What is a friend? At what point on the scale does one become less of a friend and more of a friendly acquaintance?
If we’re lucky, we’ll have a small circle of really close friends and a wider circle of not quite so close friends; the ones we’d invite to a party as we really enjoy seeing them but we wouldn’t necessarily call upon them in a crisis. Then there’s the widest circle of all made up of friendly acquaintances that I refer to as ‘rent-a-crowd’; the people you’d invite to a large gathering to make up the numbers.
A very dear friend of mine (and you know who you are) tells me that… “To have a friend, you need to be a friend”. How true. Because she walks her talk, I consider myself lucky to count her as a close friend.
Then there are the ‘forever’ friends that we’ve known for many years but rarely see due to their geographical location. Even if you only get together once every 5 years or so, you’ll pick up just where you left off; it’s so comforting and if they happen to live in cool places around the globe, Yeah! I’m lucky in that regard as well.
On the other hand, I’m bemused when someone who’s consistently unavailable despite being well within reach, tells me how much they value our friendship. I’ve no idea what that means.
A pet peeve is the BFF who goes MIA as soon as they strike up a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. No true friend uses you as a fill-in between relationships then drops you like a hot brick as soon as they start dating. These emotional vampires tend to resurface when the relationship goes sour because they need your support …until next time. After the initial disappointment and once you realize you’ve been used as space-filler, it’s easy to let them go. The filler-friend can become your BFF very quickly and given that relationships often end the same way they start, you’ll be dropped in a nanosecond. Unless you like being used, it’s best to let them go permanently. Oh, and the excuse you’ll hear when you bump into them; “I’ve been sooooo busy!” … doesn’t work because any intelligent adult knows that we’re never too busy for what’s important. Message received, thank you.
Equally annoying is the friend who gets in touch sporadically to say how much they miss you and “let’s get together soon” but when you respond with a suggested date, you won’t get a reply for months until you receive an identical message to the first one. Hello? What’s the point here? Are you just checking in and if so, why? So you can knock me off your Christmas card list or not? After the 3rd or 4th instance of this, I didn’t bother responding and wonder of wonders! I never heard from them again. Mission accomplished and flake-free!
Then there are those one-sided friendships; when you get together it must be on their schedule (they’re frequently late but will announce that they’re never late for anything important) and you’ll always be doing what they want to do. They’ll let you down and change their plans at the last minute without consideration or thought for your inconvenience, so depending on how much you value yourself and your time, you can choose to suck it up, meet only occasionally or not at all and just accept it for what it is.
Or, perhaps you know of someone who collects people and files them away for future use? I’ve known individuals who are super gregarious and chummy in order to draw you in so they can exploit you at a later date. You’re being sized up at the outset for your exploitability-factor and if you’re deemed potentially usable, you’ll be tricked into thinking you have a new friend. Be very careful here; if you suspect you’re being cultivated, run! You’ll know this by the way they demolish other people’s characters. They may have a narcissistic personality disorder and because they’ve exploited and bad-mouthed everyone they know, they’ll have no-one left to turn to should disaster strikes them personally. Sadly, they won’t take any responsibility for this and will blame the world.
So the question is, are you a good friend to your friends? Am I to mine? If we can answer ‘Yes’ to the following, I hope it means that we are:
• You’re as good as your word.
• You’re trustworthy – you keep your friend’s confidences to yourself.
• Everyone else’s time is just as important as yours.
• You never drop friends just because you’ve found a love interest.
• You’ll support a friend in distress even if it’s at an inconvenient hour.
• You don’t only contact your friends when you want something.
• You can share the good, the bad, the funny and the tragic and know that anything you say won’t be used against you in gossip.
• You’ll do small things you know would make your friend happy and you expect nothing in return.
• You don’t have a ‘quid pro quo’ attitude.
If I’ve missed anything please feel free to add your comments because I believe earning the right to be called a true friend is a work in progress.