The Chaos of Balance–Kenneth Kao

A man searching for a balanced life has many stories.

Americans are Afraid of Friendship


Romance.  Bromance.  Lezzbian.

Our society is defined by sexuality, as if sexuality is a race or some kind of fated category of who we are.

Some of this has happened out of necessity.  Some is part of the natural development of people just trying to figure out social norms.  But in our sex-driven culture—we’ve forgotten that there is something called “friendship.”

A friendship is where people care about each other and even—dare I say it—LOVE one another.  Nearly any other culture and throughout much of our history, we’ve seen examples of true friendship where it is accepted that two people can love each other to the point of death, and not have a sexual relationship.

They can be loyal to each other, as if bonded by blood (whatever blood means these days, you get the idea.)  They can hang out and have dinner with each other without anyone suspecting them of being an “item”.  They can write each other “love” letters, or write poetry to each other because of how much they appreciate each other.  Perhaps they hold hands: girls with girls, guys with girls, or *gasp* guys with guys (Holding Hands).  They live together, even support each other financially—and they may even sleep in the same bed.

Because they are friends.

I’m not saying that all friends have to do this and be comfortable with it, or even that *I’m* comfortable with all the above with my friends (I’m not).  But I am very aware of how society has shaped my impressions.

In a slum, if a bunch of friends slept together, piled all up on each other because there’s no space, or they need to stay warm, or there’s protection in numbers—would you judge them for sleeping in the same 10×10 square?  (Slum)

Lincoln, writing love letters to a best friend—did he really have to be gay?  Or did he just have no reason to fear being judged by society?  Uninhibited love, perhaps? (Lincoln)

In Latin America, do we judge a kiss on the cheek as if it means something more *wink wink*?

Of course not.  Because there, it’s okay to kiss and mean nothing.

So what happened to the United States?

Our society is okay with the occasional hug—if it doesn’t last too long.  The kiss on the cheek, but not the mouth.  We even treasure that special moment when a head leans into the chest and tears are poured out because the comfort is needed for those few minutes of hurt.

But couldn’t it be possible that we hurt longer?  Can’t we need companionship, gifts, letters—a sense that there are people around us who actually care about us and aren’t interested in being lovers?

Could this be what we’ve all been desperately been needing?  Could true friendship be what we are using sex, facebook likes, that “Hey, whaddup bro,” to replace?

Why are we so—afraid?

The United States is lonely.

I could blame many things, I could blame that sexual categorization in our society, that the category is the identity of a person now; it has caused both gay pride and homophobia.  I might discuss how the church has condemned any opposite-sex relationship outside of a spouse because of the “threat” that friendship might have on your marriage.  (My response to that is simple.  Now that homosexuality is so “rampant”, does this mean that I can’t have friends at all?  I mean, I just MIGHT suddenly become attracted to people of the same sex and that could threaten my marriage, too.  Guess I can’t be close friends with anyone, then, can I?  The problem isn’t being close friends with a person, sorry.)

But no—I’d rather blame our definition of people.  A person is not their financial status any more than their ethnicity, or sex, or age, or sexual orientation.  A person is a person because they are.

Yes, that was a complete sentence.

I want to be able to have friends who I can talk to hours on hours at a time like I did when I was a child.  I want to have people that I can see every day, and not feel guilty for spending too much time with them.  I want heartfelt conversations and I want walks in the park and I want…

A friendship romance.

Perhaps that’s not the best term.  But I want my friends to be so comfortable with being my friend that it feels like nothing will ever tear us apart; we are that close.

Americans have forgotten how to be true friends.  We are more cautious about how things look than how things are.  We have to tiptoe around people that could be the most amazing friends because, well, we don’t want them to get the wrong impression and scare them away.

But humans aren’t meant to walk through life with people all around them and yet have no one to share their life with.  I’m not saying that you should replace the spouse or significant other—but who ever said love had limits?  Not Jesus, certainly.  So why can’t we have deep and meaningful relationships with everyone we care about?  What’s stopping us?

Time that we have so little of?  Energy and effort that we are bankrupt of?

Or is it social norms, social judgements, and social definitions.

So go out.  And stop caring about the limits of true love and true friendship.

Disclaimer:  This is not a declaration to ignore boundaries.  If someone doesn’t want to be your “true friend”, don’t harass them.  Don’t stalk them.  Don’t make something exist that doesn’t.  Personally, I’m very happy with the distance I have with some of my friends—not that they aren’t great.  But if I want to be a BFF with someone, they’ll know, promise.


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This entry was posted on January 29, 2013 by in Personal Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , .
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