- Mental Health
Telling Your True Friends from Untrue Ones
Trust Is to Be Deserved
Let us first see about all those folks who don't qualify to become true friends - since I got this feeling that you would prefer it in that order. The following old saying, as cynical as may be, perfectly covers the kind of people that you would want to stay away from: "Do not confide to your friend what your enemy should not know".
It does sound cynical all right, even more so because it is generalizing like most of proverbs do, not considering all those wonderful human beings without whose friendship life would never be complete.
Just like there are certain types of people who, for one negative trait or another don't have much to invest into a loving relationship, the same holds true about candidates for a good and lasting friendship. While it's hard to tell which of those types inspired the author of that cynical statement, let's take a wild guess that it must have been one of those in descriptions that follow.
Bitterness Is Not a "Friendly" Taste
I used to have a lot of compassion for those folks who could not shake off their resentment for those in their past who had hurt them emotionally. I still think that they deserve a friendly hand to guide them out of their emotional maze - but after having my share of them in my life, I am going to let another good soul to take over that noble task.
At the time when I wiggled my way out of such friends I picked up some bad impressions about the quality of our "friendship". Beside the point that it was chronically one-sided, because it was always about them and their whimsical emotional needs, I was increasingly getting tired of noticing how they actually didn't want to get better.
There seemed to be something of an emotional pay-off in not being expected to act "normally", and getting away with every kind of eccentricity in their repertoire. And then, "if you were a true friend, you were obligated to understand and tolerate".
Those culprits of their formative years promptly got replaced by "bad" bosses, "bad" co-workers, "bad" doctors - and pretty soon you would get an earful about the whole damn world being nothing but "bad".
Needless to say, such "friends" can drain you of all the life juices there are in you.
They Just Need to Be Better than You
Now that I am getting so hot about describing those folks who drag an emotional tail from their past, how could I stop before saying a few about those with a deep seated insecurity who will eagerly use your "friendship" to keep proving their advantages over you - as to compensate for that inferiority.
Yes, I have had a few of those for my friends as well - what can I say, I have a soft heart for those in emotional needs. Now, to avoid mentioning both genders - like I do in some other articles - let's agree about a "she", although a "he" is just as much a potential specimen of that type of friends. I have had both and I am not taking sides.
So, she will befriend you basically with the only unconscious motivation to show off with her advantages over you. God forbid that you might come up with a major innovation in your household, buy a new car, or something - she might find a craziest reason to break up with you. If you went for a vacation, she rushed to take a trip too, and all in all - she just can't see you showing any signs of success in life without interpreting them as your trying to compete with her.
If you happen to be smarter, better looking, or healthier, she is bound to match it with her material possessions. Indeed, that inner insecurity is doing a number on your friendship, giving you temptations from time to time to terminate that game that's testing your limits of compassion and understanding.
So what do you do with friends like that? Well, despite those temptations, you keep them, because there are those other qualities in them which are worth your hanging around them. "No one is perfect" comes to mind every time that you meet, and besides, in all their trying to be your good friends they may have nothing malicious in mind, it's all locked in their unconscious that they "need to be better".
But of course, I can't generalize here, and you may have a different idea about the sincerity of such friendship. While I may not brag about such a friendship, let me brag at least about my personal flexibility.
A Drag of a Friendship
Have you ever been, or still are friends with someone with whom you hardly have anything in common, and every so often you surprise yourself with that question: "Mother of a goat! How did that person get into my life?" Then you remember how it all started - you made that silly mistake over a drink at a party to give her your phone number.
It's almost like she took that last vacant seat in the human gallery of your life - not in any imaginable way contributing to it, not spoiling anything either, with no difference in your feelings whether she is around or not. But then somehow you keep her in your life.
Have you had any such friends that you had no heart to stop seeing, but every time you felt relieved when she left? I don't know why people like that remind me of those small oceanic fishes that stick to a huge fish's back like glued to it.
So you meet your good friend, and there she is. And before you know it, a few days later you are seeing her over the rim of your coffee cup, thinking of something else and smiling. It used to happen to me, especially in my younger years.
These days I am more than grateful for the invention of that "call display" on my telephone. You must know by now what I mean.
Take a Number
Generally speaking, by being only humans, all of us have a combination of some characteristics which together spell our imperfection. However, friends are supposed to be those special folks who will gladly turn their blind eye to that aspect of our nature and accept us as we are.
So it may come as a surprise when you realize one day how someone whom you call a "friend" only invites you when she could "match" you with always the same group, while leaving you out when another "special" group is coming. That selective kind of invitations at first glance makes you wonder if anything about you is not "presentable" enough for that other bunch of friends.
But then you realize that the reality of it is probably opposite from that impression. Namely, your friend may be concerned that you are "too presentable" and as such you might steal some of those friends off her while being more of the center of attention than she.
Or maybe that first possibility is right, and we are just counteracting the feeling of rejection with a possibility that feels better. At this point I just can't resist comparing the situation with a cartoon with that cute skunk Pepe Le Pew.
In one of the episodes, amorous as he always is, Pepe is chasing that black cat who, by accident, had a white paint spilled all along her back, now looking to Pepe like a female skunk. Pepe's comment: "Look, she is crazy about me, and now she is playing hard to get".
As the cat is frantically running away from him, at one point she falls into a pond, and Pepe, turning to the camera proudly says: "Look, she is refreshing herself for me. You know, it is just possible to be too irresistible."
As I was writing about that second possibility of our being "too presentable" for that group of "special" guests of our friend - I started laughing at my possibly blind optimism in Pepe's style, and I just had to share it with you. I hope you found it as amusing as it appeared to me.
Playmates Make Some Great Friends
With that last story about Pepe Le Pew I announced the change in the tone of my article. Indeed, a lot has been said in here about dysfunctional friendships, although the theme is almost inexhaustible.
Why so little space reserved for something good? You see, when you come to a doctor to hear about the results of your medical tests and he gives you a clean bill of health, it will all be said in a couple of sentences. It's only when something is wrong that it may take him much longer to explain.
Likewise, it doesn't take much to explain what a "clean bill of health" of a friendship may look like. True friends are a priceless treasure, and even a psychological necessity of a full life. There is that playful side in us (it should be anyway) which seeks co-players, just like it used to be in our childhood and teens.
Jokes, music, friendly teasing, games, and to some folks also those outdoors activities that friends may share - not even to mention that understanding support, affection, and respect, those are all ingredients of a great friendship.
That Rare Alter-Ego
The deepest of all personal relationships other than with your spouse you could only achieve with that rare and so hard to find bosom-body, that "telepathically-close" soul whom you trust with your life, and with whom you share deepest intimate secrets, your convictions, your intellectual and artistic passions.
It's someone in whom you see the reflection of yourself, and who makes it so easy for you to take lightly all your aspects of imperfection, because he did. And your alter-ego shines even more when surrounded by others, as he stands out with those vibes that make him so distinct and unique in comparison to them.
Well, like I said, such a friend is not easy to find, but I wish you all to have at least one in the course of your life.