How are You at Being a Friend?

Love is blind; Friendship Closes its Eyes


It’s important you surround yourself with good friends. You can tell what type of friend you are by paying attention – look at Aristotle’s description of friendship.
Aristotle described three kinds of friendship — note not everyone is a best friend. After looking at the models below, you’ll be better equipped to evaluate your friendships.
#1 Useful or selfish friendships -- you buy stuff from and sell stuff to people. You are useful to each other, and you wish each other well, but these friendships tend to last about as long as the utility lasts. (I love what you do for me. If you quit doing it for me, Ill find someone else who will.)
#2 Pleasurable friendships -- you delight in each other’s company or bodies. These are people you love to be around. To Aristotle, this is a much higher friendship than useful friends. (You please me, and when Im no longer pleased with you, Ill find someone else.)
#3 the ultimate kind of friendship -- the one that really lasts, is when you love the same thing, and that thing is “high”. For example, in the military esprit de corps (is a common devotion to a cause among the members of a group) is considered a high thing (If you love the same thing and it low, it will be corrupting, and youll turn on each other.)
Another way to look at friendship is:
  • A good friend will do what is best for you.
  • A good friend will never knowingly say or do anything that would hurt you.
  • A good friend will help and support you if you are down. They would not stand by and let you hurt yourself.
  • A good friend will never be jealous of your success. Success won’t change the relationship.
Based on the above standard -- “Are you a good friend?” Becoming the kind of person on the list above is one of the best preparations you can make for future successful relationships. Any successful relationship is not easy; you have to work at it. A successful relationship requires
  •  Patience good friends never pressure their friends.
  • Consideration in every relationship you are the kindest most considerate person on the planet no one-up-man-ship. You celebrate other peoples stories.
  • You come before me/unselfish attitude -- I don’t advance my own interests, desires and goals.
One of the best lessons I ever taught was purely accidental. In my Human Growth and Development unit, I gave what I thought were excellent lessons on the difference between Love and Selfishness. I told the students, when it comes to friendship, you have to know who loves you. You have to be able to differentiate between the person who loves you and the person who will use you. Knowing the difference between love and selfishness (users) helps you to know who to really listen to, and it helps in better decision making.
A few weeks after teaching the Unit, a situation arose in class where I realized, that what I thought had been a series of great lessons, were really more abstract than great. Here’s what happened. I was walking around the class when I noticed an A student doing an assignment I had graded the night before. I asked her, “Why are you doing this? Didn’t you turn this in yesterday?” Her explanation was inadequate. I picked up the assignment and told her that we could discuss this more after class got started on their new assignment. (I wanted to give her another opportunity to tell me the truth.) Five minutes later, we were sitting at my desk in front of the class and she quietly explained to me that it was for her best friend. They really liked each other and he asked her to finish his assignment.
My response was to ask if she remembered when our class talked about the difference between love and selfishness. We talked about givers and takers. If her friend really cared about her, he would never have asked her to do his work. He was asking her to cheat for him. By asking her to do his work, he had put her in a position that directly affected her reputation. This was a very selfish request. He was thinking about what was good for him. As I was talking to her, her facial expression slowly changed. All of a sudden, the difference between love and selfishness was no longer an abstract idea; he clearly used her. You could see him slumping deep into his seat, as she turned to ROAST him. To her surprise, I pointed out that she had used him too. (Around this time, I noticed my class was very quiet, leaning forward, and trying to listen or to read our lips. For them, the concept of love or selfishness was now being dramatically applied to real life. The kids had known she was cheating for him.) She looked at me and I said, “If you really cared about him, you would have forcefully told him, “you are very intelligent, you need to do your own work.” If you had said No, he might find someone else to do his work. He’s cute, you could be replaced. You didn’t want to risk that.”
Right then the bell rang, instead of rushing out the door, the class just sat there looking at me, him then her and back to me. There was absolute quiet; the kids knew something important had just happened. It ended up being one of the best lessons I taught all year. It was about relationships, how you treat people, what you should expect or even demand from friends. Very slowly, the couple left the class, looking at each other. Their relationship had changed — they both knew it — they didn’t really care about each other; they were using each other. A couple of kids, walked by, and said “Mrs. McCoy you ruined it. They were both so happy with each other.” My reply was, “Now they know the basis of their relationship was selfishness — they’re seeing each other differently now. Do you think they should be satisfied with that selfish relationship, or do you think they’ll demand more from each other?” “Did you learn anything today?”
The lessons that have real impact are the ones that connect the abstract concepts with how you live your life. Those two kids really thought they cared about each other. They were both good kids, but na├»ve, and that moment in class they were confronted with reality. They were using each other for something low — she had a cute boyfriend, they were a couple and he had a cute girlfriend who would risk her reputation by cheating for him. What happens next if you keep the standard low? What happens when you demand that a good friend be:
  •  Someone who does what is best for you
  • Someone who never knowingly says or does anything that will hurt you
  • Someone who helps and supports you when you if you are down. The one who does not stand by and let you hurt yourself
  • Someone who is not jealous of your success (The person who knows that any success will not change their relationship.)
You have got to figure out who loves you. You can tell just by observing. The people, who love you, treat you differently.

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