In Defense of Boring Time with Friends

I was honored to be a guest writing for Gracy Olmstead’s Granola newsletter, and I wrote a defense of storge—the love marked by affection and fondness.

Inviting people into the quotidian parts of your day isn’t just, as I used to think of it, a way of staving off boredom or loneliness. It’s a pledge of affection. In the Greek typology of loves, it’s an expression of storge, which tends to be translated as “affection,” though I’ll confess I usually gloss it as “fondness.” In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes:

“Affection has a very homely face. So have many of those for whom we feel it. It is no proof of our refinement or perceptiveness that we love them; nor that they love us. What I have called Appreciative Love is no basic element in Affection. It usually needs absence or bereavement to set us praising those to whom only Affection binds us. We take them for granted; and this taking for granted, which is an outrage in erotic love, is here right and proper to a point. It fits the comfortable, quiet nature of the feeling.”

Storge sometimes feels like the most counter-cultural of the four loves, because of its smallness. An errand friendship cuts against the culture of striving and hustling that asks us to account for the usefulness of every moment of our time. Instead, it depends on leisure, on being able and willing to waste time. 

When a friend goes with you to pick up your library books, or to drop off your mail, you aren’t stepping into the role of hostess or entertainer. You simply are, and so is your friend, and it’s enough to enjoy each other’s company without working to prove your worth to each other.

Read the whole thing at Granola.

I expanded on the thought a little for my substack, Other Feminisms, focusing on how this kind of work typically falls to women.

I feel a little bad treating it as boring, since there is a kind of romance in beating the bounds of your life, keeping everything in order. Part of Jordan Peterson’s appeal comes from describing work like making your bed as fighting the Dragon of Chaos. He translates quiet, faithful work into martial metaphors. In truth, it’s much more like digging latrines than charging into the mines of No-Man’s-Land.