Friendship as Soulcraft: How I made friends in my thirties. (Matt Dinan, Fall 2023, Hedgehog Review)

As Aristotle points out, even if one had every other good, one would still choose to have friends. This recognition is what led me to make friends in my thirties: I came to see that because you don’t need friends, and they don’t need you, you must seek them out. And an insufficient understanding of how this makes friendship different from other forms of love is one of the primary roadblocks to finding friendship in our time and place.

There is security in the messy neediness of love, the occult magnetic fields that attract and repel. Passion means to suffer, to be set upon. This is not to speak ill of love, but only to observe that since friendship is more freely chosen, it rests on unstable ground. Romantic love holds us together through mutual awareness of our neediness, but friendship does not arise from any need. Filial love is so powerful because it is, ideally without caveat, the sort of belonging one can neither earn nor lose. Some of the deepest hurts in human life consequently arise when we do lose that love, when the familiar becomes estranged. Family members, even those in a family you have some choice in forming, are the same type—“kin.” But the friend is some “other,” a stranger I have come to prefer.