Friendships

Accidental Friendships

There are two kinds of common friendships which are more accidental than intentional.

The first is a friendship of utility. In this kind of relationship, the two parties are not in it for the affection of one another, but more so because each party receives a benefit in exchange. This friendship is not permanent in nature, and whenever the benefit ends, so does the relationship which brought the parties together. This friendship is more common amongst older folks.

An example of this would be a business or a work relationship, where you may enjoy the time you spend together, but once the situation changes, so does the nature of your connection.

Similarly, the second kind of accidental friendship is one based on pleasure. This kind however, is more common in people who are younger. It’s the kind of relationship frequently seen among college friends or people who participate on the same sports team. The source of such a friendship is more emotional, and it’s often the most short-lived of the relationships. It’s fine for as long as the two parties gain enjoyment through a mutual interest in something external, but it ends as soon as either tastes or preferences change.

Many young people go through different phases in their views on enjoyment, and quite often the people in their lives tend to change as the phase they’re in recalibrates over time. Most of the friendships that many of us have fall into these two categories, and while not necessarily bad, their depth limits their quality.

It’s fine, and even necessary, to have accidental friendships, but there is far more out there.

The Friendship of the Good

The final form of friendship is the most preferable.

Rather than utility or pleasure, this kind of relationship is based on a mutual appreciation of the virtues which the other party holds dear. It’s the people themselves, and the qualities they represent, which provides the incentive for the two parties to be in each other’s lives. Rather than being short-lived, such a relationship often lasts until the end - and there is generally a base level of goodness required in each person for it to exist in the first place.

People who lack empathy or care for others seldom develop these kinds of relationships, because more often than not, their preference is to look for pleasure or utility. Moreover, friendships of virtue take time and trust to build and they depend on mutual growth occurring.

You’re much more likely to connect at this level with someone when you’ve seen them at their worst and watched them grow from that, or if you’ve both endured mutual hardship together. Beyond the depth and intimacy, the beauty of such relationships is that they automatically include the rewards of the other two kinds of friendship. They’re both pleasurable and beneficial.

When you respect a person and care for them, you gain joy from being with them. If they’re a good enough person to warrant such a relationship to begin with, then there is utility as well. These relationships require time and intention, but when they do blossom, they do so with trust, admiration, and awe. They bring with them some of the sweeter joys life has to offer.

All You Need to Know

While there is value in accidental friendships based on pleasure and utility, their impermanence diminishes their potential. They lack depth and a solid foundation compared to the cultivation of virtuous friendships which are built with intention and based on a mutual appreciation of character and goodness - rather than on some transactional value. These friendships usually strengthen over time, and if they thrive, that friendship will last for life. Few things came close to the value of such a relationship.

It all makes sense. At the end of the day, the bonds we forge with those close to us directly shape the quality of our lives. We are, and we live through, the people we spend time with.

Life is far too short for the wrong kinds of friendship.