What Do You Seek and Give in Friendship?

Did you read the essay by Meghan Daum, The Age of Friendaholism? I doubt it’s being passed around on social networks as a “must read.” She likens the need to add friends on social networks to other addictive behaviors, which is a question that can make all of us a little uncomfortable looking in the mirror. She said:

The idea of friendship, at least among the growing population of Internet social networkers, is to attain as many of these not-really-friends as possible. Hence, the alcoholism analogy, which I don’t make lightly. Like cheap wine, “friends” provide a high that can only be sustained by acquiring more and more of them. Quantity trumps quality.

Siblings, but also friendsIn reality, she’s asking a more important question of our culture today, not just about on-line versus off-line friendships: “What kind of friends do we really have?”

Her essay leads to an appropriate follow-up question,  “What kind of friend am I?”

This week I saw true friendship modeled in my own son and daughter. My daughter stayed overnight on a school trip to the Science Museum and State Capitol. When she returned the next day, my son eagerly greeted her. He obviously missed what she added to his life. She wanted to share what she’d done; her eyes showed it. He asked her about it.  They huddled together and disappeared in their own conversations. He was interested in her and wanted to share her joy.

Can their example be applied to our relationships in a large circle of friends?  Sure they can, but every time I expand my circle of friends, I notice my ability to be genuinely interested and rejoice with others is limited by my time and energy. As Meghan Daum said, “friendship is labor intensive.” Trial and error teaches me that limits, too, are my friend, not the enemy to successful living. And so when you see my limited friend lists, you’ll know why I’ll never be the most popular girl on the block.

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2 Comments

  1. Lisa
    Mar 14, 2009

    Great thoughts that explain well some of my own. It reminds me of a letter I received from a friend who was moving away. It was a form letter she sent to all her friends, but it was heartfelt. She simply wanted to express her gratitude to all those who had made a difference in her life…whether it was a daily impact or a bonding that occured only once. Although all I personally shared with her was a girls’ weekend to the temple, I treasure the experience and all who accompanied us as she did.

    I think that true friendship encompases many facets, but foremost in my mind it is being present in the moment. A true friend makes you feel like there is nothing more important at that particular moment than listening and enjoying your company. As distance separates you, “being present” is more difficult. However, the desire to maintain a connection is strong. The trick is to not let present relationships deteriorate while trying to keep up with those cherished friendships from the past.

    I think I could go on and on, but I’ll end by thanking you, Teresa! It may be close to 12 years since we’ve seen each other, but I still think very fondly on our friendship. Thanks for being a true friend!

  2. An Ordinary Mom
    Mar 17, 2009

    I treasure the friendship my two oldest children share.

    I love your thoughts on this matter. Quality friendship and true genuine friendships are the best.

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