The Do’s and Don’ts of Friendship

Rachel Pomerance, the health editor of U.S. News and World Report, just did a great piece about Ethical Wisdom for Friends for the magazine.  We were on the phone for over an hour, exchanging stories about complicated friends (and friendships), jealousy, competition, betrayal, and romantic attraction between friends, and how to deal with friends that sap your energy, mooch, or don’t come through for us in times of need.  We agreed that friendship is a deceptively tricky subject, and that friendships are as complicated, and important, as romantic and family ties (though they rarely get that kind of attention).  I’m grateful for this generous piece and glad that Rachel got the book.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Friendship

You know the friend who somehow saps your strength after every get-together? Or the one who perennially gives you a boost? How about the friend who feels like the sister you’ve always wanted or reminds you a little too much of the nosy one you’ve already got?  

Our relationships with friends are critical to our health and happiness, and yet, they are often sorely appreciated or understood, says Mark Matousek, who distills the do’s and don’ts of friendship in his recent book, “Ethical Wisdom for Friends: How to Navigate Life’s Most Complicated, Curious and Common Relationship Dilemmas.”

“Friendship is what sustains you when things get unruly with family and with lovers,” even though we tend to prioritize friendship after these relationships, he says. Still, he points out that friendship is “very fragile” and “an affair of the heart.” “All you have to do is lose one really good friend to get [that],” he says.

A writing teacher and personal development coach, Matousek’s book is meant to provide a practical follow-up to his book “Ethical Wisdom,” in which he looked at morality from a social and neurological perspective. Here, he tackles the thorny issues that threaten friendships, such as jealousy, competition and a lack of reciprocity.  Read More...

 

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