You only need one!
A friend that sticketh closer than a brother and a brother is born for adversity but in these cut throat times…
Having a real friend is a rarity many long for but can’t afford, they are too busy chasing dreams to grow potential friendships and instead make do with frenemies- well not the absolute bad kind, just the kind that are happy for you and with you till you start to outshine them.
The truth is the world talks about frenemies like they are the worst but they seem to be just a mirror image of the friends they keep. Jealousy laced with a tinge of envy has become a hustle garland people wear with pride, it dictates their drive for success and their level of satisfaction and contentment in life in comparison with the next dude in their circle of influence. In fact many a frenemy have been the sure push behind a man’s success story (the Lord keep my enemies alive so they can witness my victory syndrome).
It’s all a great arrangement till you actually need a friend- one you can trust with your life, one you can do business with without ever getting screwed, one you can ask to care for your family after you are gone, one you can share your deepest, darkest secrets with, one you’d mutually take a bullet for, one you can laugh with, cry with, be brutally honest with and take real advice from because you know they have your back no matter what! Some people are lucky and their spouse becomes that friend, others are luckier and they are gifted with such friendships (na only Baba God fit give this one oh- because human beings are innately flawed and he knows what flawed souls work best in sync) but how do you get that sort of friend- the BFF who still cracks you up in your 70s and would still fight your battle for you even if it’s with a wobbly cane and hoarse curses?
1) Be honest about the friendships in your life.
Draw a list of all your ‘friends’ and then put them in 3 groups;
the frenemies (they’ve pricked you with pocket knives enough times for you to know they’d stab you with a kitchen knife if they ever got the chance);
then the real friends (usually one or two- they won’t be perfect but you can count the times they’ve taken a bullet for you or gotten you out of hell- it’s not enough for them to sit with you and give great advice cos talk is cheap);
and then the acquaintances (it doesn’t matter how often you guys hang out- they are the ones who the world thinks are your friends cos they are in all your facebook and Instagram pics but you know exactly where you stand with them and don’t even want them knowing your business so there’s always a façade and lots of coverups when they are around). This last group is different from the frenemies because your frenemies have access to your heart and your personal business these people only have access to your good days and great occasions!
Now to the second…
2) Be honest about what you want out of a friendship
Everybody wants different things from a friendship. Most people need the 3 groups of friends to satisfy 3 different longings. The frenemies to push you to be better (some healthy or unhealthy competition), the real friends to share your burdens and the acquaintances to have fun with (because all work and no play…). A friend can function as 2 and 3 or 1 and 3 but 1 and 2 always cancel out each other and if a 2 acts like 1, the 2 becomes a 1!
The real issue begins when you blur these lines or worse put the wrong person in the wrong group. You need to be honest about what you want out of a friendship so that you don’t go telling your deepest woes to an acquaintance (TMI- awkward!) or to a frenemy (ammunition- dangerous!) A person doesn’t get upgraded to 2 because they have been in your life for years (perhaps waiting to strike) or because they held your hand through one crisis (did you get your degree after just one exam?). You need to take time to study their personality, how they feel about you and their concept of loyalty and their spoken and unspoken words not to mention their actions! The next time you want to reach out to a friend, you need to ask yourself what you desire at that moment- some excitement, some competition-driven motivation or a real friend and let it guide your call out.
3) Be honest about where you stand with each person.
Unrequited friendship is just as bad as unrequited love. Does your boo have a boo? If you are her number 3 and she is your number 2 then you are both out of sync and that friendship will not be satisfying.
Don’t mistake a person who is genuinely nice and honest and helpful to everybody for your own personal person!
That’s why nice people always have tons of friends but they alone know who their friends really are. So if you are always sharing life issues with her and she’s so helpful and such a great listener but you don’t know jack about her or well the stuff about her that really matters, she isn’t your friend. She is your counselor, doctor or life coach at best!
Not being honest about where you stand with people leads to disappointments and heart break and dramatic feelings of betrayal which you wouldn’t have been feeling if you only opened your eyes.
4) Be honest about who you are.
Would you be friends with you?
I’ve noticed that a lot of people who are insincere, backstabbers, foul-mouthed, competitive, unfeeling (the bad character list is quite long) are the ones who are the loneliest, who crave more meaningful friendships and who have totally lost hope in the sincerity of a good friendship (“I don’t have friends that are girls, too much drama!” And the guys? “You know guys only want one thing!”)
Some people have developed these traits as a defense mechanism for all the stuff they have seen or gone through (kill or be killed), others are really good people deep down but never let anyone see the good because of all the emotional baggage it’s buried under but you must understand that actions and reactions are equal and opposite!
Some people also see an overly friendly person as either suspicious (even the bible asks you to suspect a neighbor that loudly greets you early in the morning) or having too many friends so they don’t want to increase your body count. Sanguines tend to have a lot of acquaintances since they are easily the life of the party but very few meaningful friendships and as a result get very lonely!
Also some people are overly jealous and clingy and stifle their friendships but I think this again is mostly a myth. Unless you are a sociopath, a real friend would not consider you jealous or clingy because your friendship would be as much of a priority to them as it is to you however if your friend sees you only as a number 1 or 3, she could have you committed!
If you are in need of a real friend, check yourself are you friend material?
5) Be honest about the friendships you have ignored.
Nothing like a post like this to open your eyes and make you realize that you’ve spent too much time watering and nurturing the weeds instead of tending your garden! No friendship even the strongest ones will thrive without love and attention. Look at that list again, if you were unable to put down any name in the real friend group (2) then you need to draw up another list of people who could be potential friends (based on surprising acts of kindness, their total devotion to you even when you don’t give back or some other positive action- forget words) and beside their names write down why exactly you didn’t nurture that friendship. If the reason is a valid one, strike their names off the list (not all that glitters is gold) but if your busy schedule or laziness or your sense of entitlement is the reason why you you haven’t nurtured that friendship then get your garden tools and do some work! If the friendship was made in heaven, it won’t be too late.
Real friends make life so much more beautiful but even pretty gardens have weeds. If your real friend has hurt you and you cannot seem to trust him or her anymore, demote the person to number 1 or 3 and move on. You’ll find it easier to let go of the unforgiveness when you don’t have to pretend that the friendship is something it isn’t. Some friendships last for only a season, others for a life time but I can assure you that when one door closes the good Lord always opens another.
Have a lovely day Chutzpah fam,