Friendship is unarguably the common phenomenon human beings have known. Friendship is a relationship that has existed across historical times in all types of societies. My concern is about the differences in the concept of friendship in different cultures. I would like to compare and contrast the concept of friendship in Eastern and Western nations. Ways of interacting with friends and values regarding friendship are different in Eastern and Western cultures.
For Easterners, a friend is someone whose company one enjoys. Moreover, there are certain duties and rights of friends. Eastern people are morally, emotionally close with their friends and expect the same from them. As for Westerners, a friend is simply one whose company one enjoys and nothing more. There is no bondage, no obligation to help friends and no rights and duties.
Easterners expect reciprocity from their friends. For example, they want to help their friends and in return want to be helped. What is more interesting about their friendship is that they trust and keep much faith in verbal promises. They don’t care about action. If any friend needs help he asks his friend to help him for his sake. In the West, reciprocity has no significance in their friendship. They believe in action rather than promises. That’s why they directly declare their intension as ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
While introducing each other, Easterners provide lots of information about themselves. They share information about their families, social connections and other things. In the West, they provide less information about themselves. In the East, people visit their friends at least twice or thrice a week and while doing so they don’t seek appointments. If two friends don’t meet for a week or so, the conclusion is drawn that they are no more good friends or one of them is sick. But in the West, people don’t have the habit of visiting their friends so often. When they want to meet, they ask for permission or give prior information regarding their arrival. Otherwise, they respect each other’s privacy.
Germans typically have very few friends, although friendships that do develop typically last a lifetime, as loyalty is held in high regard. Likewise, Americans use the term “friend” very freely; referring to someone they have known for a few weeks as a friend. In Central Asia, male friendships tend to be reserved and respectful in nature. They may use nicknames and diminutive forms of their first names.
Hence visiting patterns also determine cultural values. The above mentioned differences become obstacles in cross cultural interaction between Easterners and Westerners.