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Lending a Helping Hand: Is it Possible for Extreme Kindness to Ruin a Good Friendship?

Updated on May 12, 2012
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption
Single White Female Poster
Single White Female Poster
The Sting
The Sting
The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspects
Friends
Friends | Source
Hawaii Five-O
Hawaii Five-O | Source

What is a friend? According to the dictionary, there are several definitions to choose from. A friend can be someone who just holds someone in high regard and is in good terms with them. That supposed friend can also be a supporter or a patron who helps out whenever they can solicited or otherwise. Can a friendship survive after lending too much unsolicited help to people who don't deserve it or do anything in return?

Some friendships are just too toxic to ever function in a normal society. One friend is giving too much while the other always has a hand out. Here are four suggestions to determine whether your best friend is genuine or just a user in disguise.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It sounds cheesy, but its true in this case. Are you excited to see your friend's name on the Caller ID or do you cringe at the sight of it? Think carefully about your answer because the truth could change the course of your friendship forever. If your answer's a positive one, let's look at a positive example of how friendship can work for the better. A prime example would be The Shawshank Redemption's Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The friends haven't seen each other in years since Robbins escaped from jail. They weren't able to have any contact, until Freeman's character was released. The end showed a shift in the friendship which had Robbins helping Freeman adjusting to freedom, while Freeman used his prison experience to help Robbins in the beginning. It was nice to see how their friendship was able to evolve as their lives changed for better or worse.

Should friendship lead to a question of sanity? There are dating websites that help vet your potential suitors to see if they're genuine or serial killers in the making. If a friend's behavior appears off, it's time to slowly back away to prevent them from coming at you with a butcher knife. Two prime examples of psychotic friends would be Norman Bates in Psycho and Heddy in Single White Female.

On the surface, Norman (Anthony Perkins) is a pleasant man who REALLY wants to help Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) feel comfortable. When she rejects his company, Norman turns into his mother and exacts his revenge on her. In Single White Female, Heddy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) goes the extra mile to make her new roommate happy. What she didn't count for was that her roommate didn't always need Heddy's brand of help. Lesson learned from both films: Be careful how you say no to someone, because it could be the last thing you ever say again.

Betrayal and friendship go hand in hand. Can con artists be friends if a lot of money is on the line? In 1995's The Usual Suspect, a group of friends have to deal with being blackmailed by a mysterious criminal. Each friend has a secret past and their motive to survive. The ultimate betrayal came from the true identity of Keyser Soze who was someone closer to home than anyone would've expected. A more favorable example would be The Sting with the clear partnership between Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Both men seemed to truly respect each other in every possible way and pushed each other's boundaries for the movie. They were two guys who would never stab each other in the back, depending on the payday that is.

The rapport runs almost like a well oiled machine. Can you finish each other's sentences? To some, that would be a frightening concept. Almost like twins without sharing any genuine DNA. On Hawaii Five-O, the primary draw is the chemistry between stars Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan. Their playful banter often eclipsed the routine case of the week. The stars almost made the audience believe that they were actually friends off-screen as well. Another example would of course be the classic sitcom Friends where the six cast members got along so well that they were friends off camera as well. A clear sign that a friendship is in trouble is when the banter becomes stale and no longer makes any logical sense. That's when its time to go your separate ways.

In the end, a friendship can often be more of a give than a take. You have to learn how to discern which friend is more of an equal instead of someone who abuses your generous nature. Just think about what you get out of the friendship. Make a list of pros and cons. If the cons outweigh the pros, it's time to get a better set of friends who actually appreciate you.

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