Social Question

Shippy's avatar

What do you expect from a friendship?

Asked by Shippy (9870points) October 29th, 2012

I don’t really expect much at all. Since most friends I know don’t offer much!!

Although I have a lot of ‘friends’, here are the things I’d never ask: A lift to the doctors, a meal if I were starving, or a shoulder to cry on, on a bad day. Most the people I know, are very into “must keep positive vibes around us”. Not that I am ever a misery guts, because on those days I hide out.

So, what do you expect from a friend, how much would you do for a friend? What is a friend?

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12 Answers

bookish1's avatar

Good question @Shippy . I have thought of posting variations on this question many times on Fluther.

I think I operate in terms of degrees of friendship. There are friends/buddies (mostly from work, but also locals in town) with whom I go drinking or out to restaurants, dancing, etc. From them I expect companionship if we happen to be hanging out in the same place on the same night. We buy each other drinks and talk and laugh. Otherwise, I don’t really talk to them if we’re not hanging out, and our conversations don’t get too personal, but that’s mostly just a function of not spending much time together.

I have a very few old friends whom I have known since high school (my best friend in high school and my girlfriend from high school, actually), and while we don’t hang out in person because we live very far apart, I expect them to know the real me. We have deep conversations and even if they are weeks or months apart, it’s like time never passed because we truly know and accept each other and we have shared so many formative experiences that still inform our frames of reference.

I have some professor friends/mentors (a very grey area). We might try to get together if we are in the same city at the same time, but mostly we communicate infrequently by email. I wouldn’t say I expect anything from them, but I have asked them for career advice, balancing work/personal life advice, perspectives, and occasionally recommendations for grants/scholarships, etc.

Finally, I have two best friends whom I consider as close as siblings. I feel comfortable talking about pretty much anything with them—things I don’t talk about with anyone else IRL or online, including my therapist. I didn’t expect this from them, but both gladly lent me money over the summer when I was broke as a joke in Paris and had to choose between eating lunch and eating dinner most days. I view this kind of friendship as ‘true’ friendship, the kind that involves a mutual obligation to help. I would help them out in any way I could, emotionally, financially, logistically or otherwise, because I know they would do the same for me.

Shippy's avatar

@bookish1 A lot of my ‘true’ friends, as I would consider them, meaning if I needed any of the above moved. Moved overseas. I was never starving though, at that time, I always had money. But if I needed a lift to the airport or so, I could count on them. When they all left, and I didn’t realize it until recently, because around the same time, I lost through death the last of my family, I sank in this depression. So I have tried to venture forth and meet new people, or establish friendships with people I hadn’t before. This has kind of left me feeling worse than ever. Since at the time, during the tough years, I was often hungry. (I couldn’t get out for one) to actually go shopping. Plus I didn’t really have the bucks.

A good example is of a current friend, begging me to feed a stray cat. Since she is a great animal lover and hates to see starving animals. At the time it was difficult for the reasons above. She never once asked me if I were hungry. I know this is hardcore, and also basic, but it is a great example I feel. So I ask myself as I never know what is normal, what is a friend, and what do you expect from one? Maybe I need to relearn things you know?

I’ve always been a helper, in the past, and made sure everyone I cared about was OK. But was slam-dunked by my psychiatrist saying I should not do that. I just feel bit by bit I have lost faith in basic humanity, call me silly , call me what you will, but I have. I can feel that old feeling coming back. The big black cloud.

anartist's avatar

Pleasure, intellectual stimulation, laughter, occasional emotional support during a tough time, possibly even other kinds of help if I ever needed it [like a ride if I needed one or a place to crash for a night or 2, or a job lead/in] honesty, loyalty, shared good times to build fond memories, possibly sharing travel/adventure.

And I would [and have] give as good as I got.

fremen_warrior's avatar

I distinguish two groups of people in this respect: friends (ones you’d call close friends) and acquaintances (the “regular” friends). My friends need to be loyal, and forgiving. I offer the same in return.

What I would be willing to do for a friend is a function of our history (same as banks and credit history). After all society is all about tit for tat. Prove a valued ally, a loyal co-conspirator; and there is practically no limit to your “credit line” with the friendship bank of Fremen_Warrior.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I don’t keep many friends most people are more like acquaintances and I don’t give or expect much. They come and go many times barely noticed – what can I say, I’m not a people person.

Friends are a little different I expect a more integrated relationship from them something strong enough that it can be relied and called upon without concern, that can stand some degree of time and neglect, and builds trust, good will, and reciprocity. They have the potential to make life interesting and fun to share it with. There’s always room at the inn for them, but there are limits. I notice when they’re lost, it’s disappointing, but not an “event”.

Best friends, they’re a lot like a SO – it’s a relationship built on love, caring, trust, faith, honesty, and communication. They’re the ones I’m there for. They are part of who I am, part of the journey.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@wonderingwhy different phrasing, similar message. Cheers! ;-)

rojo's avatar

On the wall in my parents kitchen growing up was a little plaque that read:

“A friend is not a feller who is taken by sham,
A friend is one who knows our faults and doesn’t give a damn!”

Pretty much says it for me.

ucme's avatar

I don’t expect anything, just take things as they come….chill mon.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

I really expect very little of friends because I think that I then see it as a case of they won’t then let me down if I never expected them to do something in the first place. However, I do wonder at times how I got into that way of thinking as I must have been let down by people in the past so decided that was the way to go.

I am like you @Shippy in that I would not find myself asking for a lift somewhere or any of the other things and I think I would not do it because I feel I would know the answer that they would give in advance and the answer would be a negative one in some way. I guess at that it means they are perhaps not as true a friend as we may have thought.

flutherother's avatar

I wonder if some psychiatrists are human or if you opened them up you would just find a rule book and a mass of silver wires. I think you can distinguish between friends and acquaintances. With acquaintances you share the good times, with friends you share the good times and the bad. It becomes more difficult to make friends as you grow older. All you can ever do is to be friendly yourself.

geeky_mama's avatar

So succinctly put @flutherother!
Indeed, friends are the ones that will be there for you when things go wrong.. and they can offer constructive (and yet kind-hearted) criticism because they know you so well. In my case my dearest friends are the ones that I might not see often enough (because they don’t all live near me anymore)—but whenever we see each other we pick up as if no time has passed.

Acquaintances (which tend to be far greater in number that true friends) are the ones you see at Bowling League, dinner parties and other events..they may be former classmates, colleagues or parents of children at about the same age as yours.. They may become dear friends over time…or they may fade out of your life when your paths don’t cross quite so often.

Shippy's avatar

@flutherother So true that, “The Book of Life” and all its unspoken rules. I think in the old days they had the book of Etiquette? Not sure in which era that belonged. But sounded good!

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