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, itâ€™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 virtueâ€”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 lonelyâ€”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. 🙂