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.
- 君子之交淡若水，小人之交甘若醴。君子淡以亲，小人甘以绝。 （《庄子•山木》） （君子之间的交往像水一样淡然，小人之间的交往像甜酒一样甘美。君子之间淡然却心地亲近，小人之间甜蜜却利断义绝。）
The relations between men of virtue are plain like water, while those between petty men are 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)
- 君子之接如水，小人之接如醴。君子淡以成，小人甘以坏。 （《礼记·表记》） （君子之交淡如清水，小人之交甘如甜酒。君子因其淡泊[不图私利]而相互成就，小人因其甜美[贪图私利]而彼此败坏。）
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)
- 君子之交也，以道义合，以志契亲，故淡而成焉。小人之接也，以势利结，以狎慢密，故甘而败焉。 （葛洪《抱朴子·疾谬》） （君子交往，因为道义相合走到一起，因为志趣相投而亲近，所以相处淡然却能彼此成就。小人交往，因为权势、财利而结交，因亲昵不敬而密切，所以虽然亲热却彼此败坏。）
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）