A reflection on friendship in these times

The increasingly early socialization shows that the family influence coexists with that of institutions such as the school or the club, in which the peer group takes on an increasingly important role. The family today is more permeable to the environment, therefore there are multiple links in the life of a child or adolescent that can contribute its specificity and novelty. In other words, peers are present in a person’s life almost from the beginning. They are also the ones who allow experimenting in the field outside the family and “get rid of” -gradually- of the family (a process that psychoanalysts call “exogamous output”).

It will take one more step for a pair to be considered “dude”: friend, then, will be the one with whom you can temporarily leave the “social mask” and show off “between-house”; or with whom you can establish a situation of intimacy and share the same affective state. Intimacy is also associated with being able to be “alone” in the presence of another -without this causing discomfort- and at the same time being emotionally available to him.

It will also be the one that grants signs through which we can recognize ourselves, consolidating our feeling of “sameness”. Friendship requires time, affection, shared stories, agreements -and also disagreements- and the freedom to choose each other again in each encounter.

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Regarding the meetings today technology allows to be accompanied permanently through social networks. New codes have been created, ways of sharing and expressing feelings with photos, messages, videos, emojis, which help to consolidate the bond and are ways of letting the other know that you have them in mind. In addition, there are many stories of people who, thanks to virtual communication, recovered relationships from the past, or kept in touch with those who live in other countries.

We are in a moment of paradigm shift in which the category of “presence-absence” is being reformulated, as well as that of “geographical distance”. There are many friendships that bear the stamp of a non-face-to-face opening moment (or opening scene). “Being with” no longer depends solely on physical presence. As an example I will cite the case of Ana, who has her mother hospitalized with a very serious illness. When she visits her in the hospital, most of the time she is looking at her cell phone. It is difficult for her parents to understand that Ana “carries her friends inside her device” and that is the way they accompany her in the hard experience that she must face.

True friendship is an experience of mutual transformation between people who forge their thoughts and emotions from their relationship. We are at the same time each one alone and each one in permanent relationship with those we consider friends, who enrich us and give us back a multiplicity of versions of ourselves.

Degree in Psychology. Psychoanalyst. Member of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association. Specialist in couples and families. She is the author of the book “La familia y la ley. Conflicts-Transformations”.

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