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The Limits of Friendship

friendsLucinda Rosenfeld, advice columist for Slate spin-off DoubleX, tells a girl whining because her friends ditched her after she’d been slipped a date rape drug at a party and then refused to come see her at the hospital to get over herself.

Yes, overnights at the E.R. are the opposite of fun. So are disastrous drug trips. (I had one in my twenties, which pretty much sealed my fate as an illegal-substance ninny.) But only nuns make it out of youth without a few ambulance rides.

Here’s a little secret. BFFs are great when you’re upset about a boy/sick cat/whatnot. But there are limits to friendship—limits that don’t apply to our romantic partners or close family members.

After getting some angry emails, she adds:

I know many of us assume we would jump out of bed after that call. But how many of you would actually, honestly get out of bed and get dressed at 4 a.m. and drive to the hospital to keep your close friend company while she recovered?

Julian Sanchez, apparently not realizing this was a rhetorical question, responds:

Everyone.  No, really.  Everyone I know. I could pick a number at random from the last dozen dialed on my cell phone and I have no doubt the person would show up if it were me. They might not be cheerful about it—I might not either—but they’d do it. But I tend to favor friends who are, you know, human.

He’s equally dubious as to the original post:

Friendship?  Jesus, that’s the minimum I’d do for someone I barely knew in a situation like that. Hell, it’s the minimum I’d do for someone who’d taken some drugs on purpose in an attack of poor judgment. It’s what any remotely decent, adequately socialized person would do.

You’d think.

My grad school buddy Wayne, a retired Green Beret, says that men make what he terms Bozeman, Montana friends.  We may move across the country and fail to keep in touch but, if we were to get a phone call in the middle of the night from one of them after not hearing from them for three years saying, “I’m in jail in Bozeman, Montana and need you to wire me $2000,” our only question would be about how to get him the funds and we’d be on the phone to Western Union two minutes later. Women, by contrast, tend to make more intimate connections and to be more likely to hold grudges over things like not having heard from somebody in three years.

I think that’s right in the aggregate. But, surely, most women would come to the aid of gal pals who have been drugged and taken to the hospital.  No?

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    The “Bozeman Montana Friend” thing sounds right. My wife cannot in her life understand why I recently went to meet with a college buddy whom I have not seen in over 25 years. To me, it was the right thing to do since we reconnected. She, on the other hand, makes no attempt to even get together with supposed “close” friends when given the opportunity.

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  2. Steve Verdon says:

    Was the woman in question also raped? If one of my friends called from the hospital and needed something, I’d be out of bed and getting dressed before I hung up. Its what friends do. As for the “friendship columnist” all I can say is she’s a cupid stunt.

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  3. Mithras says:

    Agree with Sanchez. Almost no one would abandon someone in that situation. More likely it’s a hoax or that things didn’t go down exactly the way the letter-writer says.

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  4. J.W. Hamner says:

    What I find most shocking is the columnist’s claim that it never occurred to her that the writer could have been the victim of sexual assault. Really? She was slipped a roofie, woke up in a gutter, sobbing and phoning for help… and sexual assault wasn’t the very first thought?

    I can’t even conceive of “friends” that would receive said sobbing phone call and not rush to her aid. Terrible.

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  5. Steve Verdon says:

    Agree with Sanchez. Almost no one would abandon someone in that situation. More likely it’s a hoax or that things didn’t go down exactly the way the letter-writer says.

    It still doesn’t explain the complete humanity fail on the part of the columnist. Maybe the friends thought she was faking it, or some such IDK, but if the columnist thought that then don’t respond to the initial query for advice or respond that you think it is fake. Don’t respond saying, “Well expecting friends to be…you know friends, well that is a bit much.”

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  6. Physics Geek says:

    Check the DNA…

    Julian Sanchez links to what you’d assume is an April 1 gag column. You’d be wrong, however. In short: a girl gets slipped a date rape drug, comes to in the gutter and calls her “friend” from the hospital. Apparently……

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  7. [...] * I would not be surprised to learn that Double X’s friendship columnist does not actually have any friends. [...]

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  8. Triumph says:

    My grad school buddy Wayne, a retired Green Beret, says that men make what he terms Bozeman, Montana friends.

    Is Bozeman any where near Brokeback Mountain? If so, I see your point.

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  9. With friends like these…

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  10. Mithras says:

    It still doesn’t explain the complete humanity fail on the part of the columnist.

    I meant, a hoax on the part of the columnist with the intention of displaying cruelty in order to drive traffic.

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  11. Mithras says:

    Adding: Even if the letter is genuine, the columnist is playing this for controversy. Seems to have worked.

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  12. James H says:

    I wouldn’t wire $2k, but only because I don’t have $2k to wire.

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  13. I think Wayne is right, but I am still hoping that you don’t call me from prison from Bozeman, MT (or, really, anywhere else).

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  14. [...] James Joyner: My grad school buddy Wayne, a retired Green Beret, says that men make what he terms Bozeman, Montana friends.  We may move across the country and fail to keep in touch but, if we were to get a phone call in the middle of the night from one of them after not hearing from them for three years saying, “I’m in jail in Bozeman, Montana and need you to wire me $2000,” our only question would be about how to get him the funds and we’d be on the phone to Western Union two minutes later. Women, by contrast, tend to make more intimate connections and to be more likely to held grudges over things like not having heard from somebody in three years. [...]

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  15. E.D. Kain says:

    That’s funny. I was born in Bozeman, Montana. Never been in the jail, though.

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  16. dutchmarbel says:

    I’m with Sanchez. I would expect anybody in my contactlist to come, male or female, and would do the same for everybody I know. It has to do with being a decent person imho, not with wether you’re BFF or not.

    I’m not sure about the wiring 2000 dollar though, but I’d definately pick them up from the ER too if needs be.

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  17. Eric Florack says:

    This one struck a chord with me. I can’t get into the particulars, but I recently ended up coming to the aid of someone I dated in high school, who had a *very* rough go of it for a while.

    I’m not singing my own praises here, by any means… but I felt driven by humanity of nothing else, to come to her aid. It never ceases to amaze me, the inhumanity of “friends”.

    Then again, I wonder a moment at the involvement of government. Now, before you go tearing off into the weeds, holler about how ‘there he goes again”… hear me out.

    Consider the trends, here… more calls for more government run ‘crisis care’ and more governmental based ‘charity’, from people who also trend to not visit even people they call friends in the hospital. Can it be, I wonder that the trend toward less personal responsibility and less personal involvement, are tied together? HAve we lost some of our humanity by way of government?

    I think so.

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  18. [...] Yesterday, via Julian Sanchez, I came across their insipid advice column saying it pushed the “limits of friendship” to expect one’s friends to not leave you for dead after you’d been administered a date [...]

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  19. Cali says:

    OMG! Eric Florack, could you possibly blame the victim any more that what you just wrote? It is not the victim’s fault “somebody” drugged her! It is the fault of the person who chose to slip her a roofie, or whatever. It was not her perfectly normal behavior of drinking her drink, we all drink something several times each day, it was the fault of the person who drugged her!

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