Earlier today, I did my usual rounds on Quora when I happened upon the following question.
This is my answer: http://qr.ae/TUIqmr.
Ultimately, individuals will have to define their relationships with other people according to their personal needs and wants. I believe there are two specific categories of friendships on a macro level and on a much more subtle micro level. Also, depending on the dynamics of your specific relationship, those categories can cross over with each other. However, your temperamental reactions will primarily be based off your macro level needs and wants.
When you visit an office, a store, a website, you’re expecting to fulfill a criteria that the company offers. So, if you are having a BBQ, you will visit a grocery store or a butcher shop to buy meat. If you’re going to cook a vegetarian dinner, you will visit the vegetable, fruits and nuts’ sections to buy your ingredients. If you need car maintenance, you will visit a car mechanic to have that done. You’re not going to go into an all-vegan store to buy meat. You’re not going to go into a butcher shop to buy vegetables. You’re not going to go to a game design studio to get your car tuned up. You cannot expect any of these other types of companies to do the things you expect other more suitable stores to do for you, because they’re not offering those sort of goods and services.
This example of buying goods and services is how all relationships work on a categorically Trade A for B process. HOWEVER, exactly WHAT is being traded in “A” and “B” is what matters and most importantly, HOW they are being traded.
In a relationship where you are expecting specific things from each person involved, you are essentially purchasing or trading services. You give ABC things and you expect XYZ things from the other person. I call these types of relationships “Conditional Expectants”. Conditional expectations mean you do everything you feel is what friends should do for each other, then expect the same or similar amount of service from the people you do these services for. A lot of people around the world fit into this macro level category when it comes to defining their friendships.
In a relationship where you are not expecting specific things from each person involved, but rather, is dynamically connected with each individual involved, recognizing each individual’s character traits and their means, you are essentially gifting your friendship. Unconditional friendships on a macro level means you give your friendship because you want to and not because you expect that other person will give something specific in return. The only expectation is a minor one that makes up a very broad stroke and that is understanding and acceptance of each other. You are giving away yourself in a way that works for the other person, as well as be comfortable doing it and in respect to that, the other person gives themselves away to you in regards to their own ability. This sort of relationship on a macro level is very uncommon.
As Siddartha mentioned, “Friendship is also to understand another… There is a transaction, however of a different kind… Can’t be measured in a similar manner.”
That’s exactly true. I believe conditional aspects that connect people initially together to form their varying types of relationships is a given. However, when you’re in those relationships, what are you exactly expecting and looking for? If you open yourself up for dating men and/or women, then obviously, you’re out there looking for someone or some people to fulfill a romantic and/or intimate and/or sexual need. Not always, as some people are simply looking to flirt in a friendly way, others are looking for a sugar momma or sugar daddy, and there are others that are looking to just spread their seed or get impregnated. However, regardless of the reasons, there is an end goal or a series of end goals. Those are the initial expectations that may or may not ultimately get there with the evolution of your relationships with people.
So in the regard of unconditional friendship versus conditional expectations, they’re both true in all forms of relationships. However, only one of these will take precedence over the other, depending on the neediness of your end goals.
I have a friend who is very similar to Bree in regards to her friendships, mainly coinciding her new friendships and on a micro level, towards her older friendships. We had an argument about this some time ago. The reason we had an argument was that she believed she was entitled to positive reactions from her friend Berenice, for doing a lot for her, even though her friend Berenice never asked for any of the things she did. Amelia expected that Berenice would reciprocate everything Amelia did for her and not doing so, would mean Berenice was not appreciative of their friendship. Well duh! However, that still doesn’t justify the entitlement. Amelia is not entitled to anything. Berenice doesn’t owe her anything, UNLESS they both communicated at the onset of their friendship that this was what was expected in their friendship. Since this wasn’t the case, if whatever circumstance Berenice was going through and Amelia wasn’t able to cope with it, then the most logical step was to back off. However, she insisted that her way is the only way. Which means she will continue to show Berenice that the friendship was worth every effort, by being an overly aggressive person who just kept smothering her with various things, because ultimately, she wanted Berenice to validate her existence in their friendship together. Berenice had become a necessity and to get her, Amelia was going to do whatever she could to try to give ABCDEFG, so she can get ABCD and X things. This wasn’t an unconditional friendship. It was in fact, a very conditional one because she had a pretty solid end-goal to achieve.
Of course, having known Amelia for over fifteen years, her and I have grown accustomed to each others’ antics. I am nothing like Amelia, when it comes to how I connect with my friends. Her friendship with me is a lot less conditional, because all she seeks from me is the occasional sounding board, a once-in-a-blue-moon hang-out buddy and someone to update her websites. Though at one time, she did have some conditional expectations towards me, but that soon faded when a reality set in. I think that’s okay for the most part, but of course, it does bug me sometimes, when I think about things. Though mind you, she isn’t a bitch, most of the time. ;) We have an understanding with each other and she has helped me through some down times in the past, both financially, as well as someone who actually listened and cared. So it isn’t like she is a heartless entitled bitch queen. No no, she is only like that towards some other people. I notice she is a lot less like that with her friends from ‘ancient times’, like me. I’m not complaining about her. I am only making an assessment and giving perspective.
With that said, it also dawned on me why my relationship with Albert had failed. To put it basically, he was a very conditional person. Where as I was more along the lines of unconditional. Though I am sure he believed everything he did and hoped in his friends seemed unconditional to him. Which also meant that whatever faults he saw in me in our ending days, was very conditional. Alas, one specific incident came to mind that is proof he looked at friendship in a very conditional way, was one time a long time ago. He expected Patrick, our mutual friend to drive all the way through two cities to go pick up his girlfriend. Patrick, feeling it was very out-of-the-way, because he would literally have to drive two cities north-eastward, then come back, made a passive comment that it’s really out of the way. Albert chose to ignore his comment, so I brought it up in private. This was when Albert remarked, “But I would have done the same for him!”
You see? He would have done the same, because he expects his friends to do the same. At that time, I would have volunteered to pick her up to save Patrick the inconvenience if I had access to a car, but I would have minded because it was two cities away, but because we were brothers, I also formed certain expectations that he would expect that from me. The problem here was that Albert was often inconsiderate of the feelings of other people, if it clashed with his sense of entitlement because of his conditional expectations of what friends should be doing, versus what friends can do when they wish to. For example, as I got older, after losing this friendship with Albert, I realized that I personally cannot expect anything in particular from my friends. If I could do something on my own, I will. If I cannot do something on my own, I will find a way to do it without burdening my friends. It is ONLY after my friends offer their help, that I may accept it, but even then, at the times I did ask my friends for help, I always made a disclaimer that if they cannot, then I would be totally cool with it and will understand it.
So I find that having friends with conditional expectations will often clash with me, because I behave in an unconditional sort of way via giving and receiving friendship. That is why I adore Patrick, Thomas and Roger and basically pretty much everyone from that specific spectrum of my childhood friendships like Jack, Reuben, Darren and Kristl. I have never once had a moment where any of these people declared a condition to stay as friends. While it is true, they don’t invite me to anything, I place this as a result of me being a hermit, rather than them actually not inviting me because I am pretty sure if I showed up more often, connected with them more often and shed away these hermit chains, they would all gladly and very openly welcome over and over and over again. It’s just too bad our life spans are so short. I am like one of the wizards in the Harry Potter series, that prefer to meet up once or twice every 50 to 100 years and whenever we meet up, it’s like meeting up a weekend after. It’s always nice, because there is never awkwardness. There is always just a continuance.
Mind you, people are not so black and white of course. Ultimately, there are dynamics involved between individuals in a relationship of any kind. It is those specific intricacies that in summary, would translate to what works and what doesn’t for each connection made. What works for Amelia and Berenice, will not work with Amelia and myself and what may work for myself and Patrick, will definitely not work for Amelia and Patrick. On the surface, it may seem Amelia and Albert can be amazing friends, but the reality is that friendship is built on more than just categories of things, though categories should definitely help you understand why each person behaves the way they do.