Archive | September, 2012


30 Sep

I have my own little system of how I manage my friendly relations with others. It is not a conscious effort on my part; my mind just seems to work that way. I’m not sure if my method is unusual or the norm, but regardless it just seems to be the right way to do it.

I don’t have lots of friends, and I never have. Growing up I had virtually no non-familial friendships. This was due to a number of reasons: one, I moved about a lot so didn’t really have the time to make new friends in an area. Secondly, I was never particularly outgoing and so would not make the required effort. Finally, and this is the most crucial point: I quite enjoy being on my own, and always have. I don’t seem to suffer from loneliness as quickly as most people, and in general I find solace in my time away from others. I flourish as a lone wolf.

But this is an unwise and frankly absurd way in which to live in this world. Human beings are social creatures; granted some more so than others, but my point is that our interaction with others shapes and formulates who we are ourselves. I have things in common with others, and likewise we have plenty of differences. These similarities and contrasts rub off on us, knowingly or not. Once we find those with whom it is particularly easy to share our lives, friendly relations blossom. Like Aristotle said, true friends ‘hold all things in common’, and this can be taken in both a material and an emotional sense.

Speaking of Aristotle, I do broadly agree with his critique on the various forms of friendships. I have already written a post describing at length his theory on the matter, but here is a quick summary: for Aristotle, there are three types of friendly relations one can have. First, those born out of pleasure; they serve this purpose alone, and often end once the enjoyment runs out for both parties. Next come the friendships of utility, i.e. those which flourish on the basis of superficial gains for both parties. In other words, these relationships are ‘useful’. Finally come those ‘true’ friendships, the virtuous sort, in which people hang out purely because they enjoy the other’s company. This kind of friendship is the optimum sort, but consequently, the rarest.

I have no trouble making friends any more. I am a friendly person, or at least I think I am. I am, in general, polite and mannerly, and I usually have a big stoopid smile on my face. I might be a little slow to speak in certain situations, but that’s due to a certain shyness as opposed to unfriendliness. The bulk of my friends fall into the first of Aristotle’s categories, that of pleasure. We either have similar taste in music, matching hobbies or we share political views. But for the most part, this is where the line is drawn. I like how they think, or what they do, or who they know, as opposed to actually enjoying them.

For me, true friendships are few and far between, and they number a very small percentage of my overall friendly relations with people. I reckon that I know no more than ten people I’d deem ‘true friends’. These people are given extra access into my life, and in return I become devoted to them. It’s not an easy process for me; for the most part, the inner Simon is under lock and key. This is either my greatest quality or most striking flaw in regards friendly relations: I become very attached to that small group of people. I hold them so dear that I often put their needs and problems above my own. In this sense, I am very loyal, and selfless to the point of insanity; occasionally self-neglect. I will do anything for these people.

Why am I like this? Well, I’m not really sure. I think my selfless attitude was shaped by growing up with my mother, who is the most selfish person you could ever have the displeasure to meet. I have formed in contrast to her. I don’t cling on to these people because they fill some kind of void in my life; the two inferior friendships, the pleasurable and the practical, satisfy me in that regard. Is it love? Well, that’s a whole other story. Certainly not romantically: I’ve said ‘I love you’ in that sense, and meant it, only once before. But if the highest form of non-sexual attraction to others is some form of ‘love’, then yes, I probably do love these people.

So yeah, if you’re my friend and are reading this then I certainly do like you, and am happy to call you my friend. I think you’ll know yourself which type of friendship we have. But if you think you’re in that one little group of virtuous friends, then you can count on me to do my best.


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