Despite a recent resurgence of interest in friendship and a seemingly inexhaustible fascination with Rousseau, scholars have neglected Rousseau's conception of friendship. The work that does exist emphasizes friendship's ability to inculcate virtue, and moors Rousseau to the classical notion that friendship catalyzes ethical improvement. However, Rousseau lowers the aim of friendship by decoupling it from the process of moral learning and putting limits on the degree of intimacy between friends. The argument is made in four steps. First, Rousseau's theory of friendship differs from its relevant predecessors in both origin and end. Second, the effort to ground friendship in pity bounds emotional intimacy, since pity introduces elements of character difference as well as sameness. Third, Rousseauan friendship fails to catalyze virtue and is successful instead in providing consolation. Finally, the essay considers the function of friendship in a Rousseauan polity.