“The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self. The ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone, and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them, and to have believed in them, and sometimes, just to have accompanied them, for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone” — David Whyte

Friendship as witnesses to eudaimonic well-being.

the type of happiness or contentment that is achieved through self-actualization and having meaningful purpose in one’s life

adrienne maree brown described relationships like a spiderweb—diaphanous yet strong, thick yet porous. “A web allows things to fall through, like a sieve,” she said. “Some things are not meant to be caught.”

Related: Tribe flourishing



It doesn’t feel right to pressure people to be “interesting” in your sense of the word. Everyone is interesting. Every person in the world has a literal lifetime of experiences that have shaped who they are. They have internal thought processes and distinct worldviews that you won’t find within anyone else. It’s a matter of giving your interactions enough time and care to discover these.


One thing I keep coming back to is open-mindedness. I’m drawn to people who don’t take themselves too seriously. People who move through life with a certain nonchalance that makes them eager for the unconventional and unusual. These people can laugh about anything and like to have fun.  …  These friends expand our boxes of possible experience. Spontaneity and unconstrained eagerness feel good because they are exercises in doing without thinking too much. Having the thought I want to do this, and then immediately being able to do the thing with people you care about silences the voice of “reason” in our heads.

Unknown unknowns

Friends shouldn’t tell you exactly how to live your life but rather to help you reflect back parts of your self that you may not be aware of.

Friends > Communities

Source: friends > communities, Sari Azout

”This is about building the picks and shovels for intimate, intentionally small groups of friends and Internet friends to build things together, live together, and create wealth together. Unlike the Discord communities you’re part of, the small groups I’m thinking of have to stay small to survive — they’re small by design. Can you really be yourself in group chats with 50+ people?”

See: tribe flourishing, cozy web

Acceptance Prophecy


“If people expect acceptance, they will behave warmly, which in turn will lead other people to accept them; if they expect rejection, they will behave coldly, which will lead to less acceptance.”

Assume that people like you. Tempted to ask a gym friend if they want to become a happy-hour friend? Assume they do. Want to reconnect with a friend you’ve fallen out of touch with? Assume they’re in. When we make this assumption, initiative feels less scary. We’re more likely to take some leaps of faith—and eventually navigate the friendship-making process, and life, with more peace, pleasure, and security.


Commit to some great loves; falling in love with something and building a structure of behaviour for when love falters. Who would they care about if nobody knew?

“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks… the work for which all other work is but preparation,” Rilke wrote to the young poet seeking his advice a century ago.

Epistemic Norms, The False Belief Requirement, and Love

By J. Spencer Atkins

Argues that the demands of romantic love requires that we sometimes become bad epistemic agents

Companionship is pleasurable and consequently valuable because it affords the opportunity to feel “seen” by another. We can only, according to Braden, view ourselves conceptually—we know things about ourselves—but we need others to view ourselves perceptually, “as concrete objects ‘out there.’” Other consciousnesses function like a mirror. Being seen in this way is recognition of personhood. The feeling of being seen is psychological visibility. Romantic love affords a “uniquely powerful” experience of visibility because lovers share a fascination with one another unlike any other relationship.

Doxastic voluntarism: we can make ourselves belief a proposition

  1. False Belief Requirement
    • Argues that romantic love sometimes poses the demand to believe falsely
    • Knowledge as justified true belief or JTB (see Knowledge Argument): believes that , is justified in believing that , and is true
    • Belief then, is not knowledge as one can hold false beliefs
    • W.K. Clifford: “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence”
    • When love poses the false belief argument, love will be opposed to epistemic norms
    • Delaney argues that lovers desire to be loved for the right reasons. That is, person wants a romantic partner to love him for properties that takes central to their self-conception
  2. Doxastic Wronging (the demand not to wrong one another)
    • True beliefs can wrong
      • Example, base rates: “For instance, suppose that the swanky DC night club, the Cosmos Club, has nearly all black employees and nearly all white club members. A person looking for an employee, where employees and club members both wear tuxedoes, would be epistemically rational to believe that some particular black person is an employee, given the base rate at the Cosmos Club”
    • Three conditions of doxastic wronging
      1. Directed Condition: belief wrongs a particular person, not just wrong in general
      2. Belief Itself Condition: holding the belief is what wrongs (not how the belief was formed or the actions that follow from the belief)
      3. Content Condition: content of the belief wrongs
    • Lovers stand in a privileged position — they know things not usually shared with other people. This position makes them especially vulnerable to doxastic wronging

On failures


If I had to distill the problems in failed relationships down to one idea, it would be our colossal failure to make the invisible visible, our failure to invest time and effort into developing awareness of what we otherwise might not notice in the busyness of daily life.

Third Things

Little Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beautiful insistence that “love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction”

This concept of a ‘third thing’ comes from a poem written by Donald Hall after the passing of his wife Jane Kenyon who as also a poet: “We did not spend our days gazing into each other’s eyes. We did that gazing when we made love or when one of us was in trouble, but most of the time our gazes met and entwined as they looked at a third thing. Third things are essential to marriages, objects or practices or habits or arts or institutions or games or human beings that provide a site of joint rapture or contentment. Each member of a couple is separate; the two come together in double attention.”

John mentions how he thinks that third things are essential not only to marriages but also to lots of other relationships too and I agree. Third things are points of “joint rapture”

It doesn’t so much matter what the thing is, only that it is.


Against ‘assessing’ love

Nussbaum on how over-reliance on intellect for clarity about love produces instead a kind of myopia:

Intellect’s account of psychology lacks all sense of proportion and depth and importance… [Such a] cost-benefit analysis of the heart — the only comparative assessment of which intellect, by itself, is capable — is bound, Proust suggests, to miss differences of depth. Not only to miss them, but to impede their recognition. Cost-benefit analysis is a way of comforting oneself, of putting oneself in control by pretending that all losses can be made up by sufficient quantities of something else. This stratagem opposes the recognition of love — and, indeed, love itself.

See also:

Self-effacing ends

An end that cannot be achieved through direct pursuit, but only through pursuit of some other end. For example, meditation and achieving an empty mind, loving another, etc.

Paradox of hedonism: one cannot achieve pleasure by pursuing it directly, but only by devoting oneself to some other end (Sidgwick, 1907)

Link to original

Social Energy


  • We are constantly interpreting ourselves for others.
  • The more foreign the person, the more interpretation they require, and the more narrow the affordances we can take with them.
  • I think this also can explain how larger groups often are more draining. We have to do a lot more cognitive work to hold several models of the world in our head. Large groups of foreign people tend to be the most exhausting.
  • I like to think about energy expended interpreting other people as “shapes I have to hold my being in”. The further the shape from my normal patterns of movement, the more energy I have to expend