The problem of dichotomy regarding the nature of friendship

The problem of dichotomy, regarding the nature of friendship, is to know when it is okay to be open and when to withhold that openness. A friendship can become stronger by sharing and being open, however, being too open can sometimes be more than one can handle. Nietzsche believed that being open and sharing with another is an act of stepping into chaos– we become aware of the unknown within us, as well as the other (Vernon 2010). The reason we would share with someone is to deepen our bond with them. It is necessary to share on an intimate level to strengthen a bond.

Feigning in a friendship serves as a type of defense mechanism. It may be that more time has to be spent with someone before certain things can be talked about. Nietzsche believed that friendships could not remain steady if the weight of truth is thrown at them (Vernon 2010). A proper foundation must be laid out before building can begin. Likewise, a table can’t support any weight until all of its legs are secure. The hard part about feigning, is that there is an appropriate time to feign and an appropriate time to be open. “If too much is said at the wrong time the consequences can be disastrous.” The circumstances of feigning however, does not allow for one to choose when to share. (Vernon 2010). Saying the wrong things at the wrong time can put a strain on friends, so sometimes it’s easier to not tell your friend how poorly he’s raising his children. It’s always safer to assume that there is something that you do not know. So, instead of critiquing your friend, you could ask if home life is going well. This gives an opportunity to openly discuss problems that only true friends would stick around to hear about. So, how much is too much?

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If your friend now thinks that he can always dump on you, then it’s likely you won’t stick around. So what happened? You opened up and had a meaningful conversation. Why didn’t that make things stronger? Refer back to Nietzsche saying that the weight of truth can be too much to bear. Would you want to be friends with someone like that? Are you perhaps that friend? It seems that deeper friendship is only readily available to those who are willing to explore their own dark corners. One might feign with another because of judgment; does one judge himself before judging others? “It is true we have good reason to think little of each of our acquaintances, even the greatest of them; but equally good reason to direct this feeling back onto ourself” (Vernon 2010). Understanding the sensitivity of this spectrum is what will provide a healthy foundation for a long-lasting friendship.

Vernon, M. (2010). The meaning of friendship. Basingstoke (England): Palgrave Macmillan.

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