Friendship: The Forgotten Relationship

by Andrew Sullivan

Basically a oral summary of his essay “If Love Were All.”

As fascinating as it is flawed, I think. I still struggle with his seemingly paradoxical suggestion that what he depicts as deeply dichotomous and distinct loves (eros and philia)  can yet coexist in the same person. He seems to go back and forth between referring to the loves as embodied in distinct relationships (e.g. a friend is one person and a lover is another) to referring to them as discernable loves that often mingle in one person ( e.g. they are my friend and my lover).


At one point he says, “The last thing you want to do with your friend is to have some sort of erotic or sexual thing with them,” but this seems to contradict his earlier statement that marriage (largely motivated by romantic love) eventually evolves in such a way that incorporates friendship. If that friend is also your spouse, don’t you indeed want to have “some sort of erotic or sexual thing with them”? At an intuitive level, I believe I understand what he means, but I wish he would be more clear with his distinctions, in what capacity they function and when. There is this lingering question, “Can one person be both fully friend and fully lover?” It is a question that has great implications for the way we shape family and community. And it is a question, I think, Sullivan does not answer—at least not in a clear way that is consistent with everything else he says.

Still, though, a great mind with a passion for a topic that needs to be explored.

If you manage to watch the whole thing, or if you have read the essay, please share your thoughts.