Did you have a so-called “best friend” that used you and betrayed you? How about a friend that you always hang out with because you have the same hobbies and interests yet you are not really comfortable sharing your secrets with? And then there is the third kind, the rarest kind, a friend whom you hardly see yet you know will always be there for you no matter what?
Ancient Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, on his Book VIII on Nichomachean Ethics, stated that there are three kinds of friends that you will encounter in life. For Aristotle, friendship is a partnership, a mutual feeling of goodwill between two people. While there are three kinds of friendships, only one kind is the perfect kind. Two kinds are imperfect, one is based on utility while the other is based on pleasure.
Aristotle further stated that the two imperfect kinds are not necessarily bad. Time is needed to completely know and love a person. Thus, the two kinds after a long period of time, can actually lead to the third kind. You will always have all three kinds of friendships present at any given point in time in your life.
Friendships of Utility
Friendships of Utility is a kind of friendship wherein two people considered each other friends mainly because of the benefits that they get from one another. It is not normally based on affection. You make or may not like the other person but that person is important to you because you get something from the friendship. Unfortunately, this kind of friendship is temporary. Once the benefit ends, so does the friendship. An example of this kind of friendship is the relationship between business partners or co-workers.
There is nothing wrong with this kind of friendship because it is needed for the society to function. Normally, both parties are aware of the kind of relationship that they have, especially if the relationship is on a professional level.
Problems arise when one person treats the other as a genuine friend while the other thinks otherwise. This normally occurs if the other is a long time friend, not simply somebody whom you just met on a business deal. The expectations are deeper. You already feel like something is off in the relationship like for example, the person only calls you when he/she needs something, yet you are in denial. Let’s face it, it is hard to accept and it hurts to know that somebody whom you have trusted and known for so long is just using you.
If something like this ever happens to you, just accept the fact that the relationship that you have had with that friend is simply just that – a friendship of utility. As Paolo Coelho, on The Alchemist said, it is time to close that chapter in your life, no matter how painful it can be. Your journey together has ended.
Friendships of Pleasure
The second type of friendship is purely based on pleasure. Often, these are friends whom you do things with – the people whom you go the gym with, who you go shopping with, who you play golf with, your so-called activity buddies. You love spending time with them. You are happy when you are with them but for some reason, you can’t seem to show them the other side of you. You are not comfortable opening up to them. You would rather keep your problems to yourself.
This type of friendship is imperfect because the only reason why you spend time with them is because you want to have a good time. Like the friendships of utility, this kind is short-lived. The thing that connects you both is simply external. Once your preference changes, the feeling of mutual enjoyment will no longer be there. For example, you used to love playing golf until you discovered that you enjoy playing soccer more. Because of this, you no longer spend so much time hanging out with your golf buddies because your preference has changed.
Friendships of the Good
This kind of friendship is the perfect kind. It goes beyond utility and pleasure. It is based on respect, goodness, sincerity and mutual trust. You are not trying to get anything out of it. You share each other’s pain and happiness. You don’t have to worry about putting your best self forward. They will accept you for who you are despite your flaws. They will not tell you what you want to hear but rather they will tell you what you need to hear. They always have your best interests at heart. Neither time nor distance can break you apart. It doesn’t matter even if you don’t see each other often, what matters is that you know they are always there for you no matter what.
This kind of friendship is hard to find but once you do find it, you need to learn to treasure it. If you value it, it can last for a lifetime.