Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Vicious Friendships
One of my favorite quotes by Richard Stengel is “A common enemy does not a true friendship make.” A simple statement but it speaks volumes about a phenomenon that I always think of as ‘vicious friendships.’True friendships are formed by common interests and traits, pulling two or more people together in a positive way that allows for the growth of those involved. Vicious friendships born out of having a common enemy don’t have the depth of a true friendship, instead it relies on negativity and even a certain degree of paranoia for fuel.There are legitimate times when people will come together in regards to a common enemy but what is formed is more of an alliance rather than a bona fide friendship. Once the enemy or threat has been diminished, the parties go their separate ways but occasionally the vicious friendship can last for years or even a lifetime if fueled by enough hatred and/or contempt for the enemy they consider themselves to have in common.Like everyone else, the first time I witnessed these kinds of friendships was on the playground. Usually the common enemy was the school yard bully and feeling a certain safety in numbers, friendships would be formed from that. They were short in duration, maybe throughout the one recess or perhaps a week of recesses, or at least until the bully found another victim to terrorize but most of them never developed into a true friendship.Now as an adult, I still occasionally see these kinds of friendships and left to wonder why someone would sink so much time and negative emotional energy into them. The friendships aren’t based on personal growth or common ground. Most of the time the people involved, don’t actually ‘like’ the other person but they have this compulsion to come together against a third person.The more amazing aspect of vicious friendships is that more often than not, the ‘common enemy’ is usually unaware or unfazed by the negative emotional energy generated in their honor.


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