The “Business of Friendship” fallacy

It’s due time I admit to myself I’m anti-social.

I’ve tried not to be.  Back in college, I was the event-coordinator amongst my friends.  I hosted many of the parties and planned most of the excursions, but even as a host, I fell asleep at my own parties more often than I stayed awake to see my friends out the door.  I did always make sure to take my shoes off to negate the possibility of penis-face drawings, but I suppose being asleep on my floor made me fair game to poke and prod to my friends’ hearts’ content.

Keep partying, comrades.  Please, just let me sleep.  I beg you.  Let me sleep.

Looking back, I didn’t host parties because I enjoyed them.  I hosted parties because I wanted people to like me, and if I didn’t supply them with free booze, why on earth would they do a thing like that?

Therein lies my fatal misunderstanding of friendship.  To me, I couldn’t figure out why people would want to be my friend unless I brought something to the table, be it booze, fun ideas, comedy, or some sort of magnanimous servitude (no, that’s okay, you don’t have to pay for gas).  I conceptualized friendship as a business transaction.  I provide some service for your life, and you make me feel like I belong.

This business of friendship was easy to maintain in the short term and yielded undeniable profits, but eventually it turned me into a neurotic nut-bag.  What if I’m not funny?  Why would you want to be my friend if I cease to be funny?  Naturally, this spun into a vicious cycle of trying too hard, self-doubt, anxiety, paranoia, and reclusion.

I was so consumed with being useful to people that I forgot to take the time to think about what friendship really means.

Unfortunately, the true meaning of friendship is impossible to determine.  It’s easy to reduce friendship to some cliché hallmark generalization, i.e. “Friends are people who listen,” or “Friends are always there for you when you need them.”  But no, it’s not that simple.  Many of my closest friends are assholes, and you can’t expect even your closest friend to listen to your mundane, paranoid banalities all the time.

Truth be told, I don’t know why I like a lot of my friends.  Maybe it’s because they’re genuine human beings.  Most of them aren’t funny, and a lot of them are cheap, or arrogant, or unsavory, or needy.  But I like them anyway, and perhaps it’s better I don’t understand why, because if I don’t understand why I like them, then I don’t have to understand why they like me.  I just have to accept that they do.  Hopefully they’re comfortable accepting that I do too.

It’s kind of like blogging through writer’s block.  Not everything you write has to be a masterpiece.  People who like you will appreciate you even in spite of your failures, and those that don’t, well good riddance.  We are an imperfect people, and it’s time to appreciate that about ourselves as well as our companions.

.

ADDENDUM: Aug 6, 2013 – It’s harsh of me to call many of my friends assholes, and it gives the wrong impression of what kind of friends I have.  Allow me to clarify (by copying a response from the comments section of this entry) –

Many (certainly not all) of my friends are assholes, but they’re still often good people. I say “asshole” and “cheap” and “arrogant” (etc.) with a critical eye, in the same sense that we can be sinners even if we have good in our heart. (i.e. Have I done all I can do today to better society? No, I’ve been sitting on my rear refreshing facebook all day. That partially makes me a bad person, even if it’s not so extreme as kicking dirt in the faces of the homeless.)

None of us are perfect people, and I find those that try to distance themselves from unsavory personality traits tend to be in denial about their own. If there’s one thing in common between most all of my friends, it’s that they all have realistic attitudes towards their own flawed humanity and accept the imperfections in others. If I befriended only the righteous and pure, I’d be a very lonely man.

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About Doctor Quack

Just another bonehead with an internet connection.
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4 Responses to The “Business of Friendship” fallacy

  1. combojim says:

    True and well said.

  2. Vicky G says:

    Love it. I’ve felt like this many times!!!

  3. Covert says:

    I don’t remember who said it, but this quote is similar to what you are feeling: “When you stop to ask yourself “”Am I happy?””, you cease to be so.” Just let it be. You have ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’. Most people end up with no more than three friends…REAL ones…and the rest are just acquaintances. You don’t need a ‘posse’ like the guys in Hollywood have. Would you WANT that? Think of it…if you were a millionaire, I guarantee you you would be swarmed by folks wanting or claiming to be your friend. But would you be able to say, he likes me because of who I am rather than how much money I have? No.
    I would question why you count assholes to be your closest friends….remember what happens when one lies down with dogs.
    But who am I to tell you who to hang with? Personally, I’d rather be alone than be nervously laughing at the hapless target of an ‘asshole’ ‘cheap’ ‘arrogant’ ‘friend”. If you think your friends are funny when they’re attacking other people, (but not YOU so it must be because they think of you as a friend) remember, it doesn’t take much for them to turn asshole on you.
    And, it may just be that you have cheap, unsavory ‘friends’ because the targets of their asshole attacks look at you WITH THEM…and think you’re just another asshole. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend because you hang out with assholes…perhaps this is the reason you have only assholes for friends.

    • Doctor Quack says:

      Let me clarify – many (certainly not all) of my friends are assholes, but they’re still often good people. I say “asshole” and “cheap” and “arrogant” (etc.) with a critical eye, in the same sense that we can be sinners even if we have good in our heart. (i.e. Have I done all I can do today to better society? No, I’ve been sitting on my rear refreshing facebook all day. That partially makes me a bad person, even if it’s not so extreme as kicking dirt in the faces of the homeless.)

      None of us are perfect people, and I find those that try to distance themselves from unsavory personality traits tend to be in denial about their own. If there’s one thing in common between most all of my friends, it’s that they all have realistic attitudes towards their own human conditions and accept the imperfections in others. If I befriended only the righteous and pure, I’d be a very lonely man.

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