“Old Friends” vs newbies

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After a little discussion with Cyril, my step-brother-slash-old-friend, made me think twice about the value of old friends versus new ones. Being someone forced to compare the “American” way versus “old Europe’s” in virtually every domain, the notion of friendship and how each culture makes/keeps friends has always been somewhat of a “free punch” to the superficial Americans. In essence, Americans supposedly make friends quickly but don’t really intend to deepen into a “lasting friend.” On the other hand, the Europeans are known for being “cold” at the outset, but treasuring long-term deep friends. In the end, both styles have positives and negatives but, because of the different cultural perspectives, each style becomes offensive or confusing for the other culture.

Then, there is curious notion: have you ever felt that longer term friends are actually less likely to come to your help as the baggage creeps up on the partnership. New friends, in contrast, sometimes are more “adapted” in that they reflect the more recent history and are also less bridled with “history” (read: unpaid debts, repetitive nature of the demands…). Certainly, I love my old friends with whom I choose to stay in touch with great affection. But, I always believe there is room for good new friends.

Anyway, thought the topic was worth a quick spin.

7 Comments, RSS

  1. Anonymous

    Shelley says the best friendships are the ones that start without intention at all but instead a spontaneous connection. Whether it lasts or it was fleeting, does not measure how great and deep the friendship!

  2. Anonymous

    The “old” in old friends is supposed to give a uniqueness to the relationship. There is a saying: “you can count on one hand the number of old friends”.
    It is a fact that old friends are more connected to your life since they have shared more memories.
    I do not understand why it is easier to GET help from new friends since it should be easier to ask old friends? We have less trouble asking old friends for help and it is most of the time new friends that comes forward to help.

  3. Minter

    One thing that might be having an impact on “new” friends is the immediacy of communication. Used to be you had to wait days if not weeks for a letter to arrive. Now, between SMS, skype and blogs, you can have and keep international friends sans souci. Anyway, I think you are right, Shelley: it isn’t about the length of the friendship. It’s about the connection. Old friends are always good to remind you of your roots!

  4. Ned Bouhalassa

    Well, from my humble experience, when you have to be in the hospital for a while, it’s great to mix it up: old friends, new friends, bring ’em on! An important consideration, of course, is which ones will bring you decent food? As for the new connected world, I wonder if it isn’t easier to have short exchanges with new friends than with old ones? Do you feel that you owe old friends more than a quick email or text message?

  5. Anonymous

    As the old Girl Scout song goes “Make new friends but keep the old, some are silver and the others gold”… a friend is a friend be it old or new – the best ones are the ones that bring a smile to your face either from a shared present moment or from a memory of shared experiences past.(and thanks to technology we can more easily remind the other that we are thinking of them now)…. and I don’t agree that Americans don’t keep old friends as well as European – we certainly do…..go to any American wedding, 40th birthday party , etc and you’ll see the childhood bonds still there. People are people and we all crave connection and re-connection with ones we have connected successfully with in the past. So go forth and make friends, but don’t forget the ones who stripped naked with you in the forrest – we would do it again tomorrow if the opportunity presented itself. It’s only logistics that get in the way.

  6. MJ

    I completely agree with the posting before mine. Americans are very diverse, with many cultural legacies, yet so many connections despite the vast distances. In the area of America in which I live, old friends are valued and revered. New friends are always welcome. Even when forming new friendships, I often find that there is some sort of connection — new friend’s cousin went to college in California with my pal’s older brother… I also think that it’s the connection, that spark of familiarity, that “it” factor, that determines if the friend will be a lasting one or another acquaintance. I’ve got old friends and new ones, neither, by definition, friendlier than the other. I’m just fortunate they all put up with me!

  7. Minter

    Glad to have some wonderful friends exchanging on this very topic… warms the soul. Certainly, I don’t really believe Americans are shallow or short-lived in their friendships… anymore than I believe that the French are always cold at the beginning. It’s just a reflection of each culture’s own values and perspectives which, by their variance, make it difficult to emit or understand the various coded signals of friendship. A recent acquaintance said: “Getting to know a foreigner is sometimes much easier than meeting a compatriot.” Instead of getting stuck in the habitual codes, you are free to be who you are… Anyway, always ready for the woods…. maybe in Second Life!

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