Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Friendships and Opportunities to Meet People

The term "friends" in the U. S. does not ordinarily mean great intimacy of relationship. When we speak of our circle of friends we do not necessarily imply that our "closest friend" is in that circle. We ordinarily mean that most of our visiting and our social engagements take place in that group. In some contexts and in some situations, there may be no real "group" of friends.

We may have several friends, for example, people with whom we have dinner or lunch somewhat frequently, with whom we gossip and exchange personal opinions; but these people in turn may, because of geographical location or time schedules, have only little to do with one another. This situation is more likely to occur in a metropolitan setting than in small cities or towns. Nevertheless we have to keep in mind the shifting meaning of the term "friends." Here it does not suggest great intimacy of relationship.

On the other hand, if one says that one is without friends, this statement has a much more definite meaning. It ordinarily suggests that the individual has no group of acquaintances with which he has much social intercourse.

Changing one's friends is not necessarily the result of being rejected by them, or even of having decided to reject them and to select a new group of friends. The change may come about merely because a change of residence makes it difficult to continue seeing them.

We would expect friends to be of more day-to-day utility in finding new acquaintances and in meeting eligible suitors, if only for the reason that the divorcee is in day-to-day social interaction with her friends. We should not, however, reason too easily from these facts to the picture of the urban environment as being a rootless one in which the elder generation disappears. Actually there is a close association between (a) the family helping the respondent to meet eligibles, and (b) friends helping the respondent to meet eligibles.

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