Thursday, November 8, 2012

Arranged Friendships

Hiring a match-maker or arranging for the marriage of your children (still common in some Asian and African countries) is not practiced in the US—but the concept lives all around in our culture. I call it arranged friendships.

Kappa Delta Chi, the sorority I affiliated with during college, provided an identity, a sense of belonging, fun, formals—Bills and my first big date was the KDX formal—and  friends—arranged friendships. We were loyal to each other. Forty years later I am thankful to still be friends with some of these women.

Arranged friendships are common on sports teams. Not only do the team members play together on the fields, often those are the people they choose to socialize when the game is over.

In the business culture, arranged friendships are forged around departments or projects. One of my colleagues calls these, functional friends.

Arranged friendships are forged in volunteer organizations or in a Sunday school class or a neighborhood. Arranged friendships abound in our culture.

There is security and identity—good things—in these arranged friendships. But what happens to those friendships—those relationships—when college days are over; sports no longer fit your lifestyle, the business department changes, the project comes to an end, or the Sunday school class dissolves, the neighbor moves away? Often the friendship terminates.

I wonder, was friend ever the right identifier?

For someone for whom friendship is a high value, the fall of an arranged friendship hurts. Ouch, I am there. Actually I don’t believe in arranged friendships, I believe in friendship.

How do arranged friendships morph into friendships? I’m learning that …

  1. The friendship needs to be greater than the arrangement. Friends create opportunities to be together apart from whatever it was that brought them together.
  2. If a friendship is to survive and thrive, I need to initiate. Loving hospitality works in my favor.
  3. C.S. Lewis says, “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, “What, you too? I thought I was the only one”.

“A friend loves at all times, …”
Proverbs 17:17

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