I want to offer a friendship, where there is a cultural barrier that I need to respect; And there is a barrier in the other direction too - but less strong. I want to offer the friendship by stating that I made up my mind to be the other parties friend.

I see that friendship is something mutual - this is about negotiating a friendship.

While leaving, I say

I am your friend.

shaking his hand.

I'm unsure whether it would mean the same if I would say

You are my friend.

It "feels" different to me - but I can not tell how. It's not the grammatical difference, but the difference in meaning, possibly "between the lines". Are there other ways to say it?

It is important that I do not want to request an answer stating mutual friendship. So "Let's be friends!" or "I'd like to be friends with you." would not work. Even "I'd like to be your friend." requests an agreement to be friends.

The context is that I expect one of two answers:

Yes, let's be friends!

The other possible answer I want to allow for is to accept my desire to be friends, but not agreeing nor rejecting it:

Let me think about it...

or "Hmm...", which would be fine answers, similar to "I do not have made my mind up on this yet, I'll tell you next time we meet". How to say this best seems to be a different question. Also, rejection of my offer, or even rejection of me making the offer, is not relevant (but interesting).

  • 1
    I'd say I am your friend spoken to someone who wouldn't have automatically included you in his list of friends (on the basic of long-term past interactions) is often just an almost "metaphorical" way of saying My actions and intentions as regards you are friendly (i.e. - beneficial to you / to your advantage). Heading further into metaphor territory, Scepticism is your friend when conducting scientific research, for example. – FumbleFingers Aug 7 '18 at 16:25
  • There is a previous similar question on English Language Learners site. – Weather Vane Aug 7 '18 at 16:33
  • Saying 'I am your friend' can be (1) a way of stating a fact (although if that is really a fact, it rarely needs to be stated explicitly), or (2) a proposal that a friendship be established. The paragraph beginning with 'It is important', seems to rule out (1) in its first sentence, and to then rule out (2) in its second sentence. The question thus seems to be about some third possibility, and it is rather unclear what that would be. The fact that the second sentence begins with 'So' adds to the unclarity, as it is about something different than the first one. – jsw29 Nov 6 '18 at 17:50
  • In contexts like the one you’re describing here, “I am your friend” is mainly used by evil manipulators in films when trying to get the hero to do something nefarious which they don’t really want to do. It’s rarely true in that case. I would suggest not using that phrase. “I’d like to be friends/your friend” is much less likely to set off alarm bells. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 6 '18 at 7:59
  • I'm not entirely clear on what you're asking. This is my interpretation: you've decided to think of this person as a friend, and you'd like them to reciprocate. But even if they do no, you've still decided to be friendly towards them. So you aren't really requesting friendship, instead you are announcing your intentions to be friendly. Is that correct? – sky May 6 '19 at 1:10

If, while leaving and shaking hands, you said "I want to try to be your friend", that should elicit one of the two expected responses you mention. You can also consider "I want to extend my friendship to you". Both are similar - indicating that you have decided about this, but an immediate reciprocal reply is not necessary (unless they want to express the same).

The other party should either (1) indicate that they want to try to be friends also, or (2) they might just say nothing (indicating that they were thinking about it...a "silent" Hmm...).

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