I believe we have less of an obligation to nurture soul friendships than any other friendships. Nurturing a soul friendship goes against what soul friendships are. I think if you actually do have a soul friendship, it should be the easiest friendship you have and require no nurturing. It just come’s natural. But a friendship of utility takes real work.
Friendship isn’t like money. Generally speaking, you can work harder and get more money if that’s what you want. But friendships aren’t like that. If you’re working hard at a friendship, isn’t it likely that the friendship is actually a friendship of pleasure, or a friendship of utility. A friendship you want something out of. As Cooley (my favorite in the course) said, A pleasure friendship is one in which each person gives the other pleasure, and the pleasure given is the ultimate end in the relationship (Cooley, 2002). Therefore, if you have a goal of having a soul friendship, and you have to work at achieving that goal, it seems like what you really have is a friendship of pleasure because of the pleasure it will give you to say you have a soul friendship. I’m getting dizzy.
As I’ve read about soul friendships in the course, it doesn’t really seem like they exist. Even in marriage. I like what Emerson had to say about if you don’t have this ultimate friendship. Just having a part of it seems to be worthwhile (Vernon, p. 240). Friends are good. Even with the labels. I don’t despair because I don’t think I have a soul friendship. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with my marriage. Instead, there’s something wrong with the existence of non-existent soul friendships. I prefer to think of soul friendships as a target. I think the bar has been set so high for a friendship of the soul as to make it impossible. I agree with Montaigne’s claim that they hardly ever happen, although his once every three centuries estimate would need to be revised based on the increased population (Vernon, p. 225). Oh, and how very nice that Montaigne claims to have been one of the once every three centuries lottery winners. Soul friendships are like the ten commandments. Nobody can live up to them?
Closer to home, it’s like when my mom said if you want to make something of yourself, you have to be good and reach your potential. I think the bar for “being good” was also set too high, like soul friendships. It’s either that or my potential was to be an underachiever. ???? I like to think of soul friendship and potential in the same way; something to shoot for, but don’t expect it to happen. Besides, what you end up with may end up being even better. My life is good.
Cooley, D. R. (2002). “False Friends.” Journal of Business Ethics. (195-207). Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Vernon, M. (2010). The Meaning of Friendship. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapter 1: Friends at Work