Relationships surround us every day in different kinds of ways.
We are born into a family of relationships. We can attempt to disown our sister, ignore our brother, or be angry at our parent. This however does not alter the fact that family is family and this is your first relationship.
Another form of relationships is who we chose to fall in love with. By allowing ourselves to love others, we create the new relationship, leading us back to marriage and eventually creating a family again.
The third type of relationship is friendship. Friendships are the most important kind of relationship you can be in. Friendships bring out the best in us and allow us to have connection. But friendships can go wrong. Just like we can choose a friend, we can just as simply delete them.
Every day people are unfriending friends on Facebook and weeks later refriending them. LinkedIn members block other LinkedIn members. You can be deleted off of Instagram. You can be unfollowed on Twitter. It is so fast and easy to disconnect from other human beings these days.
The term friendship has been in dispute since 322BC, beginning with Aristotle. Aristotle believed that we are political beings, friends by connection, linked together by other friends. The way to get to the world is through other friends.
Aristotle states that there are 3 types of friendship.
• Friendship based on utility is friendship that is useful for each party. Your neighbour puts in a pool, your child wants to swim in the pool, and out of nowhere your child is best friends with the kid with the pool. The child with the pool is just as happy to have a friend to play with all summer. You need to carpool as an adult. Your carpooling partner is not someone you’d normally be friends with, however you’re exchanging favors.
• Friendship based on pleasure is someone you enjoy being around (goes no further). You’re friends with the kid in your English class because you both despise English and talking to each other is better than sitting and listening to English. You’re on a sport team and all of the other players are people that you only hang out with when doing that sport.
• Friendship based on virtue is the highest form of friendship. You love this person and want to hang out with them the most. This is the person who you had sleepover as a child. As an adult you talk to this person more than others about serious matters, you jump at the opportunity to see each other when you can, and discuss your lives, successes, failures, hopes, dreams ect.
Everyone strives to have a virtuous friendship. This friendship is based on an equal respect and love for each other. In loving a friend, you are also doing what is good for yourself.
How to be a virtuous friend:
- Wish your friends the best, regardless of utility or pleasure. Always be happy for your friend even if you have a twinge of jealousy. Live their happy moments as if they were your own. Help them out even when it isn’t necessarily fun or convenient for you.
- Make time for one another and be understanding. The virtuous friend is the one you would like to see the most. Even if it’s twice a year, set a scheduled date and stick with it. Sometimes we miss the people that we love the most. They may be busy, that’s OK. After all so are you. Don’t get angry because you feel you are trying harder. Next time you may need them to understand why you can’t make it.
- Trust: Don’t use guilt trips to make them call you back. It’s hard to trust someone who is always angry because the other person didn’t do what was expected. Everyone is dealing with their own lives , so dont make them feel bad for making difficult choices out of your own insecurity. Don’t gossip or talk about them behind their back. This weakens the relationship and makes it difficult to stay virtuous.
- Mutual goodwill: Give to your friends and ask nothing in return and they’ll do the same. The virtuous friend doesn’t keep a count of how many favors you did for each other. They don’t get angry if plans fall through because they have respect and love. The virtuous friend isn’t the one you see all the time, rather the one you would want to take on vacation with you, take to a concert and buy their ticket, pay for their dinner and not ask for it back. This type of friend would do the same for you.
- Familiarity: When you are together, be open and kind, thoughtful and sincere, honest and giving. Keeping a loving connection with trust and understanding will allow your friendship to remain virtuous.
“it is clear that only the good can be friends for themselves, since the bad do not enjoy their own kind unless some benefit comes from them.”-Aristotle
Check out my other articles on Relationships: