FRIEND
–noun 1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
4. a member of the same nation, party, etc.
5. (initial capital letter) a member of the Religious Society of Friends; a Quaker.

—Idiom7. make friends with, to enter into friendly relations with; become a friend to.

Origin:
bef. 900; ME friend, frend, OE frēond friend, lover, relative (c. OS friund, OHG friunt (G Freund), Goth frijōnds), orig. prp. of frēogan, c. Goth frijōn to love

Synonyms:
1. comrade, chum, crony, confidant. See acquaintance. 2. backer, advocate. 4. ally, associate, confrere, compatriot.

FRIENDSHIP
–noun 1. the state of being a friend; association as friends: to value a person’s friendship.
2. a friendly relation or intimacy.
3. friendly feeling or disposition.

Origin:
bef. 900; ME; OE frēondscipe. See friend, -ship

Synonyms:
2. harmony, accord, understanding, rapport.

“Friendship” has pretty broad definitions today. You can “friend” someone you don’t even know, you may never meet, maybe even someone you’d probably never associate with in real life, if you had the opportunity. Facebook has made “friend” a verb, as in “to friend someone” I have facebook friends who are people I forgot about 25 years ago, but apparently they didn’t forget me, and asked me to ‘friend’ them. That was a little weird, but I did anyway, more out of curiosity than anything.

Friendship is a serious thing for me. I’ve never had large collections of friends, not as I define them. It doesn’t come easily for me to give myself into a relationship with another person. Friendship *must*, by my reckoning, be mutual. I have to be able to whine about my problems to them as I let them do to me, and get sympathy in return, as I (try to) give to them. I have to laugh, cry, worry, and bounce ideas off of them. It must absolutely be mutually beneficial.

I admit that I am not the best friend in the world. I worry sometimes that I’m not empathetic, at least not outwardly, so the person *knows* I’m thinking of them. If a friend is going through a really rough time, I’m awkward and not really sure of what I’m supposed to do. So, I do what I know I can. I try to listen to them, I certainly pray for them. I attempt to encourage them. I hope for the same thing in return, when I’m having difficulties, and in the case of a couple of people, I do receive this, these are the people I consider my truest friends.

So now I am in a position where the possibility of making a new friend or two is there. And it terrifies me. What if I screw up? Do I know the rules of the game? What if it turns into the same thing I dealt with when I was younger, where all the right noises were made and my defenses relaxed then BOOM…suddenly the whole world (so it seemed) knew all my history and made a mockery of it, or they made all the polite noises but never asked me to lunch with the rest of them.

It doesn’t seem like that’s whats happening, but I am cautious…wary,even. That caution makes me awkward, unsure of the right things to say or do, so I end up not doing the right thing and coming off as a little weird,awkward,socially inept.

Online friendships are something similar. I am still uncertain about the authenticity of them. Sometimes they seem onesided, and by my definition friendship is definitely a 2 way street. I’m not sure how to move ahead, or even if I should. I don’t know that baring my soul is something that ought to happen. I do know that until I’m sure, it won’t happen.
What I worry about is if I say what’s on my mind, the response will be “oh shut your whining. You have it good and you know it.” Yes, I do have it good, and I know that. I also know I have the insecurities and fears of any other person, and would appreciate some reciprocity when it comes to voicing them. Because that’s what friendship is.

I’ve been pondering online friendships over the weekend. Who is supposed to be my friend? Anyone? People I have similar interests with? Someone I’d let stay in my home? Someone who’s company I would enjoy IRL, and who would likewise enjoy mine? Someone who respects my life and who’s life I also respect? It’s hard to tell, isn’t it, when the only way you know them is through words on a screen. So I am thinking caution is is order here. A step back, perhaps, some evaluation. Some time, even. I’m not sure how I am going to go about it, but I’m going to start by really seriously thinking…cogitation, rumination…all that. Because friendship is important, not to be taken lightly, definitely not to be taken lightly.

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About rootietoot

I do what I can.
This entry was posted in *eep!, Dewicate feewings, friends IRL, friends online, Sometimes she thinks too much. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to

  1. Michelle says:

    I wonder how much of this was due to my existential crisis of last week? You might not even be referring to me or my crisis but I am going to jump in and comment anyway 😉 There is nothing like having a long term friend decide you aren’t friends anymore, It’s a long story, and one I am not feeling like I want to share beyond a few words as it is sooo painful. My life has changed drastically in the last few years and my old friends do not apparently like the person I am becoming in my walk with Christ. They’d like me to go back to drinking and running around and hanging in a pack, with no regard to our spouses and family. I stopped that long before anyone else did, but the other changes were even less palatable to the group. This was one of my closest friends; the other two deserted me when I became seriously ill, so I guess they really weren’t friends after all. As far as online friendship with me, please do not feel like you need to do anything, or be anything, or that I have any expectations of you or will flounce off the first time you say something that I disagree with 🙂 Think of me as a distant admirer of your writing, who enjoys our small exchanges. I am grateful for the small window in your life that you’ve opened to people like me and hope you continue writing. You have a gift and I am glad you are sharing it! I suspect I would really enjoy your company were we to ever meet in real life 😉 I’m not here to harm anyone or interfere in anyone’s life; I’m just trying to get through life as best I can, which isn’t that great but at least I am trying!

    • rootietoot says:

      I think much of my angst is due to cold medicine.
      Much of it is uncertainty, about the future, and inner workings kind of stuff.
      It’s interesting to me the reactions this post is having…it’s not about any one person in particular, or a specific event. I’ve never had a group of friends that I did stuff with, not in my adult life, anyway. I do know if the 2 friends I *do* actually have were to dump me (for whatever reason), I’d be devastated.
      There are several people I consider online friends, that I’ve never met, who I strongly suspect I’d like very much in real life, and you’re one of them. Unfortunately they all live thousands of miles away…

  2. jerseechik says:

    Michelle, I had the same experience- a lot of my “friends” stopped calling when I stopped drinking. Maybe we were only pals, when I thought they were friends.
    The Greek language has a word for people who share common interests- phileo. It’s different from a relationship that’s committed to the other person’s benefit- agape.
    Whaddayathink?

  3. Bella Rum says:

    This is a great post, Rootie. I’ve pondered this question about online friends too. There were times over the past few years that I felt isolated at Dad’s, even though I was surrounded by family. Some of it was my own doing because, for a while, I lacked the physical or emotional energy it took to be a friend; some of it was unavoidable because of the situation I was in. There were days when I only told those who read my blog about how I was really feeling. My husband, who reads the comments, told me that I received more support from those who commented there than from some of the people in my “real” life.

    I hope this new opportunity to make friends works out for you. Many people have the same doubts that you have. Sometimes I think it’s easier for men. They can talk sports, cars, the job; women talk about their lives and feelings and families. It requires trust.

  4. Stone Fox says:

    i’ll be your friend, rootie 🙂 heck, i think of myself that way already.

    i feel the same way about making friends. i always feel SO awkward around new people, so i just don’t talk. the likelihood of me saying something stupid or (horrors!) unfunny is seriously decreased if i don’t say anything at all.

    so, in conclusion, i have no good advice. other than: i think you are a fantastic, supportive, wonderful internet-friend and i’m willing to bet that you are also a fantastic, supportive, wonderful real-life friend.

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