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The Good Places of Friendship

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In A Blue Fire, archetypal psychologist James Hillman writes about the relationship between trust and betrayal. According to Hillman, our fear of betrayal can cause us to try to protect ourselves by creating the “perfect” relationship, one that tolerates no risk of betrayal. But a relationship that cannot accept the prospect of betrayal is less about love than it is about power and fear, because trust always contains within it the possibility of betrayal. And betrayal, as painful as it is, offers the gift of forgiveness, which can transform pain into wisdom, and open doors to reconciliation.Within our marriages and family relationships, we are often encouraged by the larger contexts of shared lives, family ties, and marriage contracts to weather betrayals. In friendships, however, there is much more freedom. As Caroline Knapp noted in an essay called “Grace Notes: An Ode to Best Friends,” friendships are not institutionalized relationships, the way marriage and family are, so they tend to be more transient. In our friendships, when we encounter feelings of betrayal, breaches of boundaries, or even just …

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