The Friend Q&A

A reader approached me with this interview about friends, and I figured, “I’ve never done an interview before, so why not?” It was actually pretty fun answering these questions about friends that I’ve gleaned from my years on this earth. However, I want to share the caveat that I am not an expert on relationships or friendships. That being said, it is the human experience, and we are all humans, so enjoy the ride. By the way, if anyone else is interested in hearing my thoughts on a particular topic, please feel free to email me questions about that (my email is jmcmanus1227@yahoo.com). Here we go…
Do you agree with the idea that “friends are the family we make ourselves” or are you someone who can say your best friends are also related to you?
I completely agree with the assertion that our friends can indeed become our family, even more so than the family we have. We all know that there are too many dysfunctional families out there, but if you don’t want to have someone as a friend, you can just drop them. If you don’t like your family, it is much harder because of societal expectations. Therefore, friends are definitely the family we create. We just need to remember that when we’re selecting friends we have to choose wisely. Our friends say a lot about us, and we are judged by the company we keep.
What do you think are the things we look for/give to/experience with our friends that we don’t with our families?
No matter how close your family is, there are things you wouldn’t discuss with them that you will with your friends. It is the telling, collecting, and sharing of these secrets with supposed impunity that we look for from our friends. In return we give them our trust and loyalty. Of course, we all know that those things can backfire because we are all human and this trust might be misplaced, but we have to have those connections regardless of the inherent risks possibly involved with having them. There are so many experiences you can have with friends that you can’t have with family too. Imagine going to a Maroon 5 concert with your mom. Wouldn’t you feel inhibited, as if you couldn’t dance or shout as loudly as you wanted? It is these inhibitions that may dullen our experiences, and make us feel deprived. A good friend will shout right along with you, and dance just as crazily as you are dancing.
What holds friends together and makes them “family” versus just friends? Is it common history, interests, something you can’t quite put a finger on?
It’s actually an individual thing, really, what holds friends together. Each pair of friends is different, and each group of friends is also different. What brings us together can either be the glue that holds us together, or the thing that ultimately tears us apart. If we find later that there is only one thing we have in common, that could unglue us, or turn us into acquaintances who just happen to have one thing in common. It’s the things we don’t have in common, though, the things that we discover together that become common, those things are the ones that hold us together. It is in that journey, together, and the subsequent destination, that we discover true friendship that can be as close or closer than family.
As part of a married couple, do you guys have other couples you consider “go to” friends or family? If yes, what does this look like? Shared holidays? In and out of each others’ homes each day? Kids all know each other?
It’s strange, really, with us. We have our individual friends, and they happen to have spouses or significant others, but we don’t tend to hang out in a large group for whatever reason. I’ve looked at other couples who do have those “go to” friends, though, and they have set brunches together once a month, they all hang out at each others’ houses all the time, and carpool the kids to school. For whatever reason, we don’t have that, but it looks interesting. I just wouldn’t even know where to begin to get that, though.

What is the difference between friendships among men versus those among women – and how does friendship evolve as we age?

Now, this one is the big one, and everything about it interests me. I’ll readily admit that I have way more female friends than male friends, for two simple reasons. Women talk about more in-depth subjects. Don’t let the magazines sway you from this point, but women are, for the most part, not the shallow ones. When you talk to a woman, you have a depth of conversation that isn’t there with most men. That’s not to say that men don’t have depth, but they don’t tend to share it with other men. Relationships between men are generally built around those shared interests that they already have. If you like to golf and I like to golf, let’s go for a round. But we’re not going to relate most other places except on the golf course. That doesn’t make for solid friends who tell each other everything and have a solid, deep relationship. I think that comes with men being raised from a young age to push down that emotionality, and not to share. This is why relationships between men tend to be superficial and short-lasting, unless they went to college together. This changes everything I just said. Something about being that young and living in dorms together, that creates a bond that is stronger than adult male bonds.

Women, on the other hand, tend to over-share if they do anything. Relationships between women are often very emotional because of this sharing. That also tends to make them volatile. I’m not saying that all women are over-emotional, but you know how it is with your girlfriends. They tend to over-analyze everything you say and do, so they might get upset easily over something simple, and suddenly a non-issue becomes a glaring issue.

Keep in mind, this isn’t generalizing, just my particular experience with female-to-female relationships. I am obviously not a female so I don’t have all the answers for that one. Please feel free to explain to me how the female-to-female friendship works for you, ladies. That’s what I love about life. It is always different for each person. Happy reading!

Sam

The Friendship Archive

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4 thoughts on “The Friend Q&A

Add yours

  1. I have family with whom I would share most everything and friends with whom I am circumspect and vice versa.
    Why not go out and have a good time with your mom? Maybe we set ourselves limits and deprive ourselves of good times.

    1. That’s not what I meant, setting limits. What I meant was that we choose friends based on compatibility and shared interests. Mothers don’t always share our interests and wouldn’t always be thrilled and appreciate Maroon 5 or whatever else we were into.

  2. Thanks for answering my questions, Sam! I’m talking to lots of folks and am finding common themes when it comes to experiences with friends and family. I’ll be sure to link back to you here when I post. Feel free to do the same if you feel it works.

    Also, in reading the comment above I found myself remembering a conversation I had with my son when he was in his twenties – he said, “thanks for not trying to be my friend.” These days, we can enjoy many things together but as close as we are and as much love as there is — the term “friend” doesn’t yet apply.

    1. I like how you used the word “yet.” Never give up on that one. It may happen yet, but even if it doesn’t, as long as respect and appreciation is there, I don’t see anything wrong with that kind of parent-child relationship.

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