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Lesson 20

                          What Does Friendship Mean to You?

                                             Text A
Mr Brooks, Martin, Robert and Jean are being interviewed on subject of friendship.
Mr BROOKS:   I consider friendship to be one of the most important things in
  life-whatever your status, married or single. I see too many lonely people
  around. A lot of us get so involved with material values, family problems,
  'keeping up  with the Joneses,' etc. , that we forget the real meaning
   of friendship.
INTERVIEWER:   Which is what., according to you?
R BROOKS:   They say `a friend in need is a friend.indeed' which is partly true, but a  
  real friend should also be able to share your happy moments- without feeling
  jealous. A good friendship is one where you accept and forgive faults,
  understand moods, and don't feel hurt if a friend doesn't feel like seeing
  you. Of course, honesty is an essential part of any reIationship. We
  should learn to accept our friends for what they are.
INTERVIEWER:   As a married man, do you find your frier ships are only with other men?
MR BROOKS:   Of course not! Both my wife and I have m and women friends-thank goodness.   
  ALthouhg family life is fulfilling, it isn't nough! Both my wife and I get
  tremendc satisfaction from our friends, married a single, male and
  female-and we both ha our separate friends too. We'd get bored with each
  other if we had the same friends!
INTERVIEWER:   You must have a full life.
MR BROOKS:   We certainly do! And as I say, our friends give us a lot of pleasure. After 
  all, friends should not be people with whom .you kill time. Real friendship,
  in my opinion, is a 'spiritually developing' experience.(Martin, Robert and
  Jean are being interviewed on the subject of friendship. )
INTERVIEWER:   How important are friends to you, Martin?
MARTIN:   I've never had a lot of friends. I've never regarded them as particularly
  important.Perhaps that's because I come from a big famil Two brothers
  and three sisters. And lots cousins. And that's what's really important me.
  My family. The different members of my family. If you really need help,
  you get from your family, don't you? Well, at least that's what I've always
  found.
INTERVIEWER:   What about you, Jean?
JEAN:   To me friendship... having friends, people I know I can really count on...
  to me that's the most important thing in life. It's more important even than .
  love If you love someone, you can always fall out of love again , and that 
  can leadto a lot of hurt feelings , bitterness, and so on. But a good a
  friend is a friend for life.
INTERVIEWER:   And what exactly do you mean by a friend?
JEAN:   Well, I've alreadys said, someone you know you can count on. I suppose what I 
  really mean is... let's see, how am I going to put this . . . it's someone who
  wili help you if you need help, who'il listen to you when you talk about you
  problems... someone you can trust.
INTERVIEWER:   What do you mean by a friend, Robert?
ROBERT:   Someone who likes the same things that you
  do, who you can argue with and not lose your temper, even if you don't always
  agree about things. I mean someone who you don't have to talk to
  all the time but can be silent with perhaps. That's important, too.
  You can just sit together and not say very much sometimes. Just relax.
  I don't like people who talk all the time.
INTERVIEWER:   Are you very good at keeping in touch with your friends if you don't see
  them regularly?
ROBERT:   No, not always. I've lived in lots of piaces,
  and , to be honest , once I move away I often do drift out of touch with my or
  friends. And I'm not a very good letter writer, either. Never have been. But
  I know that if I saw those friends again, if I ever moved back to the same
  place, for some other reason we got back into close contact again, I'm sure
  the friendship would be just as strong as it was before.
JEAN:   Several of my friends have moved away, got married, things like that. One       
  of my friends has had a baby recently, and I'll admit I don't see her or 
  hearfrom her as much as I uesd to.... She lives in another neighbourhood and  
  whenI phone her, she always seems busy. But that's an exception. I write a
  lot of letters to my friends and get a lot of letters from them. I have a
  friend I went to school with and ten years ago she emigrated to Canada,
  but she still writes to me every mom and I write to her just as often.

                                            Text B

                                   A Friend in Need of Help

    You and Sol have been friends for over fifteen years. You went to high school together and now work in the same company pany. For the past several months , Sol has been very irritable and at times has shown his emotions by openly criticizing the company and some of his fellow workers. Most of the people in the office know that he sometimes drinks too much when he feels depressed about some of his personal and family problems.


    But recently Sol made a very nasty personal comment which hurt'one of the people in the office. No one said anything to him, but it was obvious that many people were angry at what he said and now have little sympathy for him .


    You are beginning to wonder whether you should say something to Sol. You don't consider him your best friend, but he might possibly lose his job because you didn't try to help him. On the other hand, you don't know whether Sol would think that you were interfering in his privatu iife by talking about his personal problems.
    What would you do in this situation?


                                Additioaal Information

    In fact, studies of friendship seem to implicate more eomplex factors. For exampte, one function friendship seems to futfil is that it supports the image we have of ourselves, and confirms the value of the attitudes we hold. Certainly we appear to project ourselves onto our friends; several studies have shown that we judge them to be more like us than they (objectively) are. 

This suggests that we ought to choose friends who are similar to us ( 'birds of a feather' ) rather than those who would be complementary ( 'opposites attract' ) , a prediction which is supported by empirical evidence , at least so far as attitudes and beliefs are concerned. In one experiment, some developing friendships were monitored amongst first-year students living in the same hostel. 

It was found that similarity of attitudes (towards politics, religion and ethics, pastimes and aesthetics) was a good predictor of what friendships would be established by the end of four months, though it had less to do with initial alliances - not surprisingly, since attitudes may not be obvious on first inspection.


    There have also been studies of pairings, both voluntary (married couples) ples ) and forced (student roommates ) , to see which remained together and which split up. Again, the evidence seems to favour similarity rather than complementarity as an omen of a successful relationship, though there is a complication: where marriage is concerned, once the field has been narrowed down to potential mates who come from similar backgrounds and share a broad range of attitudes and values, a degree of complementarity seems to become desirable. 

When a couple are not just similar but almost identical, something else seems to be needed. Similarity can breed contempt; it has also been found that when we find others obnoxious, we dislike them more if they are like us than when they are dissimilar!


    The difficulty of linking friendship with similarity of personality probably reflects the complexity of our personalities: we have many facets and therefore require a disparate group of friends to support us. This of course can explain why we may have two close friends who have little in common, and indeed dislike each other. By and large, though, it looks as though we would do well to choose friends (and spouses) who resemble us. If this were not so, computer dating agencies would have gone out of business years ago.