Monday, July 6, 2009

Friendship

I realize now that my posts should have been in a different order. This post should have come first, then the post on intimacy (and possibly followed by the post on touching and sex).

Most people have more friends than intimates. That's because we share with friends but we share more deeply with those we are intimate with. On the other hand (and this is one of the reasons this post should have been first) friendship usually blossoms before intimacy. I think that intimate relationships often develop out of friendships and that friendships come first. (My partners have first and foremost been friends, and sometimes, when a relationship isn't sustainable, return to being friends. There is nothing wrong with being 'just friends'.)

Of course, friendship and intimacy are on a spectrum. People often talk about having close friends and then other friends, and with close friends there is a greater degree of trust and intimacy (although not as much as with our 'intimates'.) I think that there is a need for friends and friendship, to let us know that we are connected with others and important to others.

The Wikipedia article on Friendship notes that friendship has declined in the US over the last twenty years and probably longer. This is particularly true among men.

One of the reasons cited is homophobia--in this case men's fear of being close to other men. While I think that's true, I also think it has to do with male behavioral patterns in general--both emotional limitations and fear of male violence. I know gay men who have sexual relationships with other men but not emotional relationships, often being more intimate with women than men, so it isn't simply homophobia keeping men apart. (This, of course, is a generality; there are lots of gay men and even some heterosexual men who can get close to other men.)

On the other hand, friendships between heterosexual men and women can also be problematic in this society. I've heard people actually claim that it's not possible for close, nonsexual relationships to exist between heterosexual women and men--something I don't believe is true. (As a bisexual man, I have close, nonsexual relationships with a variety of men and women.)

Let's be honest, close friendships of any type are not supported by this society. In this society consumerism replaces relationships--the marketplace is where you are supposed to get your 'needs' met. And I think if we had more close friendships, we wouldn't need as much stuff. (I know I've said this before, but I don't think I can say it enough.)


Resources:
The Friendship Page--A website devoted to friendship with lots of information on it
How to Make Friends--An online manual giving step by step instructions; for some people this is necessary
Karen Lindsey, Friends as Family--This book connects with what I will be writing on my next post, on Family, where I will mention that just as the lines between intimacy and friendship blur, so do the lines between friendship and family; here Karen Lindsey explores the connections
Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty--The biography of a friendship
Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone--A book that pointed out the rise of individuality and the collapse of social networks; it also made people aware of the term 'Social Capital' & only in a capitalist society could friendship be turned into social capital

Quote of the Day: "Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." - Anais Nin

2 comments:

Robyn Coffman said...

Great post!

I got tired of surface connections long ago...

Many of my friendships have been misunderstood. Even now, in ministry, there are so many eyebrows raised.

We are relational beings, it seems that that has been forgotten along the way.

MoonRaven said...

Good and very true points. We are very much relational beings. I think that it's great that you reach out to so many people.

I am also grateful for the small connection we've made. I am hardly someone who would travel in your circles--or you in mine--but I love what I am learning from you.