doesn’t mean it’s always balanced at every moment. Sometimes you “need a friend” and other times it’s the other way. It’s a trust that’s returned.