Friendship is a necessary aspect of every human’s life, as we are not self sufficient in and of ourselves (Other Selves, pg. 30). Despite its necessity, in some cases we are either forced or morally required to end these relationships. When the trust between two parties has been broken, the loyalty of the friendship is soiled, and it is therefore a true and just action to end the friendship. First, let’s define what it means to be a friend. Friends can be described as: “an intimate associate, reliable, one who is not an enemy or foe, an ally, etc” (Webster’s, pg. 540).
Thus, based upon the definition of a friend, we can assert that friends should not betray one another, regardless of the circumstance. This is true, if and only if, it is in the best interest of the friend. Secondly, trust is an issue that every platonic friendship must deal with. Whether dealing with matters of trust is active or passive, its power is still a prevalent and pertinent quality that is mutually understood. Trust is an unwritten rule between friends and is defined as the “firm belief or confidence in the honesty, integrity, reliability, justice, etc of another person. Webster’s, pg. 1436) Trust is also described as “faith”(Webster’s, pg. 1436). When using a word such as “faith,” that describes a substantial belief in one another, it is very difficult to argue that breaking the trust of the friendship is ever in the best interest of the friend. In addition, friends are loyal. By definition loyal friends are, “faithful to those persons ideals” and are, “under obligation to defend, support, or be true to,” each other (Webster’s, pg. 802).
Although the definitions of loyalty, as well as its connotations, scream commitment loyalty actually exists in many degrees. Loyalty can be seen as the pinnacle of the friendship in which case you would be willing to risk life and limb for that person. Or at the opposite end of the spectrum loyalty may not be taken seriously at all. For example, you may be loyal to the fish in your fish tank; in that you feed them, treat them well, change the water, etc. but in the case of a serious house fire you would not go running back in to rescue them.
Granted there are also many stages in-between, total loyalty and minimal loyalty, but the integrity of the friendship is based around these two principles, loyalty and trust. Loyalty can determine the reliability of the friendship, just as well as the amount of trust that can be placed in that friend. As we all know, not every friendship is one in which we can trust completely, nor do we feel entirely loyal to those people. Therefore, it is true that we can have friendships with a varying degree of loyalty and trust.
Each friendship takes on its own uniqueness and attributes that can be labeled as one of the following: friendships of utility, pleasure, and character. Friendships of utility are those relationships in which we make use of that friend because they provide the means to an effective service, that we don’t possess. In friendships of utility there is generally a minimal amount of loyalty. For example, you know Joe only because he’s your mechanic, and you trust that he will repair your car.
You are also loyal to him, in that you’re a return customer, but if he is going out of business and wants to barrow $20,000 to restart Joes’ Car Shop, your most likely not going to just hand the money over to him keeping that “firm belief or confidence in the honesty, integrity, and’ reliability” of Joe (Webster’s, pg. 1436). In many circumstances this individual is our friend solely because of the effective service they provide, but there are also conditions in which friendships of utility can also be pleasurable.
If you enjoy the person more than you enjoy the service they are performing, it then becomes a friendship of pleasure. Friendships of pleasure are relationships in which we enjoy the pleasure derived from that companion. It may be that we completely enjoy spending time with this person involving a certain activity, but would not like to spend time with this person outside those parameters of the established relationship. In this type of friendship, your much more likely to show a greater loyalty to that person than you would be in a friendship of utility.
Although the loyalty may be stronger in this friendship it is not generally absolute. For example, Joe and you are now closer friends, he still works on your car and you still are loyal about bringing your car back time after time. Only in this circumstance Joe and you go out fishing all the time because he is a knowledgeable fisherman and not too bad of a guy. Although you would never bring him home to eat dinner with your family because of his, habitual, foul mannerism.
Essentially you and Joe are friends because you enjoy each other, but only in the context of those set parameters. Just as before, Joe needs $20,000 to restart his failing car business. Are you going to be totally loyal to this person you call a friend? Most likely you will not. Whereas, in the rare event that you find a companion pleasurable in all aspects and find them to compliment your personality, you have found a friendship of character, thus the likelihood of you helping Joe in his time of need would increase nearly 100%.
A friend of character will form a true friendship in all aspects of the word. This is the most difficult type of friend to realize, but will be the most long lasting and sustaining friendship. This relationship is one in which loyalty and trust, are of the utmost importance to those involved. These two issues are not compromised as a result, and are therefore sustained with religious devotion. Specifically the loyalty in this type of friendship is absolute, simply being expected from one another. Moreover, the friendship is very fulfilling.
Now that we have defined what it means to be a friend and we have established the traits shared among those different degrees of friendship, we can establish just cause for ending a friendship, based upon a breach of trust. About 3 years ago I worked as a leader at a high adventure camp that was involved in activities such as rock climbing, repelling, white water rafting, caving, and even a high ropes course. In each of these activities we relied on the trust that was built throughout the week to progress from one event to another.
By the time the kids left, they not only believed in themselves but they also believed and trusted in the group. We accomplished confidence amongst the group by doing trust-building exercises that started off relatively easy and progressed, becoming increasingly complex and ever more risky. At the beginning we began on the ground, placing one of the group members in the middle of a circle, having them close there eyes and cross there arms “trusting” that the group will not drop them when they fell backwards, forwards, sideways, etc.
Once everyone in the group felt comfortable and trusted that they would not be dropped we would then move to the next exercise. A member of the group would stand atop a five-foot platform and would proceed to fall directly backwards into the arms of everyone in the group. This was generally the point at which the trust was cemented in the group or if the group member was dropped trust was lost forever. The same philosophy of trust building that was used at this high adventure camp, to accomplish new goals and reach new heights, can be readily applied to everyday life and is just an exaggerated model of how human nature works.
This idea of trust in human nature became very apparent and was demonstrated day in and day out through much of my work as a Peer Councilor. I spoke with countless individuals involving nearly every scenario imaginable. We spoke on issues of trust ranging from rape to peoples every day battles with their parents. One common ground between these two diverse topics is the issue of trust, and under most circumstances along with trust comes loyalty. For example, lets look at a scenario of an everyday relationship involving a male (Adam) and a female (Cindy) and analyze their issue of trust.
This couple (Adam and Cindy) has been dating for eleven months, and they both leave for separate colleges straight out of high school. The last eleven months of their relationship has been great so Adam and Cindy couldn’t be happier. Well, one night Cindy goes out to a party, has too much to drink and ends up kissing another guy. The next morning Cindy immediately calls Adam and explains the story to him saying, “it will never happen again,” and that, “it meant nothing”.
There are now two things that have occurred in this relationship. The trust is destroyed and the loyalty has been seriously compromised. This does not mean that they can’t still care about each other but it does means that Cindy and Adam would have to begin again and re-mend the gash in there relationship in order to continue a normal healthy relationship. Regardless of the amount of work put into setting things right, there will always be the issue of trust sitting in the back of Adams mind.
A friendships or relationships thats breached by a disregard for the trust established (as we saw in the last example) is never the same again as a result of the knowledge that the loyalty meant nothing or very little to the other person. This blatant disregard for the other person and their feelings is reason enough to end the friendship or relationship. If someone is willing to compromise your feelings and your trust, is it worth the pain that they have already put you thru to rebuild that relationship just so that they may do the same thing again? If you believe in the definitions of loyalty and trust the answer is a definite NO!