How far friendship


Getting back to last week, before I was interrupted by several days of mehness…

(What? With all the unintelligible posts and mangled grammar on the web, you would begrudge me a made up word here, in my own blog, my place of power? I didn’t think so.)

…as I said, last week, I was writing about my realization that I talk too much, or rather that I talk even more “too much” than ever.

I also pointed out that my friends and family are all too polite to mention it to me, let alone say, ‘Shut up!” (except Dad)

That got me to thinking. Regular readers of my blog know that is ever a dangerous thing, but ’tis too late now. The game’s afoot!

The whole not mentioning thing made me wonder what is the definition of friendship and how far does that extend?

Let’s try some examples:

– Friend comes from restroom with toilet paper stuck to shoe or fly open

– Something is (noticeably) stuck between your friend’s teeth

– Your friend has over-stayed their welcome

– Your friend has strong bad breath or body odor

– Your friend talks too much

In which of these circumstances is it within the bounds of friendship to speak up? Obviously, the examples range from mildly embarrassing to possibly personally insulting. Is there a “red line” that shouldn’t be crossed?

I acknowledge that no blanket answer covers all situations. Many people have different levels of sensitivity as well as different concepts as to what “friendship” means to them.

Me, personally, I would probably rather know if I should always carry breath mints or I need to go home or I should stop talking. But that’s me.

And that’s also the rub. What if my friends would feel uncomfortable telling me those things? Do I have the “right” to make them uncomfortable, even if it doesn’t make me uncomfortable (it might actually make me feel better – after the initial dismay – that I could be a better friend)?

How far does friendship extend? The answer is elusive because it is double-sided. Not just what I would be okay with, but what my friends would be okay with.

I’ve dropped hints in the past to my friends to tell me if I’m over-staying my welcome or if I’m dominating the conversation. I get laughs and polite demurs, because that is also the way of friendship – light deception in the service of a longer goal: continued friendship.

How many of us roll the dice past that level of good-natured chuckle and say, “Yeah, you do talk too much” or “Hey buddy, have you ever thought about keeping a pack of Lifesavers handy?”

No one has done it to me. I wouldn’t do it. But I do think about it. And I wonder sometimes which one better serves being a good friend.

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