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May 13, 2023

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The secret to keeping everlasting friendships

ANY advice for keeping a long-lasting friendship?

Chinese idioms provide some suggestions. People often cite two common sayings that address the question.

One Chinese idiom says qinxiongdi mingsuanzhang, which means “even with your own brothers, settle accounts clearly.” Or in other words, financial matters should be dealt with expeditiously, even between brothers.

Chinese people usually think that relations are hurt if siblings are nitpicking about financial matters that involve them. That can lead to disputes or even ruptures in brotherhood.

It’s a bit like the English saying: “Short accounts make long friends.”

The other Chinese saying is junzizhijiao danrushui, or literally “the friendship between gentlemen is as light as water.” Chinese people often use water to symbolize purity or chastity.

This idiom was first quoted by Zhuangzi (369-286 BC), a great philosopher, writer, debater and Taoist sage, in his eponymous book, which contains many stories, anecdotes and fables.

Zhuangzi believed that long-lasting and successful friendships between men of accomplishment should be mutually tolerant, nonintrusive, uninfluenced by personal interests, low maintenance and as pure as plain water.

Hence, this second Chinese proverb seems to echo the English phrase: “A hedge between keeps friendship green.”


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