What is a friend exactly? After some deliberation, it turns out to be very difficult to provide an uncontentious analysis. Because of its many different conceptions and dimensions, the full value of the word ‘friend’ is surprisingly hard to capture. To that end, below is a list of quotations to help sketch a definition of the word ‘friend’.

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
– Elbert Hubbard

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
– Aristotle

“To like and dislike the same things, that is indeed true friendship.”
– Catiline‎

“A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
– Anaïs Nin

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”
– Linda Grayson

“Friendship is Love without his wings!”
– Lord Byron

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
– C.S. Lewis

See more: Approximations

Shakespeare and False Friends

There are a number of words in Shakespeare’s plays and poems which are deceptive to modern ears. They may seem familiar words but, in fact, camouflage a quite different meaning lost to modern English. In Linguistics, these words are called False Friends.

A False Friend is a word which has kept its form but has strayed from its original sense (or was a completely different word) so that the modern English word is false when compared to the original sense or word. Shakespeare likes to extend the wordplay further by often deliberately using words in their older senses. Consider the following words:

Modern: someone you are in a sexual relationship with, usually illicitly
Shakespeare: friend

Lover as friend precedes the modern meaning by a little over a century, with both dating back to the Middle English period. Shakespeare, however, punster that he is, uses lover almost exclusively in the old sense. If you do not know what he means, some Shakespearean situations can sound quite awkward, to say the least. Lorenzo, for example, fervently puts a plug in for Antonio to Portia as ‘a lover of my lord your husband’ (The Merchant of Venice, III.iv.7).

Modern: a person you know well, love and regard
Shakespeare: (primarily) lover

Friend is an Old English word which appears in texts as early as Beowulf; it derives from the Proto-Germanic frijōjanan and is cognate with the verb ‘to free’. It started with the sense we know today, with a slightly extended application to someone we hold in regard or a relative. This generalized sense, too, is encountered in Shakespeare and creates a pun or two. Now that you know what Shakespeare has in mind, you are clued in when Lady Capulet tells Juliet to stop crying, ‘So shall you feel the loss, but not the friend / Which you weep for’, and Juliet replies that she is weeping for her beloved — not the relative, ‘Feeling so the loss, I cannot choose but ever weep the friend’ (Romeo & Juliet, III.v.74-7).


Philia is a shared experience. The love we feel for people with whom share our innermost feelings and dreams, or with whom we strive with to achieve a shared goal. Philia

Philia is what the Greeks called friendship, and they valued it far more than the base sexuality of Eros. It was about showing loyalty to your friends, sacrificing for them, as well as sharing your emotions with them.

Aristotle takes philia to be both necessary as a means to happiness. He argues that to be a wholly virtuous and fulfilled person necessarily involves having others for whom one is concerned; without them, one’s life is incomplete – “No one would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other goods”.

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
– Elbert Hubbard

We can all ask ourselves how much of this philia we have in our lives. It’s an important question in an age when we attempt to amass “friends” on Facebook or “followers” on Twitter—achievements that would have hardly impressed the Greeks.

See other: Kinds of Greek Love

A 19th Century History of Lesbianism‏

For many years, the intensely passionate friendships between women in the Victorian era went unexplored as a form of female same-sex desire.  However, many exchanges among women in romantic friendships reveal that passion, love, intimacy, and quite likely sex did occur in these relationships.

Though marketed to heterosexual men, lesbian p...

Though marketed to heterosexual men, lesbian pulp fiction provided an identity to isolated women in the 1950s.

Romantic friendships ranged from: “the supportive love of sisters, through the enthusiasms of adolescent girls, to sensual avowals of love by mature women”.

Often, women in romantic friendships would write ardent love letters to each other, expressing their devotion and admiration for one another.

A similar phenomenon took place among school-aged girls in a behaviour termed “smashing.”  This describes the sending of flowers, gifts, notes, and other items to a girl one wanted to become intense friends with.  Often, poems and locks of hair were exchanged, and when the two girls finally became inseparable, they were said to be smashed.

Another expression of female same-sex desire included what Vicinus calls, the “occasional lover of women.”  These “free women” chose a highly varied sexuality, one that vacillated between women and men.  Regularly, their appearance might signal an erotic interest in women, while at other times they might take on male lovers when playing the role of mistress, courtesan, or prostitute.  However, they were also the first to be seen as a social problem by the vice and moral reformers, because of their gender deviance and their possible influence on male political leaders.

Taken together, these examples encompass a wide range of female same-sex desires, and should be seen less as distinct types of women, but rather as embodying general themes from the 19th century.

We cannot possibly detail or know all the articulations of same-sex desire among women, but we can point to patterns and cultural scripts visible during this time.  These women formed loving and passionate relationships with other women during a period when their behaviour was increasingly becoming pathologized.  In a very real way, they are images of early lesbian desire, as well as highly courageous and often unrecognised women.

See other: Admin’s Choice Posts

Characteristics of a Sect

Most of the following characteristics (to an extent) are common in a sect:

I. Indoctrination and Manipulation
The most common characteristics of a sect are indoctrination and manipulation. Indoctrination is a manipulative device that occurs automatically; it is usually used on children and young adults who are growing up within the sectarian community. Furthermore, it is always in the interest of the sect to use manipulation towards all its members in order to increase the plausibility of its message.

“Does the group use education (formal or informal) to get its message across?”

“Does the group use manipulative techniques (rhetorical devices, small group meetings, wondrous stories, myths, et cetera) to increase the plausibility of its message?”

English: Kerkzaal gereformeerde gemeente in ne...

Inside of a fundamentalist calvinist church in the Netherlands; many reformed Christian societies in the Netherlands like GGiN and OGGiN have a large number of different sectarian characteristics.

II. Authority
The leaders of the sect have a certain authority – to such a degree that they are (almost) beyond reproach. The leaders are in the position to make efficient use of their power, which is usually exalted over the members of the sect.

“Are the leaders in the group in possession of a certain unquestioned power (over people)?”

III. Social control
A common characteristic of a sect is social control. The group will try to influence the private life of its members to quite an extent.

“Does the group try to influence the private life of its members?”

IV. Only the leaders are in possession of the truth
The members of the sect (are forced to) believe that the leaders of the sect are the only, or at the very least, virtually the only people who are in possession of the truth. Everything what is being done, said, or believed by people outside the sect is judged to be wrong if those beliefs or actions are not sect policy.

“Are (virtually) only the leaders of the group in possession of the truth?”

V. Destructive control methods
The sect uses ‘forcing manipulative techniques’, also known as brainwashing, or ‘destructive control techniques’. The sect is constantly trying to keep its members close to the group. This is achieved by:
– driving members into feelings guilt; whether they are rebellious or not.
– threatening exclusion.
– assuring members are socially and emotionally dependant of the sect.

“Does the group try to keep its members close to its core with one or different techniques?”

VI. Financial demands
The sect can expect or demand a regular financial contribution of its members. In extreme cases, the sect can confiscate personal property, savings, or claim a percentage of each member’s regular income. Motives mostly include making the members financially reliant on the sect – trying to ensure its members are financially tied to the community. This can also be done by refusing outside help such as: refusing insurance payouts, benefits, pension, et cetera. Expecting a regular contribution however, is more prevalent.

“Does the group try to make its members financially reliant to some extent, or claim personal belongings – financial or otherwise?”

VII. Loyalty
Loyalty is in almost all cases demanded of everyone. The life of each member must revolve around the sect. Members must be an example of the group at large, both in appearance as in personality. These physical and emotional demands can be quite draining; nevertheless, members are judged if they do not appear to be absolutely loyal to the community and its standards and beliefs. These demands can be quite severe: anything from a forced dress style to the death of a non-vaccinated infant.

“Does the group make any physical and emotional demands – and judgemental of every dissenter?”

VIII. Loaded language
A specific type of language is often a characteristic of a sect. Although one will rarely find a sect with its own unique language, a distinctive dialect or jargon however, is quite common. This variety of language can involve anything from persuasive and manipulative phraseology to a mystic or religious language. The specific language variety is also known as a loaded language; its primary function is to make the policy of the group sound more weighty and plausible. The loaded language can also produce problems for group members who have grown accustomed to the language of the sect.

“Does the group have a specific language variety (jargon, phraseology, et cetera) to talk about its policies and beliefs?”

IX. No criticism
Doubting any of the policies or beliefs of the sect is seen as rebellious behaviour and will be crushed. Group members receive appreciation from other members only by portraying unquestioned loyalty and submission.

“Does the group not allow any criticism on its policies or beliefs?”

X. Lying and intimidation
Inside the sect it is usual to lie about reality. First of all, the belief system of the sect must remain an absolute truth at all times. This means any criticism must be crushed. Second, critics and dissenters are often lied about to discredit their name to the remaining members of the group. Chronic lying, psychological-, and perhaps even physical intimidation may be used to smother the person who walks out of step.

“Does the group use lies, psychological-, or physical intimidation to contradict and/or smother a critic or dissenter?”

XI. Threats and blackmail
Members who do not submit to the group or even attempt to leave can be reproached or even threatened with all sorts of consequences.

“Does the group try to prevent its members from leaving?”

“Does the group reproach or even threaten any dissenter?”

English: Taraxacum sect. Ruderalia Deutsch: Ge...

A common dandelion known as – in this case, ironically – Taraxacum Sect

XII. Infliction of rights and privacy
i. Infractions on own identity
Every member must conform to the group identity. It is not allowed to do research outside of the group, every member must accept and believe what the leaders say. The group may also try to drive the member into submission; this may involve constant contradiction, intimidation, or manipulation, even withholding information, financial means, food, or sleep.

“Does the group infringe on the personal identity of its members?”

ii. Personal infractions
Friendships and relationships with partners, children, and parents can be severely inhibited or damaged.

“Are any friendships or relationships with partners, children, or parents severely inhibited or damaged by members of the group?”

iii. Financial infractions
The group can pressure people into making donations to the sect. Methods of acquiring funds vary from implanting a certain understood obligation to donate money to using severe measures like manipulative pressure or threats.

“Are the members of the group in any way obliged to donate money to the group?”

iv. Infractions on contact with the outside world
Almost everybody outside a sect is usually portrayed as bad, unworthy, underdeveloped, or dangerous. In doing so, every member is isolated from the outside world. Everyone in the world outside the sect is – to a certain extent – portrayed as an enemy of the group, or its policies, or both.

“Is everyone outside the group in question portrayed as bad, unworthy, underdeveloped, or even dangerous?”

v. Infractions on time and privacy
The sect regularly checks up on its members to see if all members are sound and loyal; it also uses a lot of its time and energy for regular group activities.

“Does the group regularly check up on its members to review their loyalty and attitude?”

“Does the group regularly come together for regular group activities?”

XIII. Possible consequences for the sect member
i. Personality change
Virtually all the people in the outside world (especially friends and family outside the sect) can say they do not recognise the person who has been consumed by the sect. They often find the member irritable, critical, and reproachful when he is contradicted on doctrinal, dogmatic, ideological, or religious matters.

“Do group members seem irritable, critical, and reproachful when contradicted on doctrinal, dogmatic, ideological, or religious matters?”

ii. Loss of identity
The group member cannot (or at least with some difficulty) see him/herself as an individual.

“Do group members experience difficulty or even fail to see themselves as an individual?”

iii. Paranoia
The critical outsider is seen as a threat. If someone says anything negative about the group, whether this critic may be right or not, this person is seen as someone who persecutes the group. This is an obvious reaction since criticism in any form is not easily accepted – if it is accepted at all.

“Does the group experience criticism (founded or unfounded) as persecution and therefore a threat?”

iv. Social alienation
Members of a sect can lose contact with the outside world. This happens because members are manipulated into believing the outside world is fundamentally wrong as well as wicked and bad. Nevertheless, members who acquire contacts or even relations outside the group are reprimanded, rebuked, and shamed into breaking off these contacts. It can therefore seem as if people who are living in a sect display a certain amount of naivety – social alienation is one of the major factors what causes this.

“Do group members believe that the ‘outside world’ is fundamentally wrong as well as wicked and bad?”

“Do group members display a certain naivety in their contact with the outside world?”

“Do group members have a lot of contact with the outside world? – are they criticised for this?”

XIV. Severe feelings of guilt
All activities which are not in accordance with the teachings of the sect – activities which are not allowed for all sorts of reasons – are considered shortcomings in its members and judged accordingly. It is in the interest of the group to exaggerate any former breach of uniformity; the sect will repeatedly remind members of their previous offences, causing feelings of guilt and remorse. It is also common for the sect to remind its members that they are never doing enough – no effort is too great. In doing so, the sect entraps its members into a web of guilt, and constantly tries to make its members more obedient. This uniformity is often only achieved at the cost of rational thought, which causes all sorts of problems for the members of the group.

“Does the group try to remind its members that they are never doing enough for the benefit of the group?”

“Does the group try to remind its members of past actions or present practices in order to cause feelings of guilt and remorse?”

See other: Admin’s Choice Posts

See other: Hall of Fame Posts

On Friendship

‘Baldrick, does it have to be this way? Our valued friendship ending with me cutting you into strips and telling the Prince that you walked over a very sharp cattle grid in an extremely heavy hat?’

– Joseph M. 1998. Blackadder The Whole Damn Dynasty London, Great Britain: Penguin Books (1999) p. 329

The Triangular Theory of Love

The theory characterizes love within the context of interpersonal relationships by three different components:

  • Intimacy – Which encompasses feelings of closeness, connectedness.
  • Passion – Which encompasses drives that lead to romance, physical attraction, and sexual consummation.
  • Commitment – Which encompasses, in the short term, the decision to remain with another, and in the long term, the shared achievements and plans made with that other.

Francesco Hayez’s Milano

The ‘amount’ of love one experiences depends on the absolute strength of these three components; the ‘type’ of love one experiences depends on their strengths relative to each other. Different stages and types of love can be explained as different combinations of these three elements; for example, the relative emphasis of each component changes over time as an adult romantic relationship develops. A relationship based on a single element is less likely to survive than one based on two or three elements.

The three components, pictorially labelled on the vertices of a triangle, interact with each other and with the actions they produce and with the actions that produce them so as to form seven different kinds of love experiences – non-love is not represented. The size of the triangle functions to represent the ‘amount’ of love – the bigger the triangle the greater the love. The shape of the triangle functions to represent the ‘type’ of love, which may vary over the course of the relationship:

Liking and friendship in this case is not used in a trivial sense. This intimate liking characterizes true friendships, in which a person feels a warmth, and a closeness with another but not intense passion or long-term commitment.

Infatuated love is pure passion. Romantic relationships often start out as infatuated love and become romantic love as intimacy develops over time. However, without developing intimacy or commitment, infatuated love may disappear suddenly.

Empty love is characterized by commitment without intimacy or passion. Sometimes, a stronger love deteriorates into empty love. In cultures in which arranged marriages are common, relationships often begin as empty love and develop into one of the other forms with the passing of time.

Romantic love bonds individuals emotionally through intimacy and physically through passionate arousal.

Companionate love is an intimate, non-passionate type of love that is stronger than friendship because of the element of long-term commitment. Sexual desire is not an element of companionate love. This type of love is often found in marriages in which the passion has gone out of the relationship but a deep affection and commitment remain. The love ideally shared between family members is a form of companionate love, as is the love between close friends who have a platonic but strong friendship.

Fatuous love can be exemplified by a whirlwind courtship and marriage in which a commitment is motivated largely by passion without the stabilizing influence of intimacy. A relationship, however, whereby an individual party agrees to sexual favours purely out of commitment issues, or is pressured or forced into sexual acts does not comprise fatuous love, and instead tends more to empty love.

Consummate love is the complete form of love, representing an ideal relationship toward which people strive. Of the seven varieties of love, consummate love is theorized to be that love associated with the so-called perfect couple. These couples will continue to have great sex fifteen years or more into the relationship, they cannot imagine themselves happy over the long-term with anyone else, they overcome their few difficulties gracefully, and each delight in the relationship with one other. However, psychologists caution that maintaining a consummate love may be even harder than achieving it. He stresses the importance of translating the components of love into action. Without expression, even the greatest of loves can die. Thus, consummate love may not be permanent. If passion is lost over time, it may change into companionate love.