December 2017
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soulfriendship explanation


Several of you have asked what I mean by soulfriendship, so I'm going to explain the necessary qualities... and how my ideas have changed from last year's. I've learned a lot through trial and error...

updated version can be found here


Soul friendship requires:
  • Love. Obviously you have to respect and enjoy each other enough to want a deep bond.
  • Permanence. This means that if I babysit your child and s/he runs out into the street while I'm distracted, gets hit by a car and dies, you don't just hate me and drop me from your life. You can hate me, but you work with me to get back to a loving relationship until we either get there or one of us dies. And vice versa -- no matter what you do to me, we continue an active relationship until death (and hopefully past it).
  • Trust and Honesty. This means two things: first, that we share our thoughts and feelings without 'prettying them up'; second, that we make the following commitment -- if I say something that hurts/offends you, you MUST tell me right away, and vice versa. Because it is on little offenses that rifts get their start.
  • Openness. This means that we seek to learn more about ourselves and seek to share that with each other, continually. Nothing is hidden; instead, we offer truths to each other freely. This is not a passive quality.
    This is something that I did not realize last year... I thought openness and honesty were one and the same. Openness is much rarer than honesty, and absolutely essential to a soulfriendship. This is where Ashley and I fell apart.
  • Willingness to Change. This means that you must be prepared to make some compromises and alter yourself in some ways to better fit the other. One of those ways is exploring the other's interests, even if they seem uninteresting to you at first. I'm lucky in that very little bores me: I have always found it fairly easy to develop a true interest in something my friend is passionate about. I'm usually not willing to bother for those who are not soul friends (or potentials), though, because I tend to obsess, and I try to limit my adoption of obsessions. This also means that you are willing to modify your behavior in slight ways in order to better fit with the other.
  • Sacrifice. By this I mean sacrificing your time, effort, and care for the other. Being willing to drop everything if the other has a need, even if that need is merely emotional, and even if that need means a whole lotta effort (like helping move).
  • Humility. This means dropping your pride and asking for what you want/need, and being willing to accept loving prodding in sensitive areas.
  • Similarity. This doesn't mean merely similarity in tastes or personality -- it means similarity in the level of maturity. If one person is significantly further along in development, that person could easily be put on a pedestal, and the other could feel inferior or treated like a child -- there needs to be a similarity so that the friendship is balanced.
    This, believe it or not, is something that I did not realize until last year. I ended up hurting Ashley, unintentionally, because she had put me on a pedestal and expected perfection from me, and I ain't perfect by a long shot.

I've asked people before, and had success with Ben, and despite what anyone would think, I consider my soulfriendship with Kaylene to be a success, despite it's short life (I think of us as on hiatus rather than over). But I have had so many failures that now I'm scared to ask. Instead, I long to find a person who will already be ready; I won't have to try to convince her of the value of soul friendship, and she won't have to grow rapidly for my sake. In this matter, we'll fit together perfectly, and then we can help each other grow in other areas. It may be unrealistic, but it's what I want.

Last time I posted this, I got a lot of responses saying that it's harsh or unnatural to ask someone this, that it should naturally develop. I agree that the bond should develop naturally, but I'd be offering all that stuff I mentioned. I am capable of giving that; for me to actually give it is quite a gift, and I think the other person should be aware of the gift I'm giving them and willing to give it back. It's like a marriage; usually you get to know them and bond with them before you ask them to share the rest of your life. Proposing a deeper, more committed relationship is the next step, and is neither harsh nor unnatural, but an expression of love that believes it is stronger than death.

connecting:

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Comments
pinkroo ══╣angelina╠══
I would love to have this kind of friendship, but I think I am also scared to death of it. The one person I have really pursued in the last 2 years has let me in a bit, but has also told me she feels like she can never be enough for me. I don't feel like I'm asking too much, but she does, so...friendships can be so complicated.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I think the problem is, people who are actually willing to commit their hearts are very rare these days... people are in so much pain that they build layers and layers of shell around them until even they don't know how to get to the core. It's impossible to really share or connect when you are that guarded. :-( I hope you find someone who is willing and able to give as much as you.
pinkroo ══╣╠══
thanks--I think I will.
catwingz ══╣╠══
Openness is so incredibly important. When I feel my soul friend withdrawing from me, even for emotional reasons, I really want to encourage her out of her shell. When she's withdrawing, presumably because she doesn't want to involve me in everything since I only see her once a week, I feel like she's keeping her thoughts, her love from me. I know she's just distracted and anxious, and on anti-depressants, but I want to be there for her. I guess I could give my love to her, since I really want it from her.
belenen ══╣gentle╠══
♥ I feel you. I don't think there is any room in soulfriendship for withdrawal, because withdrawal is closed, it is the opposite of openness. Just because openness is painful sometimes doesn't mean it should be avoided.

I hope you guys work out a more balanced state so that you can both get what you need. Perhaps a trial period of complete openness, say a month with neither of you withdrawing?
catwingz ══╣╠══
I feel that would be very powerful, and I think part of the reason for her closing off is because she is in the midst of these life situations that are taking over from her priority of being open and loving. She's not quite as advanced as I am, in that way.

It's the kind of thing where ideally she should be more open, just to let life flow through, but for her, with possible depression always there, and nervous energy with wondering about school, her kids, finances, it's more difficult to be open.

I will try and raise this with her, because I think it's important for our soulfriendship.
camilleyun ══╣Pieces of Me╠══
I don't think it's harsh or unnatural. I think perhaps most people want this type of friendship but either cannot articulate it or never would because in today's society they would be viewed as unreasonable.

Ever strolled down the self-help aisle in the book store? All these books talk about you you you and how YOU need to do everything and not have expectations from people.

Ian has come to accept whatever life throws at him after having been disappointed so many times. He told me that he no longer has expectations because that way he can never be disappointed. This leads to him appearing apathetic. We constantly have misunderstandings over this because he insists he DOES care although that is not what he is showing by being willing to accept the unacceptable instead of problem-solving to make it better. But I digress.

Maybe there are other people who ARE intersted in a soul friendship with you but would never broach the subject. Everyone hates rejection and even more so when they are deeply invested emotionally.

It may be hard for someone to ask you about this due to feeling intimidated not because of what your list entails but perhaps due to having heard so much about this person or that and feeling like they would always be less than. People like to feel important and I know if I had a friend I wanted to be soul friends with but she was overfocused on someone else that would hurt me very deeply because that is what I am wishing for my own self with her but someone else has her attention. Sharing that much intensity can be very difficult and it could be where you have enocuntered difficulties in the past by trying to spread yourself out too much between your husband and multiple people as soul friends.

But what do I know? I don't have those kinds of friendships. I've always wanted one but never gotten there as I am one of those people who would not say anything to others because most people would look at me like I am crazy. And you know what? I already get enough of that as it is which makes me very uncomfortable.

I could be totally wrong about all this but I just felt like sharing my opinion.
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
I think the problem is, people who are actually willing to commit their hearts are very rare these days... people are in so much pain that they build layers and layers of shell around them until even they don't know how to get to the core. It's impossible to really share or connect when you are that guarded. :-(

Maybe there are other people who ARE intersted in a soul friendship with you but would never broach the subject. Everyone hates rejection and even more so when they are deeply invested emotionally.

Thank you for saying that, it helped give me the courage to approach Hannah about soulfriendship, and it turns out that it was exactly as you said -- she wanted it but had no idea that I did too.

It may be hard for someone to ask you ... perhaps due to having heard so much about this person or that and feeling like they would always be less than.

I think maybe you mean yourself? And I hate the idea that you might feel that way. I don't know how to express this very well, but it's just not true. There is enough room in my heart for you, even now when I have just started this soulfriendship with Hannah. I appreciate you and Hannah for very very different reasons -- there is no way I could think she was better, because there is just no way to compare! What's better, the ability to fly or the ability to breathe underwater? I could never decide.

I do think that soulfriendship requires an incubation period, and it will be a while before I am ready to develop another one, but I can still connect very deeply to people and have other very close friendships. I would like to have a deeper friendship with you. Your emotional honesty is so rare and I love you so much for it. Even though I was very sorry that I hurt you by not putting up a birthday post for you, I was amazed and loved you so much for taking it to heart -- because that is something I would do. And you were honest about it, which is something very few people would be.
paravati ══╣╠══
I would like to add some things.
They may fall under the categories that you've already described, but a few things stand out for me personally that I would add to this list.

1. Include your soul-friend in your decision making processes. If you're thinking about moving to a new place, you'd automatically try to make sure you weren't moving too far away, or to an inconvenient place so that your friend would see less of you. If you want to go out and do something, you automatically come up with ideas that would include your friend's interests. If she likes to play pool, you wouldn't come up with a "bowling night" and then not call and let her know and exclude her just because she doesn't like bowling. If you really WANTED to go bowling and you knew she hated it, you should tell her about it first and give her the CHANCE to decline, without assuming that she will. I know I've been hurt a lot by people who assume that they know my interests and will automatically rule me out, when all along I might have been ablet to stifle my horror at a bowling night and would have gone along just to be with the people I cared about.

2. Make sure you share the same definition of love. What does love mean for each of you? If one person states that to them, love is simply "opening the door," but to you - it's diving into the ocean holding hands... You might not be compatible. You have to have the same idea of love before you can share it.

3. You mentioned communication and giving. I heard somewhere once that a proper relationship can only be formed when people who have problems resolve them like this: One person agrees to try harder, and the other agrees to lower their expectations. That's great, to a point. If I'm constantly lowering my expectations because you can't meet them, eventually I'll end up disrespecting you. And if you're constantly agreeing to try harder in order to meet my needs, you'll end up resenting me. So there has to be a balance. Instead of that statement as it stands, I think I'd modify it to say that BOTH people need to agree to try harder and to lower their expectations, and that it has to be a giving and taking thing.

4. Love is not an "obligation". You should spend time together because you CAN, and not because you feel you OUGHT TO. The moments you share with someone should never be taken for granted. Evenings work better and are more meaningful when they are planned out and the time is spent appreciating and enjoying each other, instead of hurriedly snatching some free time at the end of the day when you're both grumpy and tired or something. Spend time together because you CAN, when you have something decent to offer, and not because you think you MUST, especially when you're low and don't have anything to give.

5. And finally, define good and bad feelings TOGETHER and decide which ones you're going to feed. The feelings you feed are the feelings you feel most often. If you decide you want to feed honesty and openness, you must make the effort. And pretty soon, that's what you'll feel. If your friend is insecure, for example, and is constantly feeding her insecurity (while you are not), it will eventually bring YOU down because you're constantly struggling against it. So it's important, to me, to define what feelings are going to be fed "together" and what feelings are not.

I miss having a soul friend, too.
belenen ══╣connate╠══
Re: I would like to add some things.
1. I completely agree.!
2. Again I agree. ;-)
3. VERY good point, and it makes me feel all proud because that's how Ben and I handle arguements.
4. That also is a very good point, and one I need to take into account in my marriage. We've been just snatching bits of time for a long while now... that needs to change. We need to practice appreciating each other's time.
5. ooooooooooh excellent point. It's a sort of subconscious practice with me, that I never really thought about, but it should definitely be something that is talked out and agreed upon.


I really want to meet you and spend time with you. You are so amazing. ♥
juansrx ══╣*ash1╠══
I still have to learn a lot from human relationships, but I think I´ve found a good source for learning...Great method of friendship, friendship two sincere hearts can be well described in your post.

But, I still have some "thoughts" about some topics:

point one: completely agree!

point two: Remember, sometimes this takes some time for wounds to heal, but this point can be perfectly completed with point 6.

point three: completely agree!

point four: agree!,but some people are shy, very shy, and sometimes they come from not-so-pretty relations before, so, this is another time/based objective.

point five: half and half, If you want to be sincere with others, you must be sincere with yourself, and if you find you CAN´T assimlate one of his/her likes, you must say "sorry but I don´t like...", if you really can´t. And I´m completely agree with behavior modification(in SLIGHTLY ways, of course).

point six: Completely agree!(but always possible???).

point seven:Completely agree!!

point eight: Agree!!, but you can help your soulfriend to grow, to learn, etc.

And last: Asking for this can be harsh, but using subtle influence..I think it isnt.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
If you want to be sincere with others, you must be sincere with yourself, and if you find you CAN´T assimlate one of his/her likes, you must say "sorry but I don´t like...", if you really can´t.

I agree. ;-) For instance, if my soulfriend loved country music, I would try to tolerate it, but I don't think I could ever love it!
darkpool ══╣╠══
You should read the book Bruchko. It has a good example of friendship that sounds very much like this. You might find it interesting anyway.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I did read it a long time ago... I don't remember much though, I should read it again.
valynn ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣console╠══
*snuggles you* I miss your lj-presence! You've been so rarely around lately.

I pray that you find it. ♥
valynn ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣amused╠══
well, none of us are perfect. This is all stuff I work towards, I don't think I have any of it down pat. ;-)
kouhaataru ══╣╠══
Hmm... somehow I ended out making a really long comment, I said a lot of crap quite frankly but it was a process and I actually changed in the midst of it and might have finally found something I searched long and hard for. In case that comes out I don't want to change it. Anyway hopefully this will be of benefit to someone else but if not then not.

I've noticed this about you before, perhaps because I am similar in a number of intances but... you get too hung up on a lot of things and end out over analyzing them and exaggerating them. I think this causes you unnecessary distress. I think that this "soul friendship" thing is a good example. Sure there are all kinds of friendships and all kinds of bonds, and the best among them are similar to what you're talking about but...

In the end the only thing that matters between people is acceptance. Not even caring or emotions, those can be totally illusory and in any case are impermanent sensations. However to totally accept that someone is who they are, even if there are things about them you don't like, is what love ultimately comes down to. I say this as a result of any number of bizarre things but this is basically the end goal and main teaching of the buddha. That's a long story though so to get to the point.

The buddha lived entirely with love, he was the friend of all even if they did not want to be his friend, even if they wanted to do him harm, even if they disliked him. He was still willing to accept them and try to guide them to live better for their own sake rather than his own. In this he was able to save and reform many people and that's why buddhism is one of the world's major religions even though it started out with absolutely nothing to do with divinity. In fact I still think of it more as a matter of philosophy and have been meaning to look into how it turned into what it has today from that kind of start.

Alright well I'm already being overly preachy so I'll go all out. I myself am no buddha, I don't have any desire to be. I also sure as hell don't even fully accept myself. I can say with no doubt in my mind that I do not love myself, I am in fact entirely dissatisfied and even disgusted with myself and not a moment goes by that I don't want to change myself. Though you and I are almost entirely different people with different ways of life, I think that you have the same phenomenal problem. You do not REALLY accept yourself, you do not REALLY love yourself, and you are trying to impose the ideals of others on yourself but of course they don't fit and you grow ever more distressed as your life goes on, you find temporary comfort in one cause or ideal or another, but then something shakes that up and you have to move on to something else. And so though your heart is full of a type of love and caring, and I would say of all the people I know you are the third or so best/nicest/whatever and I really respect that... You are on the whole not filled with love but pain. And until you can really accept and love yourself, and forget about trying to impose on yourself all the crap of other people (I realize that by telling you to do this I am contradicting my advice and undermining my opinion but that's the point! you have to find the answer for you yourself without relying on others) you will not find the sort of bonds with others you want.

*snip
kouhaataru ══╣╠══
the rest

*cough alright well I feel like I might have gone a bit too far, have been a bit too harsh and judgmental, but let me say that I went to that point not because I want to hurt you. But I say what I do because I see you confused and in pain and I care about you, so though this is all I can do I am trying to do it. I think that right about now you are reaching a point where you are ready to throw all the poison in life away and start living with happiness, spreading love and acceptance among all those you meet and improving the world.

So as I said, you need to find your own answers for what love and acceptance really are and for you I of course don't know exactly what that is. But my advice is to start by casting everything off, throwing everything away, and then accepting all of it, the love and the pain both because you can not have love without accepting the pain. I know that you have been hurt a lot more than many in life, and I think that is simultaneously the source of why you are such a good person and so troubled. So rather than fighting that you just need to clutch it close to your heart, stop worrying about it and go forward.

All that said, though quite plainly there are lots of things about you I don't agree with, I think you're wrong about etc. and obviously with me saying all this I think there are areas you could benefit from changing in... I accept that you are who you are, I accept that you might never change, and even so I am your friend, even so I care about you, even so I love you. So if you don't get too hung up on your ideals of a soul bond and if in spite of you probably feeling broadly the same way about me you can accept me. Then I think that what I feel about you (it's not even a matter of offering it's a matter of being that way) is probably about as close as the actualization of what you're looking for.

By the way, when I met you (I think it's been about 2 years though I know not) I said that I felt like you were such a good person that by knowing you I would be able to become better myself or something like that. I was right. It's been a roundabout path but I think that I only got to the point where I felt like and could say things like that because we met. So thanks for everything and good luck whatever the future holds in store.
belenen ══╣connate╠══
I say what I do because I see you confused and in pain and I care about you, so though this is all I can do I am trying to do it. I think that right about now you are reaching a point where you are ready to throw all the poison in life away and start living with happiness, spreading love and acceptance among all those you meet and improving the world.

Thank you so much for that. *huge hug* I so much appreciate the support and caring. Thank you for accepting me, loving me, exactly as I am. That is such an amazing gift, and it means the world to me. I can feel the truth in your words and know that you do not judge me; thank you. ♥ and I love you too. *huggggg*
kouhaataru ══╣╠══
*hugs back You're welcome, I appreciate what you said too. Conversely, you can know that I always try to speak the truth even when it gets me into trouble. Lately I've been trying to decide whether it's really okay to tell "white lies" or not. For example if someone asks me what I thought of their pie I will tell them what I thought of their pie and... usually they don't want to hear it. And I don't know about that, I don't like hurting people but I don't think that it's right to be dishonest either, I think that can build up and cause more damage. Maybe I just need to become more tactful or learn when to stop I don't know. It's hard though, I think the right thing is to love and accept all but it's so hard and it feels like I'm using myself up sometimes and I'm not sure that's the way to go. *sigh well that's another matter nevermind it.

By the way it's worth mentioning as a continuation of what I said that I would like to be less critical and negative, especially in what I say to others, but it's the only thing I know how to do right now. I think that eventually I will be able to see the good through the bad better, and at that time instead of saying "don't do that do this" I can just say "do this" and it will have an even better effect. I'm not there yet though, I try to be a good person but I'm just no buddha or jesus...

Actually that reminds me of a conversation I had with my friend today. I was telling him how I had "come to terms with jesus", well first I said "found" but I always knew where he was I just wasn't sure what I really thought or felt about him. Anyway I said that I felt like right now more than ever the world could use a Jesus Christ but no one would take one seriously anymore. I said that if I stood on the corner and shouted out the true (well whether they're true or not doesn't really matter, I'm talking about the positive ones like "do unto others only as you would have done unto yourself" and so on) words of jesus odds are good that no one would listen and odds are good the police would talk to me. Well maybe not if I got a permit first, it's worth consideration hmm... *eh hem anyway actually I think a large problem with america is that a lot of people are looking for a modern day jesus but instead what they've gotten are Jim Bakkers and Pat Robertsons... *sigh... Well alright I don't really want to start going into that, I'm too tired and it's too fruitless so to finish up ummm....

Oh yes, I know I'm harsh sometimes but I don't mean to be so please be patient with me since I'm still learning and growing... Actually I think the problem is that right now I am still "seeking" you know what I mean? Until I find what I'm looking for I'll just have to grope around in the dark and sometimes I'll be right and sometimes I'll be wrong...

namaste
free2be ══╣╠══
I agree with your observation. Everything we need is inside of us first, outside of us second. Eventually we come to know that both the inside and the outside are the same. Not identical, but all part of the same big thing. Accepting it all, and our own place within it, we no longer fight (as much) or struggle grasping at things we think we do not have. We realize it's all there before us. We don't always know how to "take it" all in amd accept it, quirky nature and all, but that is our own problem, our own failing, not a problem caused or solved by others.

Belenen, your descriptions are beautiful and I assure you such people are already within the sphere of your life, let yourself have them. We always seem to be in the way of our own progress, although we do not always see it from that point of view and therefore may feel powerless but I again assure you we are not! Our own illusions trap us, sadly, in exactly the ways we want them to.
kouhaataru ══╣╠══
hmm... umm... I can't believe anyone else actually read that, I am impressed. I am doubly impressed that it was a positive comment about what I said!

Anyway my mind is unclear right now (philosophical day) so I might not be able to convey what I mean well but... After I took a quick look at your journal I felt that there are a number of similarities between us and it could be mutually beneficial to strike up an acquaintance so I friended you. Hopefully you would feel the same although I admit that I've just kind of been plodding around for a while and I don't feel like my journal as it is really reflects who I am... hmm... well that's a complicated matter so never mind for now.

In any case, I'm Renny, nice to meet you.

later
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I think I might come across as over-analytical, because LJ is where I do my analyzing, but I don't obsess nearly as much as it might seem.

You do not REALLY accept yourself, you do not REALLY love yourself, and you are trying to impose the ideals of others on yourself but of course they don't fit and you grow ever more distressed as your life goes on, you find temporary comfort in one cause or ideal or another, but then something shakes that up and you have to move on to something else.

I know I do not fully accept/love myself yet, but I am much closer than I used to be, and I don't think that I impose others' ideals on myself. I don't really understand what you mean about finding comfort in one cause/ideal and then moving to another? Pretty much all of my causes and ideals are the same now, if not more passionate, than they were earlier in my life. I don't think I have abandoned any, though some of them have developed and matured.

And until you can really accept and love yourself, and forget about trying to impose on yourself all the crap of other people . . . you will not find the sort of bonds with others you want.

I agree. I think that is why it has taken me until age 23 to find a true soulfriend. And I think that I have gotten to such a point of self-love that I have just hit the point of readiness, and thus just found it.
kouhaataru ══╣╠══
Wow are you really that behind on your comments that you couldn't get to that until a month and a half later? I remember saying that but I feel like so much time has passed that it's not "true" anymore. Oh by the way a fun fact is that the teachings of the Buddha and Jesus are remarkably similar. The ones about love and acceptance are almost identical in fact. I think also that the same thing happened to both of them where others glorified them after their deaths and thus ended out changing or even corrupting their initial teachings to some degree or another but that's just speculation.

Well anyway I don't think there's a problem with being overly analytical as long as it makes you happy. If you're like me and you just obsess about things until they make you unhappy however is when it's not good. Well about the "I don't really understand what you mean about finding comfort in one cause/ideal and then moving to another?" part... I honestly can't remember what my exact thoughts were since so much time has passed. However I think it's not that I felt like you abandon causes so much as I feel like... You let yourself be influenced too much by external factors. I realize now that's REALLY nitpicking. I've tried to get over that lately but unfortunately I left that comment BEFORE I started umm... not nitpicking EVERYTHING. To finish the thought out however I feel like a person is only validated when they accept themselves for their own reasons rather than the reasons of others. That might just be me though it could be worth considering.

Well anyway, I'm glad you've made those kinds of connections with people and I hope that they fulfill your ideals. I frankly don't believe in such things right now (although I do believe in strong relationships and deep connections, I just have lost my romanticism lately), so I hope that as the years play out you'll prove me wrong about that by showing me that soulfriendship does exist.

later
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
yeah, sorry about the terrible lateness. but better late than never, right?

a person is only validated when they accept themselves for their own reasons rather than the reasons of others

I agree. ;-)
sidheblessed ══╣╠══
I would love to have a soul friend. I see soulfriendship as trusting another with your very soul, letting them see into who you truly are and trusting that they'll still be aorund afterwards. I think it'd be scary and yet fulfilling.
belenen ══╣connate╠══
That's so exactly it. I hope you find someone willing and able and trustworthy. ♥ You'd be such an awesome soulfriend.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.