Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend. ~Plautus
I was watching an episode of Seinfeld the other day. It was the one where Elaine had a cool new boyfriend and George took a liking to him too because he was so cool. The cool boyfriend was kind of a cool skater/rock climber kind of dude and George had kind of a man-crush on him. He started dressing like him and talking like him and trying to make sure they had their own one on one buddy time - even volunteering to make sandwiches to share on their adventures. Well, as usual, things didn’t go well for George. He ended up being the cause of this cool guy falling off the climbing wall (because he was trying to hand him a sandwich) and the Cool Guy decided that poor George just wasn’t chill enough to hang with him – even with the sandwiches.
I’ve had cause to think some about friendship over the past couple of weeks and just what makes a friendship satisfying or…un.
To me the very best kind of friend is someone I have a great time with, someone I can laugh with (I mean really laugh).
My best kind of friend is one with whom I can have open conversations, and who will prove loyal.
My best kind of friend appreciates my good qualities but also tries to help me mend my negative qualities - kind of the personality equivalent of the friend who’ll tell you when you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe.
My best kind of friend encourages an honest and open dialogue and will volunteer to give (as well as receive) feedback and advice about different aspects of life not only because they care about me, but also because they want positive things to happen in my life.
My best kind of friend is a source of inspiration and motivation and we can hopefully learn from each other’s mistakes.
This kind of friend is very rare and hard to find. If you’re lucky you have this kind of relationship with a sibling or a parent. If you’re really lucky you can find this kind of friend in your husband or wife. And sometimes you just luck out and this kind of friend finds you.
Sometimes though I’m forced to remind myself that these are things that I enjoy in a friend – but not everyone wants the same thing that I do or sees a friendship in the same way. Sometimes I guess we can all feel like George Costanza, trying to force a certain level or kind of friendship on someone (sometimes friend, sometimes family) who just isn’t interested.
This situation kind of played itself out for me the other day while I was having (or trying to have) a conversation with a friend. It reminded me of the movie Surrogates. There’s a scene in the movie where “real” Bruce Willis is trying to talk to his wife through her “Surrogate-self.” You know from watching the movie that the surrogate operator can just disconnect from their surrogate unit at any time by simply removing their neurological stimulator control headpiece thing; and when they do remove it, the surrogate just shuts down. So “Real Bruce” is talking to “Surrogate Wife,” but she gets exasperated with him and shuts down her unit. So there’s poor “Real Bruce” trying to extract an emotional response from a completely disconnected party – let’s just say I could relate.
It’s all kinds of adjectives – sad, embarrassing, exasperating, awkward to assume a level of friendship and emotional intimacy if both parties aren’t willing to engage. I guess the thing to try and figure is whether it's ok to keep pushing or whether I should just take my sandwiches and go home.