Are family members friends?
The easy answer to this is “family are family and friends are friends” – which is absolutely simplistic, avoidant and stupid. I’m using the word ‘friends’ here pretty loosely. Of course, I only recognised degrees of friendships. Nobody is my friend (and I’m not explaining that again).
The common overarching concept is ‘relationships’. There are some relationships we choose – these can be so-called friends, or life partner etc. But family we have no choice about. Even family who are in-laws we don’t really choose. In-laws happen because of the facts of marriage. You can’t marry someone and then deny that their mother is not your mother-in-law. Well, you could but that would by grossly irrational.
The diagram below summarises the situation.
The point is, that family members often share a number of overlapping features with friends or friendships. You can deselect friends but biological family remain as a fact of life. In-laws may change.
But what about the family members where a number of factors common to friendship, were missing? Obviously, one would not be close to that family member – and the same would apply to so-called friends. What if one loses faith in a family member on the factors common to friendships? The way you work that, is to to say, “Well, it depends – innit?” Of course, it depends. Everything depends. It obviously depends on the nature and degree of loss of each of the common factors. Calm down! I’m not here to tell people what to do in their personal lives. Get a grip Stupid (hyperlink in case some did not notice).
As with friendships one has the choice to disassociate entirely or partially from family – but doing so does not change the fact that they remain family (in-laws excluded here for obvious reasons).
What happens when friendships become broken? I shan’t go into the obvious range of things that can be done to mend them. Look, this is not elementary school and I’m not teaching! Lets talk about a so-called friend who did a range of things that really lead to a conclusion that it was unworkable, and no attempt to repair was possible. Naturally, the disassociation would be pretty significant or in the worse case scenario the friendship is ended completely.
The prevailing cultures of thought instruct us that ‘you can’t sack your family‘. That entrenched assumption is based on biological bonds that are undeniable. I haven’t denied any of that. There is no law or moral imperative that says, ‘Thou shall always be friendly with family forever no matter what!‘
Family relationships are actually special forms of friendship (in-laws not very relevant here). Most people would maintain a friendly relationship with an abjectly racist or criminal family member, longer than they would with a non-biological friend. The different threshold is influenced by instinctual biological issues, which I am not ‘unpacking’.
- There are some natural differences between relationships with family, compared to relationships with friends.
- There are overlapping factors that maintain relationships with family and friends.
- Family relationships are seen by most people as more protected (for reasons given above).
- Whilst severing relationships or distancing oneself from family is more difficult, it is still possible.
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