The Value or Not — Friendship Equated

Saturdays around here are quiet days. I read a bit on Facebook for whatever reason. It’s not like I find a lot of value there but most or all of the people I’m friended up with are real friends. This got me thinking today about the value of friendship as one gets older. I’ve gone through multiple generations of friends. Some were close and then drifted apart. Others have passed on and left that void which does not simply fill up after the time goes by. Yet others I have felt that were friends never deserved the title. Perhaps I am demanding or demented but I have a theory of friendship and perhaps I’m wrong. Would not be the first time.

It goes like this:

Friendship is a bartering thing. Each person arrives with something to get and give and the get and give is value. Not just material value but thought, feeling, other value. If a person has to give and never gets that is not friendship folks. That’s something else. If the other person only takes and never gives that also is not friendship. Again, it’s something else.

This produces a dialog for me when I question those that recently have only taken and never arrived at the friendship table with something to offer that equals what they want. Take person R for example. He wants only information from me. He wants a name of a person that can do X. I ask for a thing from R but he cannot do it. Where is the equality in that?

Person E has a similar view where he will not email, call, contact me unless he wants something. He is not in it for the exchange where each of us gets something of value. He only wants and does not offer up a thing of value.

So in my stunted and questionable world view, these are not friends. They are not colleagues or any other almost friend like acquaintance either. They occupy some other less vaunted space and I merely decide to stop the communication.

I also think as I get older friendship becomes even more difficult. Someone at work asked whether I still wanted a relationship because that is of value. A relationship is also an exchange and a bartering. Both people arrive with a thing of value. Without that, its not a relationship. My mom used to say “its give and take. If one goes away, the other takes over”. Such it is. And as I get older and more feeble and more opinionated it dawns on me that I have raised the bar higher or others have. Some will only call when they need a thing. The hell with them. Others will ask for a thing. The hell with them. If you are with me, be with me. Arrive with a thing of value and if you value mine, we have something. If you are just there to take, I may put up with you but what you are putting up there is not friendship. It may be manipulation.

So for people R and E I can simply say that in my world view which is crazy and old and full of contradiction (whose is not) you are not there. You don’t get the full monte and not give the full monte.

Have you thought out what friendship is to you? Do you just offer yourself up like some sacrificial lamb and take the worst that people give and call them friends in need? Getting old means I can be brutally honest with people R and E and others. Here’s the answer:

Don’t assume. When you do you make an ass of you and me.

I still value friendship when its a thing we both arrive at. Unfortunately, those are few and far between and I’ve moved on expecting them. Consider it yourself. What is the importance of friendship in your life? How do you estimate a friend? Do you have friends in the workplace? Do you imagine after sustaining a divorce or separation that another relationship is out there for you?

Sometimes I feel that certain things, because I’m getting older, I can speak about as my experiment of one.

Author: Michael Perry

I've been blogging for over 20 years and now am living in Southeast Asia. The blog is about my slow vagabonding wherever I want to go. My home base is in Cambodia but I'm rarely there.

One thought on “The Value or Not — Friendship Equated”

  1. I can totally relate to everything you wrote here. Experiencing this myself the past five years as I headed into my forties.

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