Marcel sacrifices time with Saint-Loup in order to spend time with the little band. Saint-Loup is the model of a friend, so why the sacrifice?
And yet perhaps I was not wrong in sacrificing the pleasures not only of society but of friendship to that of spending whole day in this green garden. People who have the capacity to do so—it is true that such people are artists, and I had long been convinced that I should never be that—also have a duty to live for themselves. And friendship is a dispensation from this duty, an abdication of self. Even conversation, which is friendship’s mode of expression, is a superficial digression which gives us nothing worth acquiring. We may talk for a lifetime without doing more than indefinitely repeat the vacuity of a minute…(II,664)
…That first impression of boredom our friendship impels us to correct when we are alone again, to recall with emotion the words which our friend said to us, to look upon them as a valuable addition to our substance, when the fact is that we are not like building to which stones can be added from without, but like trees which draw from their own sap the next knot that will appear on their trunks, the spreading roof of their foliage. (II,664)
With the girls, on the other hand, if the pleasure which I enjoyed was selfish, at least it was not based on the lie which seeks to make us believe that we are not irremediably alone and prevents us from admitting that, when we chat, it is no longer we who speak, that we are fashioning ourselves then in the likeness of other people and not of a self that differs from them. (II,665)