Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The needy friend

I had this thought about friendship: that genuine friendships involve a need on both sides. I had thought in the past that a friendship based on need was disingenuous, or even selfish. I had this idea that friendship had to be altruistic, and to be friends with somebody because you needed them was, in effect, to use them.

But when I think about the different relationships in my life, I notice that the deepest ones involve or have involved need. It is a need for companionship or connection, generally. It is the satisfaction of a mutual need that enables deep friendships to grow. This is why many of my lasting friendships were formed in places of uncertainty, loneliness and fear, and why it is difficult to form deep friendships when one is comfortable, content and already befriended.

This, I realise now, is a beautiful thing, because it means that the best, most fruitful connections - the ones that enrich our lives and make them worth living - come out of our hungry, vulnerable, infant-like selves. We are never complete, but for the relationships that hold us, and (conversely) it is this incompleteness, this empty space inside, that enables friendships to form. And not coincidentally, it is also this empty space that causes us to seek out and connect with God.

Isn't it lovely that friendship only exists because of loneliness? Isn't that the most hopeful thing?


sattler said...

What a lovely post. I wonder though, what happens to friendship when the sense of need subsides. Friendships sometimes have a sell-by date. Being an introvert I have a few close friends. I can also think of lapsed friendships which carry a sense of loss. Friendship is under-rated. Quite a few doomed romances could have been wonderful friendships.

Andreana said...

Hey Phil - I'm sorry I neglected to publish your comment! Must have got missed in the pile. Anyway, I think that usually friendships subside when the sense of need subsides. My 'need' theory helped me understand the ebb and flow of friendships, actually.