Question of the Week: November 17th, 2015

What are your friendships like?

For all our discussion of the diversity of kinds of relationships, I often suspect there’s a lot of hidden diversity even in “ordinary” relationships like friendships.  So I’ll show the cards in my hand, and you can show yours.

My conception of “friend” matches up fairly well with the concept given by Facebook.  I consider lots of people friends, even if we only met a few times and never talk to each other.  Except that maybe there’s a slim chance that when one of us posts something on Facebook, the other will scroll past it.

I make a lot of friends by networking through meetup groups or student groups.  There’s always a steady trickle of new people, and some of them I get to know better.  Usually I stay part of these groups for much longer than anyone else, because I like making friends that way.  As a result, I have a lot of dormant friendships with former members of these groups.

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
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9 Responses to Question of the Week: November 17th, 2015

  1. Paige Turner says:

    I have a lot of trouble getting comfortable with people, so I don’t tend to consider people friends until we’re very close, with few exceptions (mostly online). In fact, my idea of friendship might be closer to the idea of a qp relationship than it is to a lot of other peoples friendships, just because I have so much trouble with being genuine and relaxed around people unless we’re practically attached at the hip. While this makes it harder for me to make friends, it also means that the few friendships I do have are incredibly important to me.

  2. Grey Wanders says:

    After living through the complex social minefield that was female socialization during my forth grade year, I decided I wouldn’t ever answer the question “Are you my friend?” and haven’t done so since. (I’m 24 now.) I do define friends internally though, and my definition is very stringent. I don’t know whether that came out of my refusal to declare my friendship or whether that’s what got me into trouble with it in the first place. Maybe a combination of both.

    To me a friend is someone whom I will intentionally seek out because I want to share something with them. That could be dinner, something I want to tell them about or show them, etc. There are plenty of people I enjoy talking to, and if I see them in the dining hall I’ll sit with them, but I’m never going to text them and ask if they want to eat. I generally only have a few people I think of as friends at any given time – five has been the maximum number active at a single point in time. Like Siggy’s, my friendships can go dormant.

  3. lex says:

    That is pretty much what my friendships are like too. I live in a different country from where I grew up and went to uni and I met quite a few people who have been staying in town and then moved away somewhere different. So I have friends who I don’t see very often but we speak online to varying degrees.In meatspace, I have a few friends who I only see one on one, and one core “friendship group” who live in the same city who I met through common interests, and we see quite a lot of each other, usually as the whole group rather than one on one although that also happens but much more rarely. I am involved in a few arts related communities/activities in my city and so I meet lots of people and make friends all the time. I have one friend who lives in a different place and so I only see her a few times a year now, but when we hang out we spend a whole weekend together; talking, going out, cuddling on the sofa. And obviously there are my housemates, who I also consider friends.
    I find it important to connect to lots of different people and have them in my life; I am interested in lots of different things so it only makes sense to make friends with different kinds of people to do different things with. Those people who have known me longer tend to know more about my personal life than those who haven’t, which is fairly standard; and the people I don’t speak to very often because they live far away are not necessarily less important than the ones who live here.

  4. Hollis says:

    I don’t have many friends that aren’t part of the whitewater community, and pretty much anyone that I’ve boated with more than once I consider a friend. But I also don’t go boating with people I don’t trust to have my back if shit hits the fan. Basically, if I boat with someone more than a few times, especially on class V, I trust that person with my life. With that level of trust, it seems silly to not consider them a friend.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve obviously noticed some big differences between my conceptualization of friendship and others’ descriptions of it. I don’t know that I necessarily have a real definition of friendship though, honestly. I sort of take it on a case-by-case basis. Whatever it is, my idea of it has changed a lot. I used to see friendship very differently, as only people who were relatively close (by one measure or another)… but I’ve had to greatly broaden my definition, because I eventually realized that it was severely limiting my ability to make and keep friends. When I was much younger (as in teenage years), I used to constantly think of most of the people who probably would’ve considered me to be a friend as “not REAL friends,” and pretty much just come up with tons of conditions that “true” friends would have to fulfill, or else they weren’t really friends. (This is probably something I will eventually elaborate on to continue my friendship series…)

    So as a result of all that… I have a much wider, looser conception of friendship now. I wouldn’t say it matches Facebook’s idea of friends—I’ve had classmates actually force me to add them on Facebook just to finish a project we had to do together, which is very much not-okay since FB is very triggering for me. They refused to communicate in any other way. But I also do consider a lot of people friends even if we don’t meet or talk to each other. Dormant friendships are pretty common for me, as my life circumstances have kind of forced a lot of friendships to go dormant anyway, even when we used to have a close and frequent connection. They’re still people I’d love to see and talk with again, given the chance, though often I’m not sure that they feel the same way about me.

    I’d say that most of my friends are from meetups or student groups, and that’s a large part of why they end up going dormant. It’s a lot harder to find places to meet people now that I’m out of school though, but I’m slowly building up a local social circle again after almost all of my friends in this area moved or fell out of contact with me.

  6. Pingback: My Experience of Friendship | From Fandom to Family: Sharing my many thoughts

  7. queenieofaces says:

    I feel like my experiences of friendship are super varied? Like I have Facebook friends who are mostly “people who wanted to friend me on Facebook who I can stand seeing their posts on my dash” (this includes research contacts but excludes That Guy From College With Opinions), I have my friend group from school some of whom I am genuinely close to and some of whom I’m…collegial with (I don’t really know a better term in English), I have friends in Japan who I only see about once a year (and who don’t know major parts of my life, like the fact that I have a girlfriend), I have my roommates and that associated friend group (includes: roommates, former roommates who still live in the area, partners of former roommates, other friends in the area who are friends with my roommates), I have friends from growing up and college (most of whom I see maybe once a year but keep in touch with online)… I tend not to think of myself as having a lot of friends, but then when my girlfriend and I started dating she was like, “omg, you have so many friends, how do you have time for all these friends?” and I was like, “I don’t have THAT many friends! I only have like *counts* uh…dozens…”

    (Also it’s interesting because the people who I will refer to as friends in English are different than the people who I will refer to as friends in Japanese–the latter is a much smaller group. But the English “acquaintance” doesn’t have the same connotations as the Japanese 知り合い, so it’s partially a vocabulary issue.)

  8. Acetylcholine says:

    I had friends in high school, but I never really saw them outside of class. In college, I found it much easier to make friends, and like Siggy, many of them were through student organizations. I really enjoyed working to accomplish goals with people to build a relationship. I had a few classmates who I would prefer to work on group projects with or chat with between classes, but not much beyond that. This was partially because I developed a group of 8 or so really close friends. We lived together after our first year, ate all of our meals together and hung out together at night and on weekends. We make plans to get together a few times a year now that we’ve left college and moved back home. I can see them being a constant part of my life for the foreseeable future. Having left school now, I am trying to figure out how to replicate some of the things I liked best about college ( like running into someone you know and chatting for a half hour on your walk to the student organizations building). While I would call all of these people my friends, they definitely fall into distinct categories with different levels of commitment and intimacy.

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