May 2017
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soulfriendship definition -- refined (like precious metal)
Many people understand the concept of 'best friend' as the person who is closer to you than anyone else, or the person whom you love more than anyone else. I have a concept of 'best friends' that I call soulfriendship. It goes a step beyond most 'best friends' relationships in that it is a conscious commitment with specific qualities, and it is not restricted to only one person. It does take a LOT of energy and I can't imagine having very many of them, but I have had two at once so I know it is possible.

Recently one of my soulfriendships ended -- not in the usual way of intimate relationships (fighting and fury), but by recognising that we were not in the right place in our lives to continue such a deep relationship. I think it is a testament to the beauty of soulfriendship that it can end gracefully, without severing the connection. I am still recovering from the loss, but I learned so incredibly much through the experience. I have refined the old definition to this:

  • Love & Affection.
    To me, these are different aspects that go hand in hand. Love is the recognition that the other person has incalculable worth, which can never change -- it is seeing the sacred self in someone, and feeling the bond that connects us all. Affection is a positive feeling that the other person creates in you (and vice versa) by doing/saying positive things for/to you. Love starts the relationship; affection fuels it. (my in-depth post on the topic)
  • Commitment.
    I used to call this aspect 'permanence' but have since realized it is more complex than that. I believe that two healthy people can overcome any obstacle -- but sometimes we are wounded by things we cannot control, and all of our best efforts are not enough. So this aspect I now call 'commitment' -- meaning that both people will do their absolute best to overcome obstacles that keep them from maintaining the soulfriendship. Sometimes one or both will not be able to do enough, but they will try with every resource they have until they can do no more. Also included in this is willingness to forgive; in an intimate relationship you will be hurt, and for commitment to have meaning it has to survive that hurt through forgiveness.
  • Trust.
    I define trust as willing to take the risk of hurting or being hurt. It's a faith that the relationship will survive failings on the part of either person. It's the other half of commitment: the belief that not only are YOU committed, but the other person is also; not only will YOU forgive, but the other person will also.
  • Honesty.
    I define honesty as a refusal to deceive. Honesty is answering any question with the truth (the whole truth, and nothing but the truth), without trying to hide anything. You don't have to phrase things rudely to tell the truth, but even with the gentlest phrasing, the truth may offend or hurt. Still, I believe that the kind of hurt the truth may bring is like the sting of disinfectant on a wound -- it hurts but does not damage, and is ultimately healing.
  • Openness.
    Openness is the other half of honesty; it is the willingness to share truth. To be open is to offer yourself, to place your truth into the hands of those willing to receive instead of waiting for them to ask. We are such complex creatures that no one could ever learn us fully by asking questions -- we have to share of our own volition.
  • Inclusion. (communication and decision-making)
    There's no set time on how much or how often you communicate, but it needs to be frequent enough that both people have a good understanding of what is going on in the other person's life. On the important decisions in your life, include the other person -- they know you so well and care so much that their advice is very valuable. Consider how your decisions affect them; in an intimate relationship, what helps them helps you and vice versa.
  • Desire to Grow.
    This is absolutely necessary in a soulfriendship, though non-committed friendships can do fine without it. In a soulfriendship you are constantly balancing yourself against the other, constantly giving and receiving -- in constant flux. If you do not change, you will end up out of step with the other person, a gap that will only increase with time. If you backtrack you will end out of step even faster -- so the only way to stay connected is for both people to be growing, or changing positively. There are many ways to do this; counseling (I firmly believe that every single person in this broken world needs at least some mentor-type guidance), self-education, art, giving help to others, spiritual exploration... the important thing is that this aspect is never-ceasing. Sometimes you will only have energy for a small amount of growth, and sometimes the best way to grow is through a period of deliberate hibernation (with a limited time span), but it must be a conscious goal for soulfriendship to flourish.
  • Unselfishness.
    I define this as the willingness to sacrifice your time, energy, and other resources in order to help the other person. Going out of your way, doing unpleasant or difficult things for the sake of the other person. It should be balanced between your resources and the other person's need; draining yourself can harm you and the relationship, but every once in a long while, it is necessary to pour yourself out for the other person. Then at another time ze will do the same for you.


myself and my former soulfriend Hannah;
I feel this illustrates soulfriendship perfectly.


LJ idol topic 7: "My Best Friend" ((going with this one! will add voting link thursday))


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Comments
As I've mentioned before, I absolutely believe that what you call 'permanence' is possible, if two people put their minds to it. (And assuming the world isn't filled with war or anything crazy.) Personally, I think people are too willing to give up on other people. If it's not perfect, bye. If there were fewer humans around, people wouldn't be so flighty.

Do you not find that honesty can often conflict with caring for someone? Even if you are tactfully honest, you will end up hurting people. And if you care about two people deeply, there will be moments when you have to choose who to be more honest to, or less honest to - like if they confide something about the other in you. How do you personally deal with that when it comes to 'soul friendships' (which I call something more like socratic love).

belenen analytical
I agree that people are often of the "dump it and get a new one" persuasion, and that we as a group should try to fix things more often. I do think it is always possible to have a permanent relationship, but it is not always possible to maintain a soulfriendship.

Honesty never conflicts with my care for someone. Ever. I only have intimate relationships with people who prefer honesty to 'kind' lies. And the kind of hurt the truth may bring is like the sting of disinfectant on a wound -- it hurts, but not in a serious way, and is ultimately healing. Lies hurt in an insidious, creeping way. I can't stand them. And I cannot trust someone with my heart unless I trust them to tell me the truth.

But honesty doesn't mean telling everything! It is not a lie to say "I can't tell you about that because I promised so-n-so." Keeping a confidence is important to me -- I will tell my own truth, but other people's truth is their own to share.

And thank you very much for the comment! I went back and tweaked a bit because responding to you helped me to clarify my 'honesty' section. ;-)
bornbeautiful A. Keys - Afro Puff
i like this concept of soul friendship. i've never heard someone describe anything like it before.

i think you should do a more reminiscent style post for lj idol. something that includes these points in a more story telling type of way.

i enjoy the way you write and i think you could put it together in a way that tells a story, while explaining your points.
belenen analytical
Thanks so much for the comment! I liked your idea but decided to go with the bare-bones approach. ;-)
smurfb1ue we want only love & compassion
I've always loved your definition of soulfriendship. While I don't necessarily think that things need to be connected to a definition, I think that many people don't really consider what is important to them in a relationsip before they get themselves into one when it's too late to "get out" unscathed. Friendship, to me, should always be purposeful.
belenen garrulous
I totally agree that friendship should always be purposeful!

And I don't think that things need a definition in order to have love, but I think that committed relationships do need definition so that both people are on the same page. You can do it without the definition, of course, but then you need very strong intuition -- you both have to be perfectly synced up for that to work. If you're out of sync in mind (definition) or heart (intuition), misunderstandings and other division comes in.
No, I don't think you should write a different entry! This is great, and definitely gets my vote!

As in a comment to your sexual ethics entry, I fully understand and appreciate the importance of having a soulfriend.
belenen loving
thanks so much for your comment and vote! ;-)
I think you define all of these things very well. I agre with everything, but especially "honesty".

Many people just speak the words without ever stopping to think what they mean. In my opinion you can't go about proclaiming values you haven't even defined for yourself. For example, so many people say that they value honesty, but it shines through that they've never thought what kind of things honesty concernes and what kind of actions/sacrifices demands of them.
belenen analytical
In my opinion you can't go about proclaiming values you haven't even defined for yourself. For example, so many people say that they value honesty, but it shines through that they've never thought what kind of things honesty concernes and what kind of actions/sacrifices demands of them.

I SO agree! You stated that very well.
I think you already know I agree with you entirely on your definiton of soulfriendship and I think this edit just adds richness to it. Also demonstrates that desire to grow. ;)
belenen blossoming
thank you! I feel it adds richness too. ;-)
in an intimate relationship you will be hurt

So glad you wrote this. So many people expect deep relationships, the very best ones, to be painless and trouble-free, even when that is certainly not the case. A lot of time it takes pain to even *forge* a deep bond with somebody, the kind of pain that can come from deep reflection, re-clarification, and renewal.

I suppose it's because I view pain and destruction and hurt as necessary and vital to any rebirthing process, not always as pointless or without merit. We value painless things more because they don't hurt; but sometimes, hurting draws us closer to others, forces us to refine ourselves, and helps lay the foundation for a deeper relationship.



This whole definition is perfect to me. You make me want to borrow it.
I agree, pain in relationships is necessary, but not in a bad way. Resolving pain is what truly makes us closer. And that is where the "commitment" aspect comes in, in my mind. The motivation for sticking through the good and the bad being, a closer and more permanent bond.
belenen blossoming
I've gotten to the point in my life where I don't value something unless it has pain or joy attached, and the really beautiful things have both. Because I see pain as necessary for growth. And I don't want any friendships that don't bring me growth (and therefore pain). I no longer value painless things because they don't hurt -- I value them less because they don't bring me growth.

Unless! they have true joy instead, which brings another kind of growth. However, happiness/entertainment/pleasure is not joy. Joy is something that really goes beyond that -- it's a tangible form of love.

and that's not to say that I value all pain. I do not value destructive pain, only pain that is used for growth. For instance, pain is caused by someone verbally beating you and someone saying that you have an issue you need to deal with, but the first kind of pain is destructive and the second is constructive. The second I value as much as joy, the first I seek to eradicate from my life and to help others eradicate also.

as usual, your comment gave me all these new and newly clarified thoughts! Thank you lovey ;-) ♥ Oh, and feel free to borrow it :D
Hey, sorry I'm a random... you're on my friend's flist and she linked me to your post probably because of some friendship trouble I've been having lately. I can definitely see why she did, anyway. Reading this was helpful in a lot of ways, I suppose, though I sort of wish I could get my (former?) friend to take this kind of information without being offended or... I'm not even sure. Is it irrational that even though she told me to get out of her life until I was emotionally stable enough for her liking that I still just want her back? Part of me wants to just bend to whatever she wants for that, but part of me also wishes she'd be more willing to listen when people want to iron out kinks in the relationship. Gah, I'm rambling, sorry; wound's still fresh. Anyway, thanks so much for having this publicly posted. It's given me something to chew for a while.
belenen console
ack, sorry about the wound being still fresh. I hope you can find a balm for those wounds -- I know how they sting!

I'm glad this was helpful ♥
I LOVE that photo.
belenen writing
thanks!
That photo is gorgeous... so beautiful and serene...

Your post is gorgeous as well... thanks!
belenen soulfriendship
thank you! That series still blows my mind.

thank you for reading and commenting!
I love the photo and the entry in its entirety.

Even if you choose to write something else (though you do not need to), I am so glad to have been able to read this post.
belenen woven souls
thank you so much! I'm glad you got something positive from it ♥
that is an awesome picture.
belenen woven souls
thanks!
For reasons that are far too negative to go into right now, I really envy you this view of friendship. I also envy you the actual attainment of it too. Not envy in a bad way. Just that wishful sort of way. Stand out entry, kiddo.
belenen honesty
oh, I know that feeling. ♥ Thanks for the comment!
You gave me a lot of think about and more to ponder later.

That is a beautiful picture too.
belenen writing
yay! new thoughts are wonderful things.

and thank you!
Hi, I noticed you added me to your friend's list. I'll most likely add you back, but I just wanted to know why :).
belenen confused
but... I haven't added you? Is this a secondary journal you are commenting with or something?
that's really cool. And how wonderful that you have had the opportunity to sort these things out!
belenen writing
thank you!
I love the image of you two, as well as your definition of soulfriendship. I wish more people took their friendships so seriously.
belenen woven souls
thank you, I love that whole series. ♥ I do too!
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.