Closeup of business colleagues shaking hands

Buying and Selling Friendship

“Electronic communication is an instantaneous and illusory contact that creates a sense of intimacy without the emotional investment that leads to close friendships.” – Clifford Stoll, Silicon Snake Oil

It’s not enough that so many relationships at work, at home and at play derail and disintegrate, losing their connectivity, intimacy and depth of likability. Now folks have the opportunity to create new relationships i.e., “friends”), poof!, by buying and selling “friendship.” uSocial, an Australian marketing company will save you the time and trouble of creating or cultivating friendships. uSocial makes relationship easy, by “buying” you a few thousand friends and buddies.

If you’re feeling friendship-deficient, uSocial will help you “buy” friends by the thousand on Facebook for a few dollars per thousand! So, need to feel like a somebody by being the friend of someone who’s popular, or need to have someone like you? Or, have no friends? Just ante up! Money talks and it says: “buy or sell your friendship!”

If I don’t have the money?

While many may scoff at the superficiality and inanity of actually buying or selling “friendship,” the hard truth is many of us actually do “trade” for friendship, albeit not with money. How so?

Self-sacrificing for friendship

Some folks cultivate friendships by doing-doing-doing for others in the hope of buying their acceptance and approval – their friendship. Committed and married couples do this with one another. Folks behave this way at work with colleagues and bosses, at home with partners, spouses, children and parents, and in the outside world with neighbors and others. We sacrifice our own self, our integrity, our time, even our hopes and dreams to please others so we can feel accepted, loved and “be their friend.”

Many sacrifice their life force to be accepted by someone whose “friendship” they feel they desperately need. Many resist relating to particular co-workers, bosses, or relatives, for example, to be accepted by someone else whose friendship they sorely feel they need. Specific ways people sacrifice their life for others include: putting their plans on hold, doing for others, or owing someone something, out of shame, deferring from making important choices and decisions without first asking their “friend,” feeling guilty when making a decision their “friend” disagrees with, constantly seeking approval, and living in a co-dependent relationship.

Controlling others to garner friendship

One insidious behavior pattern people use to “buy” friendship is controlling others. For example, do you ever act like a victim, feign an emotional or physical illness, or helplessness so a “friend” will save you or “heal” you? Do you ever overtly or covertly threaten to withhold or withdraw your friendship if a “friend” doesn’t “do something?” Do you ever say (in some way, shape or form) “It’s your turn” to take care of you? Do you feel you need a “friend” to consistently complete your activities or tasks because you’re too stressed, anxious or overwhelmed? Do you offer friendship as a “reward” your friend earns for doing what you want them to do for you? On a deeper, abusive level, do you threaten a friend with your own self-destruction to keep their friendship? Do you try to gain others’ friendship by telling them how essential they are to your life?


Probably the most unconscious and unhealthy way folks seek to gain and keep friends is through accommodating, i.e., doing whatever it takes to please another in order to gain or keep their friendship. We accommodate when we tell others what we think they want to hear, do for others what they want even though such actions or activities might go against our values or moral code. Accommodating is the most common way folks buy another’s friendship, short of paying outright for it, and sometimes we’ll actually foot the bill and actually pay whatever it takes to make or keep a friendship.

Why we buy friendship

“The worst solitude is to be destitute of sincere friendship.” Sir Francis Bacon

Early on, as infants and young children, we have a deep need to relate and be related to; we needed contact, warmth, and human relationship. At that time we had the capacity to be our True, Real and Authentic Self, but our parents and primary caregivers, given their own imperfections and struggles (as all parents and primary caregivers experience; it’s part of the human condition) were unable to see and appreciate our True and Real Self.

So, we interpreted this “rejection” to mean: “Being real means the absence of love, warmth, holding and security.”   So, in growing up, we learned to pretend, to be like them, to join them in their world the world of illusion, of “lies,” the conventional world. As part of the human condition, most of us learn to become what our parents and primary caregivers wanted us to be, focusing on what they paid attention to in us, what they preferred in us, what made them relate to us (as we moved away from, and abandoned, our True and Real Self.

Thus, we learned to “accommodate” and please them in order to gain their love, acceptance, and approval.   And now as adults, we find ourselves behaving in often self-limiting, self-sabotaging and self-destructive ways we feel will get us others’ love, approval, and acceptance – friendship – even paying a few dollars for a thousand “friends.”

Authentic friendship is an “inside job”

Authenticity is a heart and soul quality. Living one’s life is not about pleasing others, having a full dance card, or bragging that we have a host of superficial “friends.” The foundation of a conscious, healthy and real friendship comes with accessing one’s inner confidence, value and worth, not from controlling others, accommodating others or responding to others’ controlling behaviors – at work, at home or at play.

The Core Value of Friendship comes deeply from within. Allowing (without acting out on) one’s fears of abandonment, guilt, shame and low self-esteem and then “doing the personal work” to move through our fears and insecurities, to contact and allow our True and Real Self can allow the possibility of being and acting independently, with more confidence and a healthy sense of self-worth and value. This flavor of true and real Friendship arises from contact with our True and Real Self where friendship is defined by quality not quantity.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” Especially the thousand you can buy for a few dollars.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • How do you define friendship?
  • How would your friends describe your friendship?
  • How well do you know you online “social network” friends. Really.
  • How well do you know your actual real-life, real-time friends? Really.
  • Do you ever use controlling behaviors to keep a friend?
  • Do you ever sacrifice your self, your plans, your energy or accommodate others to keep someone’s friendship?
  • Are you ever lonely?
  • Do you feel your parents and friends were/are “genuine” friends?
  • Would you invite your friends to share in a holiday dinner with your family? If not, why not?
  • Are you ever critical of, judgmental about, or embarrassed by your friends?
  • Are your friends trusting and trustworthy? As their friend, are you? 
  • What was your experience of friendship like when you were growing up


(c) 2013, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that thing is, maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, or pvajda(at)

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.