I think I'll categorize relationships as follows –
relationships with friends, hopefully including relationships with:
a husband for a woman or a wife for a man,
and a friends who is none of the above;
relationships with an acquaintance who is not a friend;
relationships with those with whom you are not acquainted.
I've arranged the above relationships in order of the amount of time and effort that I
think should generally be spent with and on the object of each relationship.
Although I think every person is important, I also think that the nature of
relationships determines the relative time priority of one relationship over another.
For example I think that GOD is CREATOR, PERFECT LOVER, and LORD of all
and that we are totally dependent on HIM for all good things (“every good gift and
every perfect gift is from heaven above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 (King James
Version)). Therefore, I think HE has the highest priority. Similarly, in getting married
I think we accrue a higher obligation for care and spiritual intimacy than with other
relationships; so, I give one’s spouse second highest time priority. Then, in bringing
a child into the world I think we owe them an obligation of care, upbringing and
friendship giving them third time highest priority. Also, I think we have an obligation
to honor our parents regardless of their behavior (“Honour thy father and thy
mother, as the LORD thy GOD hath commanded thee; that thy days may be
prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy GOD
giveth thee.” Deuteronomy 5:16 (King James Version)) and they have the fourth
highest time priority. On the other hand, friendships do not necessarily have the
obligations attached to them that marriage and child/parent relationships do.
However, they still require regular time commitments to build and maintain them
making them the fifth time priority. Whereas, acquaintances and non-acquaintances
require the normal obligation of love without regular time commitments (“Owe no
man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the
law.”(Romans 13:8 (King James Version))) making them the sixth and seventh time
priorities. Circumstances might dictate that priorities be rearranged for an
undetermined amount of time. In cases where this seems necessary I think that it
should be done if it is thought to be GOD’s will and with respect to and if possible
with the blessing of the deprived party. A possible example might be an ill child or
parent or friend who requires more than the normal amount of time.
Relationship with a Friend
Friendship seems to be the basic relationship. I think that all relationships may be
discussed in terms of friendship, and I believe that vital relationships are or should
A person may be aware or unaware of another person. A person may have
met/become acquainted with another person or not. A person may love another
person or not. However, to be a friend I think a person must not only be aware,
acquainted, and love another person, but, also, set aside time for them and initiate
communication with them at reasonable intervals.
After all, a person could conceivably meet/become acquainted with hundreds of
people in a day and love each one albeit for a limited period of time, but being a
friend implies that some level of spiritual intimacy has been achieved and I assert
that achieving and maintaining spiritual intimacy requires regular investments of time.
I think that friendship requires that two people love one another and that they take
the time necessary to communicate with one another to build (thereby establishing
and maintaining confidence in one another’s love) and maintain the friendship.
I think that one difference between a friend and an acquaintance is that a friend
chooses to set aside time at regular reasonable intervals to initiate communication
and to communicate with their friend; whereas an acquaintance communicates with
their acquaintance on a “catch as catch can” basis or when they happen to cross
I think that the quality of a friendship can be determined to a great degree by the
amount of time spent communicating with one another in love, the equatability of
communication initiation, and the personal nature of the subject matter discussed.
A spiritually intimate friend might be defined as one with whom at least 27 minutes
(roughly divided equally between the two friends over the long run and initiated
roughly equally) every 4 days is spent one to one communicating in love about
concerns such as: facts, thoughts, feelings, dreams, and secrets.
A close friend might be defined as one with whom at least 27 minutes (roughly
divided equally between the two friends over the long run and initiated roughly
equally) every week is spent one to one communicating in love about the same
things that one might discuss with a spiritually intimate friend. Appropriately, a lower
percent of time might be spent on feelings, dreams, and secrets in less depth than
one might spend discussing such things with a spiritually intimate friend and a higher
percent of time might be spent discussing less personal matters.
Following the same trend, a casual friend might be defined as one with whom at
least 27 minutes (roughly divided equally between the two friends over the long run
and initiated roughly equally) every 2 weeks is spent one to one communicating in
love about the same things that one might discuss with a spiritually intimate or a
close friend, except that, appropriately, a still higher percent of the time spent
together might be spent discussing facts and thoughts, and a still lower percent of
time might be spent discussing feelings, dreams, and secrets in less depth.
With an acquaintance almost all the time spent together might, appropriately, be
spent conversing about facts and thoughts and almost no time (if any) spent
discussing feelings, dreams, and secrets. Also, there would normally be little if any
time spent communicating with an acquaintance one to one. This could change if
you and they choose to explore being friends.
One might ask, why might it be generally appropriate to talk more about personal
things such as feelings, dreams, and secrets with people that one spends more
time with? I think there are several profound reasons for discussing things of a
personal nature with a trusted friend, who cares for you enough to regularly set
aside time to communicate with you about things of a personal nature--
One is that feelings and dreams seem to be generally more complex and difficult to
communicate than facts and thoughts and, therefore, simply require more time to
communicate and be understood.
Secondly, when I am communicating my feelings, dreams, and secrets I generally
prefer that the listener: care about me, be empathetic with me, be supportive of me
and keep my secrets confidential. In fact it might be downright disconcerting for a
careless or malevolent person to get hold of my secrets, especially my deepest
and/or darkest ones. I would generally think that a person who cares enough to
invest more time in me cares about me more. Also, I think it takes time to
harmonize enough with another person to feel empathy for them and time to build
up trust in a person. Generally, I think trust is best placed in people with integrity
(people who speak the truth and do what they say they will) who keep confidences.
How else might we learn the character of another person but by gradually
observing and testing it over time? (“Well, thou good servant: because thou hast
been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” (Luke 19:17))
In addition, it takes time to keep up to date on a person’s background. In other
words it might take only a few words or a nod or a wink to communicate some
thoughts to a supportive friend who is up to date on the experiences, feelings,
thoughts and dreams of their friend at a given moment in time, whereas, an
acquaintance or stranger might not even have a clue. If an acquaintance even
wanted to know a given person it could take a very long time to communicate and
to build trust for that to happen.
Initiating Communication In Relationships –
In relationships I think it is important for both parties to initiate conversation on a
roughly equal basis over the long term.
I suppose the best way to describe initiation of a conversation is with an example –
Fred wanted Mary and Joe to meet. So, with Mary and Joe’s permission, Fred
gave each the other's phone number. The following day, Mary called Joe. In doing
so, Mary initiated a conversation. If Joe had answered Mary’s call and conversed
with her, then it might reasonably been expected that Joe would initiate the next
conversational exchange. Now, if Joe's answering machine answered Mary's call
and Joe got the message and reached Mary later, then Joe did not initiate the
exchange. He responded to Mary's initiation. It might then be reasonably expected
that Joe initiate the next conversational exchange, unless he is in some way
impaired, and unable to do so. Similarly, Joe might have answered Mary’s call, but
not have had time to talk. He might have then told her that he would plan to call her
later. If he called her back as promised, he still would not have initiated the
exchange, but would have been completing the exchange by responding to Mary’s
call. Therefore, Joe might still be reasonably expected to initiate the next
Failure of one party in a relationship to initiate conversation on a regular basis might
not bode well for the relationship. There are at least two possible consequences.
One is that the initiating party might grow weary of always being the one to initiate
conversation. The second is that if one party is predominantly passive in the
relationship the active party might get the impression that the passive party is not
interested in the relationship in spite of protests to the contrary. (Ideally, both
parties would show interest in the relationship by actively participating in it.)
Alternatively, the passive party may actually want to discontinue the relationship
and has chosen to signify this by being passive or non-responsive. In this case, the
active party risks becoming some sort of stalker if they continue to pursue
conversation with the passive party. This might be weighed against the possibility
that the passive party, though interested, might be shy or temporarily very busy or
perhaps the message was not received.
There are two issues that might arise here. One is, what to do if calls are not
returned at all. The other is what to do if calls are returned by the other party, but
calls are never initiated by the other party.
In the case where my initial call is not returned at all (unless I had reason to
suspect the other party had come to harm) I might check my information and try
again in 3 or 4 days. If there was not a response within a week, I might try one
more time, and then give up trying, unless there was a response, under the
assumption that the other party was not interested in talking to me.
In the case where the other party returned my call, but didn't initiate a conversation
on their own, I might wait a week, initiate another call, then wait two weeks. If the
other party failed to initiate conversation during that period I might give another call,
discuss conversation initiation with the other party and try to resolve any
differences. Then, I might wait a month before trying again, if there were still no
initiation on the part of the other party. If the other party did not initiate a
conversation with me after that I might discontinue trying to initiate conversation
Since an acquaintance is not a friend I don't think that there's a standing
responsibility to devote time to them. However, I still think they should be treated
with love. On occasion that might require time.
As you may have noted, I believe friendship requires consistent investments of time.
Therefore, a person would only have time for a limited number of friends including
wives, husbands, parents, children and others. A person can’t be everybody’s best
friend unless that person can be many different places at the same time. In this life
it seems that those of us who are merely human will never become acquainted with
every other person and of those with whom we are acquainted a relatively small
number will be our friends.
I think it would be wise for a person to make time for at least three intimate friends
(besides their intimate friends in their family) in order to fulfill the need for intimacy.
Beyond that I think that a person needs to establish what their priorities are and
how to fulfill them.
After you choose to love, you may find that the need for love in the world is
overwhelming. Therefore, I think it is appropriate to establish reasonable priorities
and boundaries so that your love giving will not be scattered and ineffective, and so
that manipulative people don't gain control of your life to serve themselves. I think
that the best way to maintain one’s sanity is to try to do GOD's will and not the will
Sadly, there may be some people who wish to be your friend and/or who you wish
to befriend who you don’t have time for and/or visa versa. I once knew a man who
seemed to have this problem to the extreme. Everyone seemed to want to be his
friend and he didn’t seem to have the energy for all of them. He seemed to have a
couple of means of dealing with the problem. One was normally not answering his
phone and leaving a message on his answering machine begging callers’ patience in
awaiting his return calls. (He might pick up his phone if he heard someone that he
wanted to talk to leaving a message on his answering machine.) Another was
introducing his many acquaintances to each other possibly so that they could meet
each others’ needs for friendship instead of relying on him for that.
Another technique that seems to work for some is being genuine. The fact is that if
a person represents themselves honestly, instead of trying to be the person that
others want them to be, a lot of people may not want to be their friend because of
incompatibilities. Being genuine, also, seems to be a lot less stressful and taxing
than trying to put up a front to please others.
I define pseudo-friendship as an unstable relationship wherein one or both of the
participants want the benefits of having a friend without the responsibilities of being
If a person were really a friend, wouldn’t they have an interest in the well-being of
their friend and make regular contact to check on the well-being of their friend?
Without making regular contact, how would a friend gain accurate information on
how to be supportive of their friend? For that matter, how could one be a
consistent supporter of another if one is not around to do so?
Pseudo-friendship may also be problematic if one or both participants presume that
people stay the same, since that assumption appears to be wrong. The reality
seems to be that people change all the time, by virtue of experience, thought,
disease, and aging. My observation is that to presume otherwise would tend
toward unnecessary and unpleasant annoyance and/or conflict. Also, without
current observations of behavior, one might reasonably wonder if a person is
trustworthy or not.
I think it would be better to be either a friend or an acquaintance rather than a
pseudo-friend. One could conceivably consistently keep up with changes in one’s
friends because of relatively frequent contact, whereas, extensive knowledge of
one’s acquaintance would not reasonably be expected or required.
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