de Sade: Friendship


I lack the motivation to meet new people.

That is far from saying that meeting new people isn’t a joyous occasion, or that I avoid situations where it is likely to happen; I merely find that unless interactions run smoothly from beginning to end I will stand there wondering how long it is until I can leave. I crave company to the point that my work suffers for it. If there is anyone even near my cell, I feel obliged to entice them into conversation, and my writing falls by the wayside – no matter whether the person holding my attention is the most delicious washerwoman or a mere prison guard.

When the opportunity arises and there are new people to talk to, however, I don’t often see the point. I’m disappointed in the gap between my own friendships and the ideal of friendship to the point that meeting new people becomes a perceived waste of time. Friendships ensure we don’t walk this largely cold and indifferent world alone, but people always fall short of our expectations. Meetings flourish or wilt but in either case, it is impossible for our ideal to be met.

The Ideal Aspects of Friendship

1. Friends are for sharing good times and giving support in bad times.

Whether forced distance, inconvenience, or some invented distractions are brought into play, many people will abandon you in your time of need. Those that do not leave you for dead are traditionally considered your ‘real’ friends.

2. Friends are for sharing secrets and having people to empathise with (and more importantly to ensure there are those who empathise with you).

If you count the number of people you are entirely honest with – the number of people you would feel comfortable sharing everything with – that number is likely to be small. In reality, it is likely to be zero. You do not have anyone whose questions you will answer truthfully no matter what your answer is. We have too much within us we desire (or feel obliged) to keep hidden. This is a shortcoming of our own; we bring about our own lack of closeness with others.

You cannot share everything with anyone for many reasons: you may feel ashamed of a previous action, you may not trust them to keep the information between you, you may simply think they look fat in the clothes they are wearing. Perhaps you want to bed their sibling or parent (or them); there’s a chance you’re jealous of the social standing they have over you, of the attention others pay to them but fail to show you. There will always be a part of you that needs to be left to simmer alone.

If people do not truly know what it is like to be in the exact same situation as someone else, how can they ever hope to empathise with them? If your friends don’t understand you, you are alone.

The Steps of Friendship

1. Make friends.
2. Share some information, hide some information.
3. Feel the friends can’t offer you the closeness you need.
4. Meet new people.
5. Repeat.

It is with the first action I take issue. Why bother? Your friends will always change. You meet them at the market, or through a friend, in in your place of work. You talk. You arrange to meet at a later date, and behold, you both deliver. You’re friends now – you should be proud. But weeks later you find out they disagree with your stand on polygamy, or they have religious beliefs opposing yours, or they detest the use of rubbish bins, and your opinion of this ‘friend’ changes. The aspects you so loved before are now bringing you to the edge of throwing them down the stairs – what happened to your friendship?
They changed.
Months later you find out they’re attracted to you, or they love the same literature, or they share the same life philosophy – and your view changes again. A year later you find out they’re racist, or they thought you were dating. Friendships are volatile. How do you know what you share today is something you won’t regret telling tomorrow? You can never truly know the person you are talking to.

People believe this void can only be filled with love and a relationship because if you live with someone – share their space – then you know that person better than anyone else. You are present for most of their day to day life. This is what makes refraining from leaping at (on inside) the next free man or woman when a relationship dies difficult: the void left by a person that listens is large. The strength of will required to last without other people to catch you is not easily acquired. Although it makes no sense to care about the opinions of those that don’t know you, part of you will always be avidly searching for the one person that makes you feel understood. You throw yourself at people in a similar situation, but they are also attempting to fill a perceived gap.

Your lunging won’t help.

The friendship ideal is not always the best. It is only when a person is comfortable alone that their friendships become worthwhile. They become exciting. The exchange of information is no longer futile; change stops the relationship from decaying. When you are aware of the inherent shortcomings of interactions with others, you cannot help but be forced to rely on your own strength. Being around others is nice, but sometimes you will need to bite your lower lip, roll up your sleeves, and be honest with yourself.

There is one solution to this lack of intimacy between friends. If we were to be entirely honest with each other – to openly answer all questions asked of us without refraining from a single thought that occurs to us at the time – eventually we would really know one another. We would have to be prepared for whatever we hear (and it is likely we would be made aware of things we wish we didn’t know), but that is a small price to pay for connecting with other men and women on a level we have only previously imagined and never actually attained.

“Your arse looks the size of my dining table when loaded with Christmas dinner.”

“When you and I are fucking, I think of your brother dressed as a rooster.”

“You have the personality of a potato and the face of a pulled pork bun that’s been dropped in the road and put back together by a person with no hands.”

You would need to be prepared for the answers you faced, but equally, you can choose what you ask. And it is a mistake to think that everything we hold within our own metaphorical prison cells is of a negative persuasion. I believe that the best we have to offer is held back due to issues with shyness, the threat of failure, or whatever reason we can find to keep what we really want to share in the dark. Think what we may be missing out on.

“You’re my best friend, but I’m in love with you.”

“I’m not here to be a market attendant – I want to be an equestrian.”

“Ever since we met, I’ve wanted to try anal.”

Look at what we could achieve if we become entirely open with ourselves and others. We could find the drive to change the course of our lives for the better, we could start relationships that have so far been seen as potentially damaging of a friendship – we could even get anal out of it! What is there to lose, friends?

Honesty is the key. Get talking and get fucking.