On this week’s show we open with a discussion of the history of happiness, and why happiness may be elusive. Soatok Dhole joins us to discuss our main topic, friendship — what is a good friendship, when is the right time to distance yourself from a friend, and how do you revive a fading friendship worth saving? We close with a question about how to handle developing feelings for a straight roommate.
A history of happiness explains why capitalism makes us feel empty inside
What is friendship?
“Essential and fundamental to friendship is that it is a natural, spontaneous, freely given and entered into relationship promised as much on subliminal cues that prompt liking as on anything that the parties could specify as a reason for engaging in it” – philosopher AC Grayling
Friend vs. friendly acquaintance
Common to both:
People who make you a better person
People who you enjoy spending time with
People who you have a history of shared experience with
People who share your values, your hobbies, your interests, and/or your kinks
Unique to friends:
People you can trust
People you can confide in
People you can be yourself around
Problems arise when you expect loyalty from someone you considered a friend, but who views you as a friendly acquaintance
What is a bad friendship?
“Our friends aren’t toxic — they’re just human”
Ephrat Livni - Quartz
Many people argue a “bad friend” is one who consistently brings you down or holds you back
“The current cultural discourse suggests that friends are people who we use to improve ourselves, and get rid of when the going gets tough or if we’re not having enough fun. … It’s friendship as a capitalistic exchange, instead of relationships involving people who care about each other, hanging out, and helping each other through life’s ups and downs.”
This philosophy leads many people to treat their friends as disposable, and to abandon them when they need support and are not contributing to the friendship — right when they need a friend the most
It is important to remember the golden rule in friendship, and to treat others as we’d like to be treated
You wouldn’t want to be abandoned during a time of hardship when you couldn’t be there for your friends as much as you’d like to be
Abandoning a friend at the first sign of conflict or distress in the relationship will leave you with very few friends
It is often worth it to attempt to reconcile or ignore certain conflicts for the sake of maintaining an otherwise valuable friendship
Friends who consistently do not support you, who do not share your values, and who have a history of being unreliable may be less worthy of continued or increased investment of time and other resources
In some circumstances, it can be worthwhile to invest in old friendships even when values and goals have drifted apart, for the sake of having someone who can “ground you” in your own history
It is difficult for new friends to offer the same level of insight that old friends can provide to you
If you have many old friends, and a particular friendship is no longer offering benefit to either of you, it is okay to let a friendship turn back into a friendly acquaintanceship
Keep in mind: people change over time (and that’s ok!)
What is a good friendship?
In general, it is wise to invest in friends who:
Share your values
Support you as you pursue your goals
Point out your weaknesses and mistakes in a loving way
It can be tempting to seek friends who tell you everything you do is awesome, but it’s wise to have a few close friends who can call you on your mistakes
Assume good faith: When your close friends suggest you’ve done something wrong, it is generally because they care about your success, and not because they want to put you down
Have a history of being trustworthy and reliable
It isn’t all about you
“Real friendship is a kind of love, writes philosopher Bennet Helm. As such, it must ‘involve a concern for your friend for his sake and not for your own.’”
It isn’t a great idea to be friends only with people who tell you everything you do is good
“A true friend didn’t just flatter and please. Quite the contrary, their value lie in the fact that they sometimes corrected or fought with their pals, to whom they’d give their all.”
Criticism that comes from a place of loyalty and respect, with the intent of making you a more authentic version of yourself, is very different from someone tearing you down
When you’re around a good friend, you should feel liberated to act with authenticity.
How do you revive a friendship?
How to Revive a Friendship
Anna Goldfarb — The New York Times
Start by “identifying what variables, if any, have changed since your falling out.”
“Maybe you’re in a more stable place in life and are confident you can be a better, more attentive friend this time around.”
“Thinking about the reasons you grew apart and how things might be different now can help you take the steps needed to rebuild a closer and longer lasting friendship.”
Make the first move!
If neither of you reach out, you won’t talk
Being vulnerable and honest about missing your former friend can help you reconnect if they’re feeling the same way
Be prepared for rejection
Game out what you’d say and what you’d do to feel better if you are rejected
Assume good faith
It’s possible your friend would love to talk to you, but the thought just hasn’t occurred to them, because many other things are on their mind
It’s harmless to remind them you exist and would like to talk
Establish interest in re-establishing the friendship before jumping into emotionally difficult topics
Go in as if this were a new friendship
Start small with light topics and catching up on what is new with each of you
Good topics for conversation are anecdotes and requests for advice that focus on what is shared between you right now
Similar life experiences
Places you’ve both been to
Where you are in life
Try socializing at first in a group setting
Outing to a park for a hike or picnic
Try to present your best self
This will remind your former friend what they liked about you to begin with
It isn’t always possible to get back to the same level of friendship you had before
Be willing to accept a less intimate relationship, at least at first
None for this week
I live with my best friend, who is a straight male. I am a gay male furry, and I am crushing hard on the the friend that I live with. How can I continue to be friends with him given the feelings I cannot share?
Received via Telegram (name withheld)
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Joel Kreissman is a published author of anthropomorphic science-fiction in his Para-Imperium universe. His first novel, The Pride of Parahumans, was published with Thurston Howl publications in 2017 and he has more free stories on his blog at https://paraimperium.wordpress.com/