Friendship & other relationships

Somewhere in The Art of Happiness a book of interviews with the Dalai Lama, he talks about how in Western culture the most emphasized form of relationship is romantic, and that he, as a monk, will never have a romantic relationship, but that he has deep and abiding relationships with all kinds of people. And it seems that in our search for romantic love we overlook the possibilities for profound relationships with sisters, children, colleagues, and the like. Which I thought of as I read America, Land of Loners.

Friendship is uniquely suited to fill this void because, unlike matrimony or parenthood, it’s available to everyone, offering concord and even intimacy without aspiring to be all-consuming. Friends do things for us that hardly anybody else can, yet ask nothing more than friendship in return (though this can be a steep price if we take friendship as seriously as we should). The genius of friendship rests firmly on its limitations, which are better understood as boundaries.

And a quote from Aristotle on its different flavors:

Aristotle, who saw friendship as essential to human flourishing, shrewdly observed that it comes in three distinct flavors: those based on usefulness (contacts), on pleasure (drinking buddies), and on a shared pursuit of virtue—the highest form of all. True friends, he contended, are simply drawn to the goodness in one another, goodness that today we might define in terms of common passions and sensibilities.

And a quote from John Cacioppo, who says that Americans are lonely—not because we have fewer social contacts, but because the ones we have are more harried and less meaningful.

Easier to just read the whole thing. 🙂

Author: Caterina Fake

Literature, Art, Poetry, Homeschooling Mother. Founder & CEO, Findery. Co-founder, Flickr & Hunch.

5 thoughts on “Friendship & other relationships”

  1. We have invested so much in the concept of ‘soul-mate’ or rather just mate that it makes it an unachievable goal. It’s impossible for just one human being to be your go-to person for intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual, hiking, snorkeling, long-walk-on-beach needs (etc etc.). The ads on dating sites reflect this madness. It’s like we are looking for a WalMart when searching for mates…


  2. I saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama in person a few years back, and the thing that stuck with me most was what he said when someone asked him for his advice on rearing children.

    He chuckled, said that he didn’t really have the experience to answer the question, and proposed that children need “maximum affection”.


  3. In comparison to Hollywood films, where romance is rather stuffed down ones throuat, it seems to me that British films tend to emphasise friendship. C.f. Trainspotting, The Full Monty, A Fish Called Wanda, Brassed of, and even perhaps “Love Acutually” (though some are billed as “romantic”). There is no genre of romance/comedy romance in the British films at wikipedia
    So, if you would rather avoid the deluge of romance, watch British.


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