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The Art of Friendship

Ever since the beginning of the month of February, I had been perturbed about the deep-rooted connections of friendships. I do not mean acquaintances, but close friends. I may be one who is friendly and gets to make friends easily, yet I am one with a small circle-close friends. Recently, it dawned on me that (though not a recent discovery and phenomenon) the digital space that is supposed to connect us is rather leaving us lonely (oh yes, just incase you have not noticed). Interestingly, the social media is a beautiful world that is beneficial and enjoyable such that it breeds relationships. Truth be told, it only provides mere illusion (my opinion) as nothing, not even online communities can take the place of the real and in-person relationship. There’s just something unique and irreplaceable about the physical person to person connection.

Research affirms that it is important and sterling to have friends but not all friendships are explicitly good as it could be destructive, imbalanced, or exclusionary to mention a few. My curiosity took me back to Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics. Aristotle posits that “without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.” For him, true friendship is a virtue and one that allows for good in the world. Though I suggest some level of morality in friendship yet, the value we place in it makes it beautiful. Aristotle maintains that there are three kinds of friendship:

1) Friendships based on utility- Here, there is always something either or both parties gain.

2) Friendships based on pleasure- It is one that is premised on having pleasure or good time generally.

3) Friendships based on virtue- Both parties share similar or same values. Here, there is admiration (not comparison) and respect.

Aristotle holds that most young individuals keep friends for the sake of utility but unfortunately, they end up being disappointed. It is not to say that it is wrong to be hurt in friendship. In addition, he writes, “those who love because of utility love because of what is good for themselves, and those who love because of pleasure do so because of what is pleasant to themselves” but interestingly, what one finds pleasant or useful “is not permanent but is always changing; thus, when the reason for the friendship is done away, the friendship is dissolved.”

No doubt, the three types of friendship are important, only those premised on virtue-values are meaningful and long-lasting.

You may want to conclude that Aristotle’s schema is merely perceptive yet, it is utterly practical. Also, you may be questioning yourself about the category in which you fall into. It is okay to do that. Perhaps yours may be for utility or pleasure, there’s nothing wrong with that as there are times you need friendships for these specific reasons. Building friendships on virtue/values is not a one-night thing, it takes time to grow.

The only way to have a friend is to be one- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Published by Tobi Oloyede

Tobi Oloyede is a young visionary with a flair for personal and population developments. Rather than being pinned down by the challenges around her, she is dedicated to learning new ideas and getting the best out of life. She is one that is inspired by the popular Yoruba saying, "Ona kan o wo oja- There is no one/single route to the market." She holds her first degree in English and Literary Studies from the Ekiti State University, Nigeria, a Master's degree in Gender and Diversity from East Tennessee State University, and is currently a Sociology graduate student at Georgia Southern University. Writing is one of the several other things she loves to do and she brings it upon herself to make the world a better place through her writings. For her, 'the pen is always mightier and with it, she speaks volumes.' BE THE LIGHT, BE THE CHANGE…A BETTER YOU, A BETTER WORLD.

4 thoughts on “The Art of Friendship

  1. I have a couple of friends whom I don’t see often, but we are such kindred spirits that we can always pick up right where we left off. No putting on of airs or trying to impress. Such comfortable relationships. Thanks, Tobi, for reminding me of the value of friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As we grow older, the art of friendship takes on different dimensions….many of which I doubt even Aristotle would have foreseen. In truth, friendship is as complicated as any other relationship e.g. siblings, marriage, colleagues at work etc.

    Liked by 1 person

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