Are You My Friend?

Hello, friend.

Yes, friend.

Hmm. Yes – this is certainly true.

So if I’m not your friend, then who is?

So what makes him your friend?

Oh, okay. So what if me and you go to my favorite hangout spot nearby, have some food, and chat about life?

All right. I’ll meet you where you are – see you soon.

Wow, that was a lot of fun, yeah? I had no idea you were such a fascinating person.

Definitely.

Sure! Looking forward to it.

Oh, hey again.

I’ve been all right. You?

So hey, I was wondering – you mentioned a few months ago that friendship was about having a good time with people, laughing and feeling great during it. Since we shared that together, isn’t it weird that we just ignored each other’s existence afterward, considering that we’re friends now?

Oh, that’s strange. Is it because we just hung out once? What if we hung out three times?

So what if we hung out a hundred times?

Interesting. So somewhere between 5 and 100… but that sounds so arbitrary. Like, what would be the tipping point that takes us from acquaintance to friendship? The 15th hangout? The 51st?

Oh, what do you mean?

So that must mean you’re friends!

Hmm, that’s kind of sad. You guys have had so many interesting conversations and good times together for a whole year. It’s a shame to see all that vanish.

Wow, really?

So you’re saying that you both feel this, even if you haven’t explicitly told each other this?

But what about your friend from earlier? You were pretty confident in declaring that he was your friend.

Do you see him as much as you see your co-worker?

So even though you have more interactions with your co-worker each year, you’re still closer to Brandon.

So the history of that friend is what carries you forward. But what if now, you guys don’t see the world the same way, and your interests are no longer the same?

So there’s a kind of willful ignorance involved, eh?

That’s interesting.

Yeah. So is it a given that childhood friends tend to be people’s best friends?

Huh?

Oh. Have you known him for a long time?

Do you see him often?

Wait. I don’t get it. So you’ve known him for a shorter period of time than Brandon, you see him even less than Brandon, but he’s your best friend.

What do you mean by that? How does one “feel closer” to another?

That sounds easy.

Okay, but as we mentioned with the co-worker, the frequency of hangouts doesn’t define a close friend.

I get it. So if we’ve had the opportunity to hang out a bunch of times and create a lot of good memories, we’d be really close friends.

But in your diagram, I don’t see another tier that’s deeper than the one we’re talking about.

Scary? What do you mean? Aren’t all friendships supposed to be pleasant and full of good vibes?

Wait. Why on earth would you willingly do that? Shouldn’t those dark parts just be kept to yourself?

But how does acknowledging one’s flaws and weaknesses bring about deeper friendship? Won’t that kind of turn you off to one another – you know, act as a buzzkill?

I think the word used to describe this phenomenon is “vulnerability,” correct?

Intuitive openness? What do you mean by that?

Okay, I think I get the point about intuition. What do you mean by the “openness” part?

Wow, life sounds so much easier on this tier.

I like the sound of this tier. A lot.

Okay, I’m ready.

I’m going to be vulnerable with you and tell you a lot of the things I’ve been struggling with. All the flaws I’m working on, all the things that I’ve been contemplating, and then you tell me yours.

Um, I don’t know, I guess?

Sigh… I’m just trying to understand how this human friendship thing works. It all seems so complicated, so nuanced… and then you provide this framework that makes it look a lot simpler. So I’m just following it to get to the deepest level possible.

Can’t you just clarify that with your friend? Just ask him or her where you both stand at any given moment?

I like that.

It’s a bit paradoxical, isn’t it? The more intention you drive into making a friend, the less likely you’ll end up with a deeper friendship?

Gotcha.

So the more time we spend here talking about deep friendships, defining what they are and analyzing them, the less likely we’ll become friends, huh?

Thanks, I’ve been enjoying our chat too.

Nice! I like the sound of that.

We can have a beach experience that might become a shared memory, right?

So I’ll swing by in a few to pick you up?

See you in a bit.

Good-bye, friend.

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Not that we have a better understanding of friendship, here are some posts that highlight the beauty of it:

Travel Is No Cure for the Mind

Why Having a Wedding Makes Sense

The Garden You Can Touch

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