The Paradox of Friendship
Friendships are complex relationships and for the purpose of this article, friendship represents all forms of relationships you can think of. This is one reason I titled it the Paradox of Friendship
A lady I know is fond of complaining about how bad her friends are because they do not take her serious the way she takes them serious.
Her defence is always that she does stuff easily for her friends without them asking but her friends do not reciprocate her gestures when she needs them
While there might be solid argument in the above reason, I’m here to help you consider another possible perspective. Hopefully, it resonates.
Mr. A is an extreme extrovert. He talks a lot and he is very expressive. He is very vocal about his friends, feelings and ideas. He shares them to his friends at every slight opportunity he gets.
Mr. B on the other hand is more introverted. He doesn’t talk so much. Hence, he is not vocal about a lot of things like Mr. A. However, Mr. B is always ready to help Mr. A at every opportunity he gets.
Now, this scenario gives us the picture of two different individuals which we must never downplay when judging the outcomes of their characters.
Mr. A might one day feel offended that Mr. B is not vocal about their friendship and begin to doubt the friendship. Mr. A begins to think he is the only one in the friendship just because Mr. B hardly talks about their friendship.
Or better still, Mr. A is offended that he is always talking about his feelings, ideas and plans to Mr. B meanwhile, all Mr. B does is to listen and give advice to Mr. A per time. Mr. A feels bad that he doesn’t know anything about Mr. B
What Mr. A has forgotten about is that Mr. B is always there to help him whenever he needs help. Mr. B is always there to provide listening ears whenever Mr. A wants or needs to talk.
Two different personalities are at play. Mr. B may not intentionally withhold information from Mr. A it could be
• Mr. B needs to be nudged before sharing because of his introverted nature.
• Mr. B feels it is insensitive to talk about himself when Mr. A is talking
• Mr. B is a natural listener and has deep empathy.
The above analogy aims to argue from a personality perspective which most of the times, plays a major role in how we act towards others. Sadly, we never seem to consider it.
Back to my friend who is fond of complaining about how bad are friends her and always comparing them with herself, she might need to see friendship from a better perspective.
Helping her friends out is beautiful but her friends might naturally be slow action takers or not so sensitive to notice challenges and might need to be told or nudged before they proceed to provide help.
Her friends might not be bad people; they are only different people. Difference therefore eliminates the need for comparison and embraces the need for understanding.
Also, my argument aims to prevent us from falling into the trap of upholding ourselves as the standard. We are not and we can never be.
Friendship is about seeking to understand each party – our strengths, weaknesses, biases, etc. A lack of the desire to understand the other party(s) is the reason why a lot of friendships fail.
So, I’d ask a simple question today. Have you taken out time to understand your friend(s)? If the answer is YES, that’s good but remember human behaviour is not static, seeking to understand is a life long commitment.
If the answer is NO, get at it already.
This is the Paradox of Friendship.
The Paradox of Friendship