I wrote this article for Candid Slice based on my own personal experiences and lessons learned and observed. I hope it offers some help to someone. Friends are so important.
http://www.candidslice.com/friends-cant-live-with-them-cant-live-without-them/ (Pictures below from Candid Slice, thanks to Bob Leah.)
Friends can complete our lives, or can deplete our lives. Have you ever wondered why you ended up with some of the friends you have? What kind of friends do you have? We all have different kinds of friends with whom we share varying degrees of intimacy and for various reasons.
Some friends are “cyber friends” known through an internet site. These friends (excluding family) are people we have never meet or have met on some rare occasion. We “cyber friends” are connected through sharing games, pictures, experiences and more through the internet. These friends can give and receive a special kind of moral support and wisdom through posts. Shy people can develop a degree of confidence or connection without feeling threatened.
There are “neighbor” friends with whom we share part of our lives in a particular “neighborhood” as a church, a special group, work or some common interest group. Members of this group connect with each other through sharing common thoughts, experiences, traumas, or interests. Our friendship with them often stays in the vicinity of our “neighborhood” or special interest. We get together with them on various occasions because we genuinely like them and have some sense of fellowship.
The “takers” are friends (or even family) who take our time and energy but give back nothing to our lives. They do most of the talking, rarely listening or caring what we have to say. They ask for our help but never or rarely reciprocate. We share little or nothing in common with them. Takers at first give us a feeling that we are helpful, good hearted people. They thank us profusely but soon call again to ask if we can help them or they can borrow something else. They never or rarely seek us out as friends. Their dependence on us can become an addiction which decreases their independence. Eventually we learn to say no or to lie, just to avoid them.
Many people have “hard times,” this happens to everyone sooner or later. These friends although they may temporarily be unable to give back in the relationship should not to be lumped into the “takers.” This is a time when friends can show their true colors in how they ask for or give help.
Another kind of friend, can be called “poison.“ They make you feel angry or depressed.
They exude negative energy. They complain repeatedly about the same things, trying to garner sympathy or “support,” and never does anything about the offending person or situation.
Complaining sometimes may be helpful in some situations to alleviate stress or to help a friend resolve a problem. That is a totally different situation from one when someone constantly has nothing but negative subjects to discuss. Think about how you became someone’s friend and why you still are.
There are other kind of friends, but I won’t elaborate on more. But it is good to evaluate why people are your friends. Hold them up to a guideline of what you think a good friend should be. If they don’t stand the test, try to figure out the mechanics of the relationship.
Is the relationship all about you or their needs? Are you in a “rescuer” relationship? Do you always find yourself volunteering to help someone, instead of exploring with them how they can solve their problems? It is good to want to help people but helping the right ones in the right way is essential to your good mental health and theirs.
Are you in a relationship where someone makes you feel stupid, incompetent, or worthless? You definitely need to get out of this relationship.
If you have feelings of unworthiness, they should also be examined, especially if you continue to have only friends who “need” you and they are never there to help you when you need help. You may be picking the “dregs of the barrel” of friends because you feel you can’t do better.
So what qualifications does a good friend have?
These are only a few questions to think about. You may not be able to answer with a “yes” to all of them, but that may only be because your friendship is just starting or growing slowly.
- When you are with each other, do you find there is a balance of give and take between you?
- Do they listen and value your opinions as much as you listen to and value theirs?
- Do you look forward to seeing each other or do you dread a get-together? Can you be yourselves with each other, at your dirtiest, at your most tired, at your grumpiest?
- Can you give in to each other and yet feel comfortable standing your ground when you feel strongly about something?
- Do you feel a closeness to this person, as if you have known each other for a long time? Can you trust each other? Do you really enjoy being with each other?
- Can you laugh and be silly with each other without fear of judgment? Can you share a painful situation with each other and feel supported and cared for?
- Would you sacrifice something of value to help them if they needed help and would they do the same for you?
- Can you work together for a common goal and not have a battle about who is the leader, but rather work as a team?
These are a few guidelines, not rules. Each relationship is different in its purpose and goals. Just try to be aware of the motivation for any relationship to help make your life richer with the truly good friends. Whether they need help or you need help you will always try to “be there” for each other if you have a really good friend.
A truly good friend is solid gold!!