The Nature Of A True And Lasting Friendship

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The Nature Of A True And Lasting Friendship

Creating a friendship takes time and effort from both sides. A friendship is not a given state of affairs, nor is it static; similar to a living organism, a friendship is rather a transient and dynamic relationship.


But apart from its dynamic character, how is friendship defined? According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, friendship is "a distinctively personal relationship that is grounded in a concern on the part of each friend for the welfare of the other" (Helm, 2017). Friendships are an essential part of our lives partly because they require a moral concern for caring for our friend, and partly because they contribute to the development of our identity. The concern for our friend entails a particular kind of love and affection that is reciprocated. A necessary condition for a friendship to develop thus requires a continuous and significant amount of interaction between two persons.


There are various forms of friendship; Aristotle had distinguished three: friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure, and friendships of virtue. This entry discusses the nature of friendships of virtue - to use Aristotle's term - as the most genuine and longer-lasting form of friendship. Virtue friendships are founded on the appreciation of the qualities of our friend's virtuous character. Below, we briefly examine the three necessary conditions for the development of virtue friendships:


1) Joint activities


For a bond to be formed between two people, the two individuals must engage in a significant amount of shared activities. Apart from common day-to-day activities like talking, walking, making things, and playing together, it is also important that two friends create shared experiences through mutual interests and likings. Such are cultural activities that involve things like enjoying a musical concert together, going to the theatre or going on a trip. It is important to note that, in virtue friendships, joint activities should be performed by virtue of sharing and not by virtue of self-gain. Helping a friend, for example, to clean their house in order to get something back in return does not constitute a shared experience in the context of a genuine friendship. This is because the action is motivated by self-interest rather than by the shared enjoyment of the same experience.


2) Trust


Cultivating the bonds of intimacy requires building trust. Trust comes from sharing intimate details about one's life, and to be able to share something private requires being vulnerable. Trust then requires that there is no fear to open up and to be vulnerable to the other person. But just sharing personal information is not sufficient in building trust in a friendship. What is even more important is that the two friends can share with each other the things that they like and care about. Being able to share things that we like is crucial for a friendship as it reveals that we are able to be our true selves with no fear of being rejected.


3) Mutual concern


Mutual concern between two people is an essential part in forming a genuine friendship. Mutual concern means to care about each other's well-being and requires both sympathy and support. Caring about your friend for their own sake means to be affected by your friend's achievements and failures. It means to harbor sympathetic feelings such that of joy when our friend performs well and worry when our friend performs poorly. That is, we must feel the frustration in our friends' failures rather than in our friends themselves. In addition, caring must involve the promotion and growth of our friend for their own well-being and not for our own individual benefit.

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Thinking Humanity: The Nature Of A True And Lasting Friendship
The Nature Of A True And Lasting Friendship
Creating a friendship takes time and effort from both sides. A friendship is not a given state of affairs, nor is it static; similar to a living organism, a friendship is rather a transient and dynamic relationship. But apart from its dynamic character, how is friendship defined?
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