- Gender and Relationships
When Friends Betray Your Trust
A Friend Indeed
There's an old saying, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." Ever notice how true this saying is? For example, a little over a year ago, a friend needed help packing up her house. I spent nearly seven days - all day and night - packing, taping, throwing out stuff and even enlisting the help of my ex-husband just because he had a truck and we needed one. He filled up the back of his truck and hauled stuff off for her. Was I a friend to her? I think so. Indeed! This same friend has asked me for many big favors like that in prior years. I was always willing to help, even to rearrange my schedule if I could to be of aid. But when I recently asked this friend for a much smaller favor of meeting another friend to deliver something of mine to him at his home, ten minutes drive from her, she refused. She said it wasn't her responsibility, even though she had previously agreed to help me. She said my other friend should come to her home instead and until then, the items would remain at her home. Wow! Was I hurt. Consider that I work on the road. I travel four to six months a year. This is not something I can take care of without help nor something I can take care of when I return home in three months. But, you see, this can happen between friends.
Is Your Friend A Real Friend?
The person we share laughs with and have fun with can be a great social friend - but are they a true friend? Maybe not. They might only be the friend we can have laughs with over beer and nothing more. So, before you start writing my friend off as a loser who didn't live up to the responsibility that she accepted, realize that it was partly my fault. How's that, you say? Well, it was me who chose a friend who was a social friend and not a true friend for this favor. So, this cautionary tale is to help you realize that when you are counting on a friend, first make sure they are actually a real friend - and not just the one you see at birthday parties or at the bar for laughs.
In my case, I've known this friend for twenty-five years. I always want her to be a better friend and she never is. I always realize when things like this happen (it's not the first time) that she is not the only one to blame but I also share in the responsibility because I want her to be something she is not. Therefore, when you are faced with this situation, only two choices exist: (a) accept her as she is or (b) downgrade/drop the friendship.
Blood Doesn't Matter
You know that saying, "blood is thicker than water." That is to mean that our familial relationships are stronger than the ones we make outside of our family unit but that's just a saying that isn't always true. Friends can sometimes be the family we always wished we had and give us deeper meaning to our lives than our own family ever did. They can offer us the support we always hoped for in within our own family tree. The beauty of friendship is we can pick and choose them. We don't get the same flexibility with our family.
There's an ebb-and-flow to long-term friendship, just as there is in marriage. Sometimes, it's stronger and we feel close. Other times, we feel distant and removed. Rarely, we leave the friendship forever. In the latter case, it comes down to deciding what you can and cannot live with. Over the years, our own moral or ethical code may shift away from the one our friend subscribes to and, in that case, we may decide to downgrade or even completely float away from that friend forever.
What To Do?
When one is young, time is on their side. I'm not that young anymore. I have an abundance of friends - many more than when I was just starting off as a young adult. To me, friendship has more meaning than it used to. I'm more willing to work at it, cultivate it, keep it. I'm also less willing to hold onto friendships that are shallow and meaningless or actually are toxic to my life. For this friend, I've put in the work but she hasn't. I accept her for who she is but she will never be the best friend she once was to me in my youth. She's been downgraded. I'm sure this is clear to her, too. After all, when I'm in town, I go out with friends about four times a week and she is not among them. I might see her about once every one to two months. I'm not willing to throw away the friendship but I am willing to put it in the place it deserves to be in. I'm happy with that decision and I think she is, too. I've chosen to accept her for who she is.
As for you, you may consider reconsidering your own devotion to certain friendships, as well. When one has an ample number of true friends, it means that the person who has those friends is friend-worthy. It means that person is a true friend themselves. Avoid putting yourself in a position to be disappointed by friends who don't want to invest in their relationship with you. If you don't find yourself surrounded by true friends, perhaps it's time to cultivate the kind of people you want to remain constant fixtures in your life. Keep in mind that grown up toys are nice to have but true friendships are what add real value to our lives.