Gentleman’s guide to Dinner Etiquette “A gentleman is one who puts more into the world
“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg, even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”
I spoke to an old friend over the telephone a few days back and we spoke about a number of things past and present, businesses and future plans. I was still reflecting on our conversation afterwards when I realized I have known this lady for years more than half my age!
Interesting, isn’t it? It made me examine how the years have gone by and what has made up the most of it, the quality of the friendships in my life and I wondered if it was time for another “Audit”. This is a periodic exercise where I evaluated people around me to ascertain if we are still solid or its time to create some distance.
I was sitting in my high and mighty, exalted position when a thought came to me asking ‘what kind of friend are you to your friends’? if roles were switched, would your friends want to continue being friends with you? To say I got pretty uncomfortable would be an understatement, this is what prompted this article. I would be glad if we can all take this evaluation together.
To start with, what really is friendship?
Friendship for most people is a combination of affection, loyalty, love, respect, and trust. It means familiarity and liking of each other’s mind. It infers kindness, generosity, honesty and a state of vulnerability.
Friendship goes beyond just sharing time together, for most people it is a lifelong commitment similar to ‘…..till death do us part’ without a priest or a congregation to witness it of course.
The spiritual core reason for a friendship is that it can—and is meant to—help us change and grow. Friends are people who call us on our issues, push us to grow, and support us through this process. We can’t overestimate how important good friends are to our growth in life.
Let’s ponder on some things here:
Does any of the friendships in my life fit the description up there?
Yes, it does, congratulations!
No, it doesn’t. hmmm, lets proceed we may just be able to unravel the reasons together.
A more pertinent question to ask here is “am I a friend that can be called or banked on when my friends have challenges?
Let us describe the types of friendships, perhaps this will tell us the general category we fall into as we analyze the friendships in our lives.
According to Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, the old Greek dude has plenty of interesting insights, and makes a number of well-reasoned value judgments. His is a name we are familiar with amongst philosophers. He devotes a lot of time and thought to the question of friendship–about one-tenth of his long treatise, in fact.
Aristotle figured there were three kinds of friendships:
Friendships of utility: exist between you and someone who is useful to you in some way. For instance, you are friends with this person because they allow you use their resources without much qualms, free of charge. Simply put, it is all about what is in it for you.
It’s well-known that some people use others for their own gain. Some people do it a lot and other people would never think of it. True, we should expect to get something out of a friendship; support, trust, good times, etc. But there are people who will flatter and manipulate others to get very different kinds of things: social status, recognition even free food and luxuries.
Friendships of pleasure: exist between you and those whose company you enjoy. For instance, those group of friends you call upon when it is time to go clubbing, your ‘owambe’ partner, soccer buddies. the kind of person with whom you enjoy a little chit-chat or a good joke. Would “friendships with benefits” fall into this category–because you’re both enjoying the sexual pleasure? Or into the first category, because you’re using each other for sex? Oops! I digress.
Friendships of pleasure come about because we do like some-or many-aspects of that person, it could be their sense of adventure, their spiritedness or even their mannerisms. Simply put, this friendship is purely there for hedonistic reasons, no real substance or basis.
Friendships of the good: are based on mutual respect and admiration. These friendships take longer to build than the other two kinds–but they’re also more powerful and enduring. They often arise when two people recognize that they have similar and overlapping values and goals; that they have similar visions for how life works. It’s a friendship that goes beyond utility or pleasure. Instead, you truly appreciate the other person for who they are. Friends in this category holds your secrets. They know the real you, flaw and all.
There’s also generosity here because you aren’t trying to get anything out of it. All you want is to have a nice time together, share your lives, and be a shoulder for them to lean on. Not infrequently, they begin in childhood, adolescence or college–though plenty form after that, too.
Now, let’s filter the friendships in our lives using these broad categories and understand how each of it fit into our big picture. If we are being honest we will begin to realize the ones where we are the users or the used, our friendships of pleasures and the ones that are important to the core of our soul.
For the sake of emphasis, none of these type of friendship is inherently wrong, you could be a friend in any of the three categories to different people, we honestly need a good dose of all of it to give us a well-rounded life. Come on, you may only be trying to be friends with a senior colleague at work so they can put in a good word for you during appraisals. Having a few friendships to help you loosen up for pleasurable reason is not a bad idea, it is only important to know which one to invest our time, passion and energy in.
For instance, if you only keep friends around you for what they can do for you, if won’t be long before people start to stay away from you because you would only give out the vibes of a selfish person, a manipulator and a user. We should never forget that people are not things to be used, one may just be heading for a long lonely life if we cultivate friendships for this purpose only.
If your friends feel good around you, you should count it all joy! But is that the only reason they come to you? Only when it’s time to paint the town red or hear the latest celebrity gossip in town? What more is there for your friends? Are you that friend that will only buy his buddy a bottle of beer but would not lend a penny to get them out of a tough spot? Look around you, what is your value-add?
You may ask how you would know you are good friend, below are few characteristics of a good friend; –
A good friend is trustworthy– They offer you a sounding board to test ideas and show our true selves while knowing they won’t betray our confidences or make us feel ashamed of our weaknesses.
A good friend is loyal– A good friend will stand by you during good times and not-so-easy times, for instance when you are going through financial crisis, they’ll stand by you. We know how easy it is to lose friends during hard times but good friends are all in, no matter what.
A good friend is kind– The kindness of a good friend is more the “stand with you” variety. Rather than give you the shirt off their back, they’ll make sure that both of your needs are tended to so that there’s never a need for either of you to greet the world half naked.
A good friend is supportive- will go out of their comfort zone to be there, giving reinforcement and encouragement.
A good friend is honest – doesn’t hide behind “I don’t want to hurt your feelings” they tell you the truth and help you to see reason.
A good friend is accepting– unconditional acceptance of you are but never afraid to tell you the unpleasant truth of a situation or your behaviour
A good friend listens and lends a shoulder – a sounding board rather than a coach. Actively listens without judgment and is willing to infuse you with strength to carry on.
A good friend is emotionally available– makes you feel heard and acknowledges you as an individual and your point of view. They have to be physically present to be emotionally available.
A good friend shows up during tough times – While it’s easy to be there for somebody during the good times, it’s even more amazing to be there for them during the not-as-good ones. “Good friends show up for the tough times.
A good friend reciprocates – they never take without giving in return. The friendship is symbiotic, selfless and never about keeping scores.
A good friend has the best interest of their friend in mind – Good friends can be your biggest cheerleaders and your greatest advocates, “They are accountability buddies, keeping you focused on what’s most important various points in your life — even during the times when you may doubt yourself and your own self-worth.
These characteristic stated are by no means exhaustive, but again I ask which of these do you exhibit in your dealings with people you call friends?
So back to my exalted position where I sat, trying to judge my friends about everything they are or aren’t to me. I have done my own self-evaluation, humming Randy Newman’s soundtrack for Toy Story – “you’ve got a friend in me” to myself, it is time for you to do yours at well, are you a good friend?
About the Author
Jolade is a wannabe writer who really thinks she should be a pasta chef. She is an avid day dreamer with a big mansion she resides in her head. With this one, you should expect the unexpected. She happens to like music and a great conversationalist.
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