What Is Friendship?

By | 11/01/2016

Friendship is a strong emotional bond between two people, which happens for reasons that are not always present in romantic attachments. When two people enjoy how the other acts, laughs and thinks, they connect fairly fast; in this regard, friendship is similar to love.

The intellectual compatibilities that are quickly noticed when people grow closer are the foundation of friendship, which might be the most adult emotional connection one can have. Sadly, this element can’t be found in most so-called romantic relationships.

In a friendship, respect for differences prevails, establishing mutual trust. Even the most intimate confidences can be shared without fear of betrayal. There are no “games” in this kind of relationship, as friends are not users. There might be some jealousy, but almost no envy, since friends are usually people with similar sociocultural backgrounds. When one of them does feel envious, they’ll do their best to hide the feeling to not hurt their friend, who is enjoying some kind of personal victory. Jealousy can exist between friends, but it’s minimal, since people can have other close friends and that does not affect the trust they have in each other.

Conversely, jealousy can be oppressive in romantic love, as lovers feel entitled to demand that their partner stay away from all people who make them experience this unpleasant feeling. In fact, one of the main characteristics of friendship is that the bond friends share doesn’t give them any special rights. Friends aren’t as demanding as romantic partners can be; they are considerate and don’t feel they have the right to curb their friend’s freedom or personality.

Friends can be apart for a long while, but when they meet, it seems like no time has passed! Their closeness is immediately reestablished, with no interrogations that indicate they are owed explanations about what their friend has done and whom they’ve been with.

Friends also respect each other’s romantic relationships. If a friend does feel jealous, it’s more often of other friends than of their friend’s romantic partner. There seems to be an unspoken agreement on hierarchy, by which romantic relationships are more important than friendships, so there really is no competition there. Interestingly, however, many romantic relationships are less intimate than friendships; often, people trust their friends more than their lovers, as it seems more unlikely that a friend will betray them.

Many friendships may fade with time, because people take different paths in life or maybe start a new romance with someone who doesn’t get along with their old friends (or even the partners of these friends): the more people there are in a group, the harder it will be to maintain a friendship among all. But there is no betrayal between friends. When there is a betrayal of trust, it is because someone made a mistake and trusted an impostor, a good actor who only pretended to be a true friend.

This is why I’ve been advocating that romantic choices should resemble friendship, which, as I see it, is a better kind of relationship. When people become more mature and independent, they choose partners who can also be their best friends, since they have chosen their lovers using the same criteria they use to pick friends: compatibility of character, tastes, interests and, of course, a feeling of mutual sympathy, that delightful connection that is so hard to explain. But we must be careful, as there is also an erotic side to romantic relationships, and sex can get in the way of good choices: the most attractive people aren’t necessarily the ones who can be great friends.

 Tradução: Amanda Morris