Thursday, June 28, 2007

One Smart Mama's Ladder of Friendship

The great philosopher, Maimonides (sometimes also known as Rambam), sussed out a ladder of giving. It looks something like this:
  • Lowest Level: after being asked, you give begrudgingly and not enough, making the other person feel like crap.
  • Level Two: after being asked, you give less than you should but you do so kindly.
  • Level Three: after being asked, you give as much as you can.
  • Level Four: you give before being asked, but embarrass the person receiving the gift by making a big fucking deal about it.
  • Level Five: the giver doesn't know the receiver, though the receiver knows the giver.
  • Level Six: the receiver doesn't know the giver, though the giver knows the receiver.
  • Level Seven: neither the giver nor the receiver know each other.
  • Highest Level: prevent the need for people to need to ask for help in the future. Teach them how to be self-sufficient in order to build self-esteem.
The same idea can be put into play when speaking about our responsibilities in a friendship with one exception. No one is a mind-reader. Therefore, the whole concept of "before being asked" sort of goes out the window. Instead, stating your needs is a requirement. The sign of a good friend is one who either mentally retains your needs or asks what you need the next time you have a problem. So without further ado, the One Smart Mama's Ladder of Friendship:
  • Lowest Level: you tell the person many times what you need and she sort of nods at you to appease you and then obviously doesn't pay attention to anything you say and makes the whole conversation about her.
  • Level Two: you tell the person many times what you need and she asks you a few questions to show that she's listening, but then goes off on a long tangent about herself before addressing your needs again.
  • Level Three: though you need to remind her every time you have a problem, she's always able to jump right into being a good listener with a little nudge.
  • Level Four: she is there for you, but she always needs to point out everything she's doing in order to be there for you. These are the kinds of people who make you a meal when you're sick, but as they deliver it, they tell you about what a hardship it was to make you the freakin' lasagna.
  • Level Five: the friend knows everything about your problems and then acts.
  • Level Six: the friend knows only a small corner of your problems, but jumps into action and starts helping immediately--showing up at your doorstep with a comedy and a pint of ice cream before you've gotten to the part in the phone conversation where you start the snifflely, gaspy breaths.
  • Level Seven: without needing to say a word, she senses that something is wrong and asks the right questions to get you to open up and talk.
  • Level Eight: by being a good friend, she teaches you how to be a good friend--both to her and to others.
Both friends need to simultaneously be climbing the ladder at the same time, with a give-and-take to accommodate both their needs.


niobe said...

Oddly enough, both Rambam and One Smart Mama seem to have overlooked the rung of the ladder occupied by my friends:

You tell the person what you need and she says that you're a selfish jerk for even asking and starts screaming that you're always just trying to make her feel bad about herself by complaining that she's not giving you what you need.

Bea said...

This list throws some of my friendships into pretty stark relief. Also, I can't believe I just wrote a whole four-part series when I could have condensed it into eight points. Need to work on brevity.


BestLight said...

I've added this to my "Must Read Posts" widget.

Which rung do my friends occupy?

Which rung do I?

I realize I'm pretty blessed with friends in high places.

wanttobeamom said...

It's kind of painful when you have a friend who is on a lower rung than you need/want/hoped for. Sometimes it takes me a while to realize that we are on very different rungs. Once I do realize I can adjust my expecations, which helps some, but it is still painful.

Good post. Very thought provoking.