Losing Friends

This post was inspired by David Hayward’s lament of lost friends after leaving his church and his joy in new found friends outside his faith. Like David, I too lost almost all of my friends on leaving Christianity. But I lost friends many times in my life — perhaps you have too.  People who keep friends tend to be people who don’t change their locations, beliefs or activities or have a loose definition of “friend”.

So, do some fake armchair philosophy and reflect on the whole phenomena of “Loosing Friends“?

I can think of a three main (overlapping) reasons humans form “friendships”:

  1. survival, competition & safety: cooperation, support
  2. reproduction & family: partners, children, …
  3. pleasure or avoidance of pain: shared activity, distraction, comfort, acceptance

Depending on how you value these conditions at any given time or in any given situation, what you call “friend” may change.

When you leave situations, those who continue to be friends change.

Loss of friends seems so simple to me. Friendships are difficult to maintain because our lives are in flux — this is natural.  Or if  your life is not in flux then perhaps you lost friends because you were not aware of these basic drives and thus did not nurture the particular aspect of a “friendship” appropriately.  Or perhaps the other person was a jerk — but I would save that explanation for last.

People desire “true friends” but on deep inspection, I think this term may be found to be self-deceptive. Such thinking reveals something crucial about our desperate condition. I can understand the ideal of “true relating” much better — it does not come wrapped in profit and investment.

Here are a few natural times to lose friends:

  • on leaving a church, synagogue, temple
  • on leaving a club, school, activities
  • on leaving a town, country
  • on leaving a period of life

If we understand the benefits of friends, we can understand why they often dissolve in these situations. Lastly, we only have so much time in a day — friends take time.

And when you lose friends, you have an opportunity to see behind your real motivations or behind the motivations of others. The loss may be natural and healthy, and so start nurturing new relationships. Or, it may reveal your lack of understanding of friendships and you need to change either your expectations or your actions.

So, if you want more friends:

  1. Invest time with those who you share common purpose, nurture your friendship
  2. Change your definition of “friend” (as they do on FaceBook or Google +)

So, what is your philosophy of friendship? What do you think of my view?

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2 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

2 responses to “Losing Friends

  1. DaCheese

    I agree that it’s natural to lose friends during certain transitions. But I also think there’s a difference between the natural, gradual decay of a friendship due to physical or metaphorical distance, vs. the abrupt, deliberate “breakup” that happens when friends reject you due to your changing beliefs. The latter can be hurtful in a way that the former generally isn’t (at least for non-sexual relationships).

  2. @ DaCheese,
    I totally agree. But many folks change their beliefs and so they stop attending the club. Lack of attendance naturally withers friendships. Further, if you belong to a stamp collecting club but when you attend meetings you will only talk about coin collecting, you should not be surprised that people either confront you on your lack of stamp collecting enthusiasm or just avoid you.

    All I am pointing out is that many people think they have some abstract thing called “friendship” when instead, they don’t understand that all friendships are bound to real unwritten contracts of interests. They are delusional to think someone really cares about them in a selfless, forever-caring way. Such thinking merely exposes our pathetic neediness.

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