Can We Deserve to Have Friends?

I recently overheard someone remark that they “had gone years without even one real friend”, and that they felt “severely lonely”.  She then went on to say that she “deserved friends”.

Her remarks left me with several thoughts.  In the first place, you wish you could do something about someone’s “severe loneliness”.  That is, it seems safe to say we’ve all been there at one or another point in our lives, and most of us probably have some empathy for people who feel lonely.

But beyond that, I was struck by her notion that she “deserved” friends.  Did she mean that friends were her just due in life?  That she could earn friends the way we, say, earn money?

If that’s what she meant, then I find myself in disagreement with her.

It simply does not seem possible to me to deserve someone’s friendship.  Instead, it seems to me friendship is a gift that people sometimes give to us.  But it is not that we can demand of it others because we deserve it.   “I have done x and y for you — therefore you must be my friend.”  That just doesn’t sit well with me.

But what do you think?  Can we deserve friends?  Can we earn them by way of what we do for them, or by means of what kind of person we are?

11 thoughts on “Can We Deserve to Have Friends?

  1. Perhaps she just worded that awkwardly. No one can “deserve” friends, but we can be the type of people who are worthy of friendship. That can be done easily enough by cultivating those qualities we would like our friends to have. It is possible to be so self-absorbed and annoying as to drive people away.

  2. It seems almost impossible to me that she has only met one person over the last few years that she could be friends with… Life seems to present me with opportunities to meet new people almost everyday. Is she living under a rock? What is her criteria for someone being her friend?

    I don’t think that we “deserve” friends… There is no entitlement to people liking you and connecting with you, Like so many other things making friends depends on you putting yourself out there just a little bit.

  3. What DougB said.

    It’s also possible that this person has been expending her energies in other areas – making a living, finishing projects, raising children, whatever – and feels that she “deserves” a fair opportunity to make friends.

  4. I agree that friendship is a gift, freely given and gladly received. It took me a very, very long time to find the group of friends I now have, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. It’s a give and take thing, and has nothing to do with what we do or don’t do for each other. We’re true friends because we connect in a very deep soul-speaking way.

    I do know what it is to feel horribly lonely, but I also know that the only way to move past the loneliness is to put yourself out there. You’re never going to find friends if you spend your time sitting around being depressed because you have no friends. All 3 of my closest non-relative friends I found through getting involved in a theatre group. My other close non-relative friend I found at work. I love these women with all my heart, and cherish the time I get to spend with them.

    • “my closest non-relative friends I found through getting involved in a theatre group”

      Ditto, for the most part. One or two from old places of work. An activity that requires people with different skills working together is good for that sort of thing. Theatre is such a place. I’m hard pressed to think of too many others that are volunteer activities, but any other such thing would probably be similarly fruitful.

  5. Deserving friends…nah. My ex-husband always thought he could do something to earn friends. He never did anything for anybody else without some strings attached. “I did this for you so no I expect that in return”.

    Maybe in the sense that we deserve an opportunity to develop friendships I can see this. But to have friends you must first be a friend. I don’t mean doing something to earn friendships, or maybe I do. You have to be honest, loyal, trustworthy and real. If you want to be able to depend on a friend you must also be dependable. I don’t mean buying friendship, I mean being friendship material.

    I have a friend who I cannot depend on to be on time, nor to follow through on a lot of the things she says she is going to do. But she is still my very best friend because I can count on her to be there for me emotionally, when I need someone to talk to, when I need to cry it out or laugh it up. I know who she is and what I can depend on her for. I accept her for who she is and she accepts me.

  6. We as people are social animals,without contact to other people we die socially,So in that sense I think we deserve friendship,just as we deserve food,shelter and love.

  7. As Robert said, we certainly need social interaction, so it’s easy to think we all deserve friends. Still, as other commenters have have said, how much you actually deserve them depends on how you treat those you have.

  8. Well, we can all agree that we deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Beyond that, saying one “deserves” friends is a very passive and entitled statement. You earn friends, if you are lucky, by working hard at mutuality and empathy in relationships and if a reciprocal spark ignites. Someone making a statement that she “deserves” friends sounds like a whiner to me. Frankly, the whole scene you describe would make for an excellent Seinfeld episode. Elaine would have made the remark, at their cafe, and it would go on from there.

  9. She needs to know, for that matter everyone needs to know, loneliness is a choice. I’m not saying she needs to party every night to find company. Just visit a few places that seem to fit your sensibilities. Find like-minded individuals and talk about mutual interests…the rest will happen naturally. Does she, do we deserve friends? Looking for friends, maintaining friendships is work. I admit some people can do it easier than others but that should not stop one from doing the work. And because we do the work, we “deserve” friendship. I do not believe in altruism. (Of course that is for another time). Tit for tat is how friendship really works. Once this is accepted, goals and objectives reveal themselves and relationship maintenance becomes a breeze. Mutually beneficial (vs parasitic) relationships is the main goal. And,… by means of what kind of person we are? Being there and being available is more important than being personable IMO, it makes us more attractive.

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