One Week Friends: Lessons on Friendship

one-week-friendsOne Week Friends examines the value of friendship and the work it takes to build a friendship into something deeper. This slice of life story sometimes drops into sap when some aspects are overplayed, but it provides good lessons on friendship.

Kaori Fujimiya, the ice queen, ignores everyone and eats alone. Yuki Hase thinks her cute. Driven by his impulsive nature, he follows her to the school roof and asks for her to be his friend. Kaori, shocked, tries to ignore him, but his persistence and her desire to connect ends in a budding friendship. Only Kaori has a problem. Each week she loses her memories concerning friends. Undaunted, Yuki keeps making first contact and suggests she keep a journal to help her remember.

Every Monday Yuki must make first contact and ask Kaori to be his friend. For anyone who’s tried doing a cold-call, you can understand how difficult this can be. What’s worse, as Yuki and Kaori’s friendship deepens, her lapses in memory becomes increasingly painful for Yuki . Despite the pain, he pushes ahead and works at the friendship.

The moral the story: friendship is valuable and worth working through no matter the pain involved.

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Let me turn personal a moment. I started watching One Week Friends on the same week one of my best female friend ended our friendship. I won’t delve into the reasons. Most of them I don’t entirely understand, but the timing forced me to think about the state of friendship in the US. You see, I am an introvert that struggles to make deep connections with people. Surface connections are easy, but deep ones that lead to romance. It takes me years to draw close. From my experiences, people do not have the patience and motivation to form deep, lasting friendships. Many people are fair weather friends. How many people you know would work to reestablish a friendship with someone like Kaori?

The parallel is a bit extreme, but many Americans fail to put forth the effort required to establish deep friendships. Intimacy, a heart-to-heart connection with someone, is rare. Yuki and Kaori developed intimacy because they worked at it over the course of the story. And it hurt them both to do so. Friendship, like relationships in general, have become commodities. Friends come and go. So do spouses. Somewhere we’ve developed this idea that there is always something better on the way. Someone new and shiny. Somewhere many of us have developed a view that relationships should be as easy as using a toaster. As soon as work and pain become involved we throw the toaster aside. Yuki could well have ignored Kaori and hit up some of the other girls in class. It would have been easier, but he desired an intimate friendship with Kaori so he worked for it.

The word intimacy has lost much of its true meaning. Now we read it as a substitute word for sex. Intimacy is far more than sex. Intimacy is sharing your soul with another person and accepting their soul in return. It is a deep, abiding friendship where the other person becomes as much a part of you as your own skin. Physical aspects of intimacy is only an outgrowth of trust. Trust works like money. You can invest trust or you can spend it. The problem is how trust is not easily earned back. Investing trust involves spending it in order to accrue more. Each week Kaori invests trust in her journal and Yuki. She is paid back with increasing interest. But it still took time for the interest to accrue. Intimacy is a function of time spent with another. Shortcuts do not exist.

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Looking at the photo above makes many of us moderns think “gay.” They were most likely not. What makes some of us cringe isn’t their “gayness” but the level of intimacy these men show. They were friends, buddies, comrades. You can see how close their friendship was at a glance. Art of Manliness has a great write up about male friendship. But this level of intimacy requires work. It requires understanding and a willingness to work through any difficulty to preserve it. This value is what drives Yuki and Kaori to work at their friendship.

Friendship is sometimes viewed as less than romantic relationships. What else can a romantic relationship be but one of the deepest forms of friendship? We are wrong to view romance as anything else.

One Week Friends provides a good example of what friendship should be. One of work, sacrifice, and desire to get to know each other completely. Friendship only grows with hardship. What types of friendships do you have? Do you have the type that creates a love aura like Kaori and Yuki and the photo of male friends?

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