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04 June 2014 @ 09:58 am
what makes a good friend?  
I like to think that I'm a pretty good friend. Obviously, I'm not perfect, but friendship is important to me, and in particular, I really like showing up in helpful ways when a friend is going through a rough time. I mean, obviously I ALSO love it when I get to have fun and frolic with my friends also, but that's not where push comes to shove. That said, I do feel like there's always more I could be doing in a lot of ways, so there's plenty of room for improvement and growth, which I'm more or less constantly aware of. But there are plenty of ways that I am able to show up already, and I'm grateful for them, if certainly not for the circumstance that makes showing up necessary!

But one of the things that SUPER confuses me is when I'm doing something that I think of as a baseline level of friendship -- so obviously part of what I do for a friend that it didn't even involve a decision -- and someone says to me, "Wow, you're such a good friend to do that!"


REALLY? What the heck does friendship mean to YOU, person-who-is-gobsmacked?? Is it all grabbing lunch and chatting? Isn't it normal to take food over to a friend's house when they're sick? Or to pick up something for them at the store to make their crazy day easier? Aren't these the very basis of close friendship?

Yes, I am a good friend, at least sometimes, but that thing is not a good example of why.
I'm feeling: curiouscurious
chenoamegchenoameg on June 4th, 2014 03:07 pm (UTC)
I wonder if this has to do with people valuing acts of service versus quality time (regarding Love Languages, which also apply to friends)
(Deleted comment)
bison need inbbbsg on June 4th, 2014 06:01 pm (UTC)
yeah, the communication is the biggest aspect, for me, of being a good friend.
ruthless compassion: thinkyaroraborealis on June 4th, 2014 07:05 pm (UTC)
Agreed! It's not the specifics examples, but the general notion of what friendship entails.
Elizabeth Hunterlillibet on June 4th, 2014 05:20 pm (UTC)
Partly, I'm guessing it's one of those things that people say when they don't know quite what to day. And partly, I think that these days it's the sort of thing one expects from family, but not as much from friends.
cheveux sable with earworm rampant: autumn treelcohen on June 4th, 2014 10:07 pm (UTC)
you know, it would not occur to me to bring someone food when they were sick unless they asked me to pick something up for them. which probably has more to do with how recently i started to identify as someone who can cook food for people other than people with whom i have a romantic relationship than it does with how i perform friendship. it's not at all just grabbing lunch and chatting, i just have a different catalog of things that i think that i can do when a person is having problems. (i have sat by the bedsides of friends who are ill, held their hands and sung for them, because singing is in my catalog. your skill set is more practical ;-) .)

ruthless compassion: thinkyaroraborealis on June 4th, 2014 11:25 pm (UTC)
I'd like to reiterate that it's not the specific examples I used that's important, but the level of engagement/involvement/effort that go into them. Certainly bedside company and singing is well within that!
cheveux sable with earworm rampant: autumn treelcohen on June 5th, 2014 03:08 pm (UTC)
i guess what i was thinking was that i might also say that bringing food is an example of being a very good friend because it feels beyond what i might feel i could do. and, truth in advertising, singing by someone's bedside isn't something i have felt i should do when someone has a nasty head cold--it's been when friends were very ill or dying.
tamidon on June 5th, 2014 03:08 am (UTC)
I consider being a, and having, good friend to be the most important life lesson of my 30's, especially female friends. This is something I've tried to pass on to my girls, that being a good friend and having good close friends is important, and that maintaining those friendships is important. No ditching for a guy, abusing a friendship by not keeping contact up, etc...
Chancemiss_chance on June 5th, 2014 06:08 am (UTC)
I wonder if those people who say "Wow, you're such a good friend to do that!" are undervaluing their own contributions as a friend. Perhaps they see the specifics of your engagement, and the effort/involvement of your actions are legible to them, but when the look at their own actions they think "oh, but what I do is just basic, anyone do it." Maybe they need to be reminded that the thing they do to connect with and help their friends is equally important?
ruthless compassion: partysmilearoraborealis on June 5th, 2014 11:41 am (UTC)
Oh, interesting point! Thank you.

And even if that's NOT what is happening for them, it gives me a much better ground to respond to that kind of comment, rather than kind of sitting there scratching my head. Thanks.
funner'n a sack a weaselsmoominmolly on June 5th, 2014 02:53 pm (UTC)
I like that a lot!
curly_chickcurly_chick on June 5th, 2014 07:46 pm (UTC)
I agree here.

Bringing homemade food to someone's house would be something I would comment on in a similar fashion because I rarely cook. On the other hand, I would be delighted to pick up something from your favorite restaurant if you are ill. I value the former more than the latter because the former seems way more difficult for me. However, after this conversation, I will not be minimizing the things I do like that because I think it is part of a larger feminist issue.
sabriel_sabriel_ on June 6th, 2014 01:30 pm (UTC)
This made me think, thank you! Excellent point!
Terry: Innocentrintrahroars on June 6th, 2014 06:15 pm (UTC)
I was going to respond similarly, so I'm not needed here. ;) Thanks, miss_chance!

I may *ahem* resemble this remark. I see the actions of others, and I never feel I've done anything near enough to show a friend I care.
kimcobkimcob on June 22nd, 2014 05:40 pm (UTC)
In recent years I have noticed that people have such different definitions for friendship than I do. For some folks seeing me once a week for five years and asking the basic, " How are you?" and listening to the small talk version is enough for many people.

This blew my mind recently. One of Gabe's archery coaches recently brought this home to me. His wife died, Gabe and I went to the funeral. When he introduced us to his family, outsiders might have thought he had adopted us. Another time I was asking him about his support network, when he listed me at the top of the list of friends I thought, "OH SHIT! This guy has nobody. " This man has no idea who I am, he does not know I majored stupidly twice in theatre or that I am incredibly liberal including second amendment issues and as Gabe points out he certainly doesn't know I was a lesbian:)SO how is he defining friendship?

I agree with all the things you list as the very basis of close friendship. I have to admit I am great with the giving and not so much with the receiving bit which makes me wonder if I am a shitty friend. Depriving people of the very thing I so enjoy about close relationships, being there for people when it is time to step up.