Friendship and expectations

In the area of friendship, I have certain expectations of a “friend” that I might not have of everyone else around me. Let me begin by describing the expectations I have of everyone, including strangers, and work forward.

1. I expect honesty and general good will from everyone.

Honesty is different from openness. By honesty I mean that what one says is truthful and there is no attempt to decieve, but that doesn’t mean that the other person will necessarily tell me everything. This means that if someone asks me something I am uncomfortable with answering, I would prefer to say “I don’t want to talk about that” than to answer with a lie. In return I expect people to not lie to me.

By general good will I mean that I expect people not to try and hurt me on purpose. I expect that normal people will try to avoid hurting others.

2. From a friend, I expect some openness, and I expect that they will have time for me. I also expect that they will be aware of my needs and wants and respect them.

Some openness in this context is a higher level of sharing. I am a pretty open person, meaning that it is pretty easy for me to talk about things that others might consider “private” even with a stranger. I don’t have a lot of “secrets” of my own, though I do keep other people’s private information private.

However, I don’t expect everyone else to have this level of sharing with me. Not all of my friends will lay out all the details of their lives for me. But, at a minimum, I expect my friends to tell me what they think about me and how they feel about me. These are important details that I need to know in order to maintain a proper friendship. This also means that I expect my friends to not talk about me behind my back, meaning that they won’t say something to someone else about me which they were not willing to say directly to me.

I expect that friends will have time for me, meaning that they will be available to talk or get together and do something from time to time. I’m not going to set out a specific schedule of activities with required attendance, but we should be able to agree on some activities we like to do together, even if it is just talking or something. I want to know that my friend is willing to spend some time with me just because I asked, not just based on whether the activity is interesting, meaning that I should be able to say “I want to see you” and not have to arrange an interesting activity to keep their interest. We are likely to share some interests, so a diversion seems likely, but that’s not the sole reason for our time together.

A friend should be aware of my needs and wants, though in most cases he will not prioritize them higher than his own. For myself, my needs and wants and those of my loved ones come first, then if I am able to do a favor or kind deed for a friend, I will. I will often give up something that I want to give my friend something he wants (or needs) depending on the balance of the two needs/wants. For example, I may give up a few hours of my free time to be there for a friend, if it is something important to him, or I may give up a few dollars of spending money to get him a gift I know he will appreciate.

3. From loved ones, I expect complete openness, and I expect that they will place my needs and wants alongside their own.

By complete openness I mean that I expect my loved one to not keep secrets from me. I expect her to be able to tell me anything and everything, except for something told by someone else in confidence.

I also expect that she will place my needs and wants alongside her own. To me this means that our needs and wants are measured together and we will decide together how to best meet both my needs and hers. This usually means we will pool our resources, but not necessarily.

I may have missed some things, so I may go back and edit this later. Comments welcome, if you think of something I forgot, comment here or write me…

0 thoughts on “Friendship and expectations

  1. ambar

    You write “By complete openness I mean that I expect my loved one to not keep secrets from me.”

    I question the workability here (unless you only pair off with other naturally open people :-). I can think of qualifiers that might make it more functional (say, “not keep secrets involving me”.) But I assert there are always going to be things about me that my partners don’t know (and vice versa), even with the best and most open of intentions; people are both complex and evolving, and not to be wholly comprehended in a single {month, year, decade} of relating.

    Writing as someone for whom openness does not come particularly naturally (that’s a well-cultivated reputation, thank you), I can guarantee that there are some aspects of me that don’t get shared with a partner until the time is right. Which may be a half-hour before the end of the universe — one never knows. I speculate that this has to do with preserving my self-definition as an independent cuss.

    1. nekodojo

      Thanks for the perspective on that… I probably could just as easily say “don’t keep secrets about things that concern me,” and may edit to say that at some point. That’s a bit of a vague directive, and the actual level of sharing would probably vary by person, as you say…

      This probably points to another expectation or two that I didn’t touch on before, for loved ones: Unconditional acceptance. By this I mean not asking me to change who I am (though I might change my behavior sometimes). This works both ways… if I have a dark secret in my past, I want the freedom to tell someone and know that they will not run screaming, but I also won’t trust someone’s claim that I’ve been Unconditionally Accepted until after they get a glimpse of the closet and see a skeleton or two. Hmm.

      1. amcnh

        Unconditional acceptance et al.

        I understand completely what your talking about here. I pretty much have the same expectations. Unconditional acceptance is one of them. However I do not expect that my partner will demand that I change or that I change for them, I do expect and will reciprocate that I shall be challenged by them. It is only in being challenged that we can grow. Unconditional acceptance as you have stated here is one of the corner stones of what I feel is a true partnership. How can you cultivate honesty and openness without this very vital key? I honestly don’t think that it is possible.

        Unconditional acceptance really teeters on an important concept perhaps, unconditional love. Love in its purest and simplistic form, in my opinion, does not have conditions or expectations. Love will reciprocate, because unconditional love cannot be selfish it cannot be taken only given. Unconditional love is giving for the sake of giving and expecting that that love may not be returned. That’s a really hefty concept right there; love for the sake of loving with no expectations in return.

        But I have to go on step further, that if two people love each other without conditions then there is no need for expectations, because all of this comes naturally. Unconditional acceptance, unconditional love are these two foreign concepts to the majority of individuals? If so what would our world be like if we fostered more of these more positive unconditional traits? Typically when you see the word unconditional it has so many negative connotations.

        The type of love that I am referring to here can really only exist between two people. It would be idyllic if you could express your love for your friends in such a manner, however some will be intimidated by it or others grateful. Perhaps my rose colored glasses are a bit too rose colored. But what a wonderful world it could be, no?

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