I recently overheard someone remark that they “had gone years without even one real friend”, and that they felt “severely lonely”. She then went on to say that she “deserved friends”.
Her remarks left me with several thoughts. In the first place, you wish you could do something about someone’s “severe loneliness”. That is, it seems safe to say we’ve all been there at one or another point in our lives, and most of us probably have some empathy for people who feel lonely.
But beyond that, I was struck by her notion that she “deserved” friends. Did she mean that friends were her just due in life? That she could earn friends the way we, say, earn money?
If that’s what she meant, then I find myself in disagreement with her.
It simply does not seem possible to me to deserve someone’s friendship. Instead, it seems to me friendship is a gift that people sometimes give to us. But it is not that we can demand of it others because we deserve it. “I have done x and y for you — therefore you must be my friend.” That just doesn’t sit well with me.
But what do you think? Can we deserve friends? Can we earn them by way of what we do for them, or by means of what kind of person we are?