jūn zǐ zhī jiāo 君子之交
Relations between Men of Virtue
Relations between men of virtue are the opposite of those between petty men. The former are people with moral integrity and their relations are based on shared values. These relations may not seem close, but they are in fact strong and deep. The latter have low moral character and their relations are based on the pursuit of personal gains. These relations may seem intimate, but they will come to an end when nothing more is to be gained from them. Relations between men of virtue has been extolled by the Chinese since ancient times. This term distinguishes between moral integrity and pursuit of personal gains and between men of virtue and the petty men in the context of social interactions. It represents values of moral integrity possessed by men of virtue while censuring selfish pursuit of the petty man.
The relations between men of virtue are plain like water, while those between petty men are delicious like sweet wine. For the men of virtue the bland flavor leads to closeness; for the petty men the sweet flavor easily leads to rupture.(Zhuangzi)
The relations between men of virtue are plain like water, while those between the petty men are like sweet wine. The former helps achieve success, while the latter can only lead to discord. (The Book of Rites)
The relations between men of virtue are based on shared values and aspirations. Because of this, these men become friends. Their ties are not that close but mature. The relations between petty men are based on connections of power and pursuit of selfish gains. These people may have intimate ties but do not really respect each other. And their relations easily go sour. (Ge Hong: Baopuzi)