Best friends. Click for credits and larger image

According to Country Philosopher friendship (no 4 in his list) is an important factor in the pursuit of happiness.

“True friendship is the most solid, the highest, the most disinterested, passionate and honest feeling that can link two persons. It implies sympathy of feelings, conviction to have found a twin soul, it is the most durable way of loving and being loved, … it is a fundamental component of happiness and, according to Epicure, the most precious good.”

“On the other hand – Bernazza adds – we cannot call authentic friends mere acquaintances ruled by feelings which are occasional, superficial, opportunistic, basically selfish. In this type of relationships liabilities are greater than assets and the final result is sorrow, most of the time.”

(his judgement on acquaintances is a bit extreme since many acquaintances in my opinion don’t necessarily end up with sorrow)

How can we attain true friendship?

“It is a construction to be built little by little, day by day, with patience and perseverance, with affection and intelligence, considering it is an achievement among the most complex, long, delicate that heart and mind together can accomplish.”

Friendship impacts on 3 points of CP’s list. Which list? A list regarding 20 major existential issues which, according to Dario Bernazza, we should address in the best possible way in order to diminish life liabilities and live a happy life. Friendship in fact regards points 4 (friendship), 5 (marriage) and 6 (children).

True friendship –  Bernazza states – is the only factor that produces a good marriage or union between two partners.

True friendship is the only key to success in the relationship between parents and children, allowing mutual respect and the mutual fulfilment of rights and duties.

Bernazza’s idea of friendship is surely dated and it includes a wider range of affectionate relationships than the modern friendship concept does, being not far from Montaigne’s amitié, connected to the Latin amicitia and the Greek philìa.

On the other hand, romantic love to him is important only to a certain extent. Life to CP should be a careful construction.  So I wonder if he would be for arranged marriages. Well, yes and no, since to him each person must be the real planner of his/her life.

Reva Seth's book on arranged marriage wisdom

[By the way, the Western romantic approach to marriage is just one possibility: arranged marriages thrived for thousands of years and are today still common in many parts of the world. Discussions on this theme by Indians can be read at Nita’s blog: 1 and 2]


Bernazza is an interesting example of cultural isolation. His thought is organic like the wine one finds directly at the farm, surely inferior to the big wines, but with a genuineness and that special patina which smells of the past.

But I’m asking myself: 1) is friendship really so important in the relationship with a partner and in parenting? 2) should living our entire life with a partner be the fruit of a thoughtful decision and a careful construction (when looking for “the one” why don’t we ask mamma, someone wrote) or should all be decided by attraction and romantic passion only?

41 thoughts on “From Friendship to Asking Mamma when Looking for “Mr Right”

  1. The truth I think lies somewhere inbetween. With friendship no one really tries to cultivate it. It just happens between two people whose hearts are open and giving. This is far better than romantic love as a foundation of a life long partnership. However without love and romance a marriage is a cold lifeless thing. It can strike one at any time and if it strikes two friends, they are lucky indeed.


    1. I agree with you Nita about this in-between thing. A life-long union needs a careful start, good management along the way, but love and attraction should somehow enter the equation.


  2. When marriages were arranged, parents usually knew the family of the intended and consider the personalities of the two as well as the advantages to the two families. Daughters were more trusting of their parent’s (specifically the father) opinions and were also taught to be subservient and obedient. The idea of objecting and finding one’s own mate was most unusal – girls were not out in places where they would meet men anyway for the most part. Lust is a wonderful concept but lust alone will not make a marriage survive – and even folks in love will admit that lust ebbs and flows over that fifty plus years marriage. Being committed to one another in a relationship that emobodies both lust, love, and respect along with friendship is a more likely route to marital happiness and success.
    Bonnie(valentinoswife — happily for 32plus years)


    1. Welcome here Valentinoswife.
      I think you have well described the evolution of it all here in the West. I agree that attraction, love, and respect along with friendship are giving us the best chances of union survival. Marriage is a long and hard journey. Our future (and our children’s) cannot be decided on the base of romance and desire only. My mother’s grandfather used to say: get married only if you are VERY virtuous (solo se hai virtù al massimo grado). People who get married are usually inexperienced. The West shouldn’t reject the wisdom of other cultures, at least in the sense of self-arranging and planning things a bit and listening to what elders who love us think about our choices.


  3. 43 years ago after making sure that Thérèse was willing to marry me I went to her parents, she was 29 and I was 34, to ask her hand. Her father looked at me and said:”You respect traditions. I give her hand…but I’m sure you two would get married even if I refused you her hand”. And he was absolutely right. Of course we prefered it to be that way but it would have gone on anyway.


    1. You two preferred it to be that way because you just liked the parent to be happy (which gave you peace etc.) or also because his judgement was a confirmation of your (her) choice?


      1. Because we wished the parents to be happy and less weary of her their daughters marrying ouside of her “race” (in Québec, race=ethnic origins) with a Greek. Her other Daughter did even worse, she married an Anglo and an Anglican, to make things worse. My mother-in-law was the worst objector but she came to like me very much and by the end of her life I had become quite acceptable.


  4. I just keep hoping that my mom will not strangle me when I tell her about her to-be daughter-in-law 😀 So even if friendship is very important (in my opinion) but not *mandatory* in a relationship, it does not matter when Mamma takes the charge!! 😀
    And do you fall in love after planning and weighing the other person?? I guess not.


    1. @Suda
      Hard to say. Love together with weighing, love before, or later … Life is more serious than one thinks at 20-30. But many arranged unions also proved to be successful.


      1. I would say *most* of the arranged unions prove to be successful. Look at India, more than half marriages are arranged. And most of them never fail. And I am not talking about just not taking divorce and staying together. They truly fall in love afterwards.


        1. I know. There is a wisdom behind such traditions. As I view it, since every family loves their children, they tend to choose well (common ground etc.) and the marriage has more chances to be successful (falling in love at a later stage is natural for two young people.) On the other hand, choosing only out of love has its dangers, since, as we say, love is blind.


  5. Hello there! Very interesting post! For me, being able to respect my spouse AND be his friend is essential.
    Japan too is a country that still relies on arranged marriages. The custom was fading away but has made a “come back” in the last couple of years!


    1. Hi Tulsa, welcome here! I think in the West we are biased against arranged marriages and we consider them compelled marriages. I think instead there can be an underlying wisdom in them. Interesting how ‘arrangement’ is coming back, not only in the East.


  6. I married outside ethnic lines and outside my religion. So, it was a major gamble by most accounts. WE are totally opposite; yet, we managed to stay happily married for 43 years. We became good friends and made most decisions respecting the other’s point of view. From day one, we were comfortable and friendly with each other. Your premise about becoming good friends makes sense.


    1. Hi Rosaria,

      I am also totally opposite with my wife. Married for 36 years we had problems in the past whenever ‘friendship’ didn’t work between us: we were too much disturbed by each other’s flaws. Also mutual understanding of flaws is important and helps to remain friends.


  7. The good thing about pre-arranged marriages is you avoid:

    “Dad, this is Al-Hassan El bibi. He works for Al-Queda and I love him! You don’t know anything! They’re misunderstood! You’re so narrow minded”!


  8. Even in the arranged marriages, more things like ‘family wealth’ and ‘status’ etc. come into the picture. There is one advantage in arranged marriage though – When you marry someone in the same community, there is a big common ground (common interests, habits etc) already present but it still needs love, affection, honesty and commitment to make such marriages work. There are cases of arranged marriages where the two people stay in the same house but feel totally disconnected and do so out of compulsion.

    Where love marriages are concerned, the physical appearance of the other person is often regarded as an asset (This happens in the arranged marriages as well). Even though you move closely with a partner over a good point of time, when it comes to taking up actual responsibilities, both of them might just crumble and blame each other! I think some maturity is required here and hence it is better to not marry young.

    Destination Infinity


    1. Thank you for your contribution Destination Infinity!

      I agree. Marriage requires a lot of maturity. I remember I was immature when I got married. The student revolution of my time was no great preparation to responsibilities. Whatever I learned later, I did the hard way. Fortunately we decided to have children not soon after marriage.
      Today, at least here in the West, young age means often irresponsibility.

      A common ground can help. But the mere fact of being man and woman, two different beings, makes things complicated even with a similar background. I don’t understand why in school we do not ‘study’ the opposite sex from a psychological point of view etc. I guess it might help. Nobody really teaches young people to address the big issues of life.


  9. You are so right about not being prepared for life’s big decisions. I mentioned we have been happily married for 43 years. We kept rearranging our expetactions, making compromises. We still do.

    G. Look what you’ve started!

    p.s. As a mother, I still have an urge to find the right person for my unmarried son. Fortunate for him, we live 800 miles away.


    1. Of course, Rosaria, a succesful marriage is based on three things, love, even if acquired on the long term, mutual respect and compromise. Without the latter, the 2 formers are insuffucient.


  10. Very interesting topic, my Friend.

    Parents as friends I can fathom AFTER the rebellion period. Parenting while behaving like friends to kids during that catharsis is folly.

    I’m still unmarried and the single mom of a toddler, any ideas, folks?

    Lola xx


    1. True. If I well understood what you mean, during that rebellion parents and kids were one against the other.

      Any idea … well, sweet Lola, what if you tried to ask your mamma and elders to help you about Mr. Right? No kidding, it’s not that strange, the foolish-love solution is just a blink historically (my grandmother got her marriage arranged.) Both East and West always planned family matters.
      Another thing. Maybe between Rome and America there are 100,000 or more men that would be perfect for you. The problem is establishing a connection.


  11. I am late but better late than never!
    Arranged marriages do have their advantages. Parents have the best interests at heart and the selection of person from same traditions, upbringing helps in eliminating a lot of hiccups as compared to inter caste or inter religion or inter regional love marriages. But social vices like dowry and domination of the groom’s side have defamed arranged marriages.
    Friendship is very important in marriage. But the problem in arranged marriage is that one has to take the leap and then find out whether that person can be your friend forever or not. And if it is not, then u have to compromise and bear for rest of your life because in India divorcees are looked down upon. That is why the younger generation is opting for love marriages though I dont say they are 100% successful.
    And as for evaluating before falling in love, one thing I dont believe in is love at first sight.


  12. What an interesting question!
    Friendship is one of the most stable and powerful relationships, involving shared respect and affection, loyalty and understanding, altruism and trust, and empathy and a certain lack of rivalry… what more can one want in life to be content and warm and cozy and secure… 🙂
    Friendship can make a marriage the most satisfying thing and the greatest strength in one’s life and a marriage with a lot of passion and even love, but no friendship, cannot be that gratifying.
    No system of marriage, family, education or government is perfect or foolproof in this world. We live in an imperfect world, trying to make things work for us. But all those who have known true gentle friendship with anyone, will know, it is worth having for a lifetime.


    1. PS: I also think people make compromises for a child and friend more easily than for a parent or romantic partner. It helps to have friendship with the person you live with. 🙂 Passion is overrated, when it comes to a stable marriage. Continued passion is necessary in work, or in anything when you want to excel. But romantic passion is like ice cream’s position in one’s dietary chart, it is not enough to sustain a happy marriage or even a happy live-in relationship.


  13. @Reema

    Hi, and thanks to both of you for your contribution!

    Reema, nice reflection on the pros and cons of both solutions, arranged and non arranged. I think that both marriage solutions imply the risk of not becoming good friends forever, which is very bad, since a marriage can last 50 and more years.

    Nomad says that passion is overrated, when it comes to a stable marriage. I think in fact that passion and friendship belong to different spheres of our psyche. But dowry and domination of the groom’s family factors, as they are in India, I am not in a position to evaluate in defaming arranged marriages.

    As Nomad says, we live in an imperfect world – but we love this world so much and we don’t want to leave it, do we.

    Romantic passion is like ice cream’s position in one’s dietary chart, it is not enough to sustain a happy marriage.

    I loved that, Nomad! Just an icecream in our diet, I agree, but, at any rate, what a super icecream!

    All my warmest regards to both of you.



  14. @ Man of Roma

    This may sound absurd but I think the bigger question is “Why Marry?”

    I mean maturity is required for marriages to work. (Ps: I have no hands on experience to draw upon)
    But even in case of aranged marriage, why take a plunge based on others decision and judgement?

    I think we must ask ourselves why do we want to marry first?

    If we are able to answer that question satisfactorily.. then the comes the question of finding a mate (arranged or otherwise).

    Then we should hold back and think are we ready to commit to that person…

    Otherwise, it becomes a question of chance… and compromise…

    Marriages are not meant for compromising .. If I am not wrong they are supposed to bring oout the best in both the partners..

    By the way, your discussion over here scares me.. going by the comments made here with those high sounding words… I will never find a partner… or rather No one is gonna choose me aqs their partner… 😛


    1. I think we must ask ourselves why do we want to marry first

      I agree. Although there must be a reason why most of the people marry. Maybe at your age, or at the phase you are in, it is not that clear. One has to find himself first. Then it becomes easier finding a partner. Well, it’s what has happened to me in any case.

      high sounding words …
      True. I can speak only for myself. Just look at the content if there is any. This not being my natural ‘spoken’ language, I tend to imitate the written-in-books type of English. I in fact live in a totally Italian milieu.


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