May 16, 2010
Women, Hugs and Friendships

Fleeting Friendships

I often think that I don’t have many friends, and that I have never had many friends. But I wonder if I have far more than I ever imagined. Perhaps the accounting system I use is flawed. Do we all have more friends than we think, and is it, perhaps, the working definition of what “friendship” is that limits our access to an expanded world of friends and friendships?

Are friendships only those relationships that occur over years of talking around tables or in living rooms? Are they only represented by longevity and a kind of intimacy that comes with details known and exchanged? What about those people who you smile at and exchange pleasantries with—once or every day for years? Do they count? Are those friendships? Could a definition of a friendship be an interaction with a person that brings you pleasure?

During the school year on most Tuesdays I teach at my synagogue’s Hebrew school. For the first half of the year my daughter started an hour before I did, so I would go to the nearby McDonald’s and eat and do whatever preparation work needed to be done before heading back to teach my classes. After a couple of weeks I noticed that a mother and her young son and daughter were there at the same time. At first we exchanged nods. Then we progressed to the most casual of conversation: hi, how are you’s. After this introductory phase we began talking. It turns out that she would take her kids to McDonald’s before they went to religious school at the church right next to my synagogue.

Is she a friend? Technically or by the traditional definition, she is not. But I feel that she is. I looked forward to our weekly exchanges. I enjoyed our five minutes of chatting between attending to my work and her kids. She remembered my name and I eventually remembered her name.

(The word acquaintance does not fit here, because, at least in my understanding, an acquaintance is someone you are familiar with, but there isn’t a true connection, one that brings a warmth from a meeting, however brief.)

Another element to thinking about these fleeting friendships is whether or not the exchange added a dimension to your life. Was there another layer of meaning created through the exchange? In that case, these fleeting friendships surely do something that “real” friendships cannot. It is an absolute acceptance of who you are just by the feeling that you project and receive. It’s a kind of love at first sight, but rather than love you have intrinsic recognition.

This expanded definition feels important. It gives me a new dimension from which I can look at my life and interact with the world. That certainly is a wonderful thing to discover on a Thursday night.



This is a really relevant topic for those of us on the internet. Or maybe just me.

There are a great many people who I refer to as friends who I have never met face-to-face and have never even spoken with on the phone. They are people whose blogs I read... maybe I follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter and some I have exchanged emails with.

There are a great many people who would argue that these people are not "friends". Yet, to me, they fit my definition of "friend". I have been fortunate over the years to meet face-to-face with several people who were previously "just" Internet friends.

I live somewhere now that I have no "real life" friends within a 500 mile radius. I have no family within a 1000 mile radius. But I have internet friends fairly close by. And most days, that's enough.


I so love your expanded definition of friendship! Of course, it’s wonderful to have a few close friends but the ability to connect and engage with people wherever you go makes life that much more enjoyable. (And keeps us sane.)

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

MsDarkstar, your expansion is definitely right. Friendships are all interactions that establish a connection, whether they be in a smile or an email exchange.

Beth, if I didn't have my internet friends--or the ability to stay in touch with my "real" life friends via the internet, then life would be so limited.


Friendship is such a complex relationship and defining it seems equally complex. There are those people with whom I feel a connection but have not had the time to interact in that constant, meaningful way and perhaps those are friends in development.
Then there are the friends who have been there most aall my life. Even if we only talk three times a year, we are easy in our conversation and familiar in our interaction - these are my treasured BFFs.
A new dimension are those people met on the internet or reconnecting with o the internet after years and years of no contact (think facebook). Where do those that one may never meet face to face fit into the friendship conundrum? As we exchange thoughts, ideas and emotions and make that connection I think that is something as valid as those lifelong friends, etc. People enter and leave our lives to fill the needs of that given time.
Sometimes we are blessed with an overflowing abundance and other times it may seem kind of barren. That barrenness can compel us to get out and seek a connection or two. Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be; filling a need for a time or a lifetime.

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