Lessons on friendship – come remember them with me.

Aristotle - he's as real to me as anyone else.
He’s as real to me as anyone else.

One thing you’ll learn about me very quickly is that I have a relationship with ancient identities. I’ll talk about them as though they are living, breathing humans. I’ll love some of them, hate some of them. I remember my mum caught me ranting about what a piece of shit Akhenaten was. She thought I was talking about a person and was concerned. She was more concerned when I told her I was talking about an ancient Pharaoh.

Aristotle is another stand out. Sure, he was a philosopher who said pretty insightful things for his time and contributed to modern thought, but I just can’t like him.  Aris just comes across as a bit of an arsehole sometimes and I’m all like “ugh. Aris. You can’t say stuff like that about people, you entitled jerk.” Anyway, I digress (if my philosophy or history teachers are reading this – I am so sorry. You were great teachers, I was just a weird student. Lovelovelove to you).

One thing that I have to congratulate Aris for is his ideas on friendship and philia. Learning about his ideas was just so… interesting. It sunk deep into my heart and soul. Although, I still believe that you should give a piece of yourself to everyone you’ve ever known instead of investing it all into one person, I think forming a personal idea based on what Aris thinks is a good idea.

Aris saw friendship falling into three broad categories  which I’ll call  friends of ’cause-you-have-to, friends for funsies and friends of the heart.  Here’s my take on it.

Friends of ’cause-you-have-to

For these people, ‘friend’ is too strong a title. These are your acquaintances – people you work with, go to school with; grocery store clerks that you see most afternoons. These relationships exist because you’re useful to each other – you want that icecream, store clerk wants your monies – you form  relationship. That person in the office will get fired if they don’t achieve results, so will you – you form a relationship. These relationships tend to end right after that mutual need is gone.

Friends for funsies

These are friends you share common interests with. Friends you want to go see a movie with or go to a museum with. You’re both into gothic race car driving or both like watching film noir comedies. You’re friends with these people because it’s fun. They’re friends with you because it’s fun. If you think about it deep enough, you’re not really friends for the sake of each other – it just feels good to be around them. These friendships end once you stop being into the common thing that binds you together. You probably have lots of these friends in lots of places. They keep the fabric of the world in one piece

Friends of the heart

These are your REAL friends. These are deep, one on one relationships that rely on the fact that you love each other’s high moral character and virtues. There is mutual love and compassion. You want the best for them as they want the best for you. You invest in each other for the sake of one another. These friends are your soulmates – an extension of you and you’ll have very, very few of these.

Friends of the heart - the ones you want to cling on to.
Friends of the heart – the ones you want to cling on to.

As you can see, Aris was a bit of an elitist jerk. If you really read into what he thought, only those with high virtue could have real friends and the rest of the lowly would just have friends in the other two categories. He also thinks friends of the heart come with age, so us youngins are screwed.

Although the categories are pretty solidly defined and don’t seem to work when put into practice, there is some merit to it. We get upset and hurt by our ‘friends’. Offended by something someone did or said, something someone didn’t do or didn’t say. Upset that we lost someone  and don’t understand why. I think it’s often because we forget who these people are to us.

Think to yourself – am I unfairly holding this person up to standards that don’t suit the category they’re actually sitting in? Do I have the right to be upset that my friend for funsies didn’t show up to a special event? Or the friend of ’cause-you-have-to doesn’t want to see that movie?

When I can actually stick to them, these categories help me figure out how much of myself I want to share and invest in someone. Granted, I suck at holding back things and favors and love from people who probably shouldn’t get it from me – I’m not saying that’s an awful thing – but maybe some heartache can be prevented with a little thought. Maybe some fairness can be pumped into our relationships when we assess them on the levels that they’re actually at, not a higher, unreasonable standard.

Of course, there’ll be people who sit at some interface of all these categories. There’ll be people who bounce around them. That’s okay – it’s a part of life.

But don’t let people who shouldn’t be able to hurt you. Don’t judge peoples actions too harshly.

Relax. Take it easy. Share the love.

 

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One comment

  1. I’ve been rather averse to categories, especially having taken more than a few psych courses (and exposed to real world divisions). However, this might be of some help — with some practice…to keep expectations down? The insidious death of any relationship is expectation. I think we should give with all our heart, over and over. Then what about self-respect? Being taken for granted? Self-worth?

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