Constantly evaluate the company you keep.
Now, there are probably a lot of things wrong with your friends. Maybe they send you memes on Instagram from private accounts that you don’t follow or maybe they insist on having ketchup with every meal. Friends come in all shapes and sizes and although we strive to be effective allies to our nearest and dearest we often get it wrong. I don’t know if you know this but humans aren’t always rational. We do dumb things, we make uninformed decisions and generally just get things wrong. Which is okay for the most part. However in regards to the people we call our friends we expect certain qualities.
The term friend is a broad concept and there isn’t only one kind of friend. Below I have categorised perhaps the most popular kinds of friends:
Of course these categories are not static. There can be a lot of transitioning and blending but for the most part when you think of the people you consider as your friends then they fit into at least one of these classes.
And with these it’s important to be aware of what kind of relationship we have with our friends. Although I hate labelling and putting people into boxes (pardon the pun) I understand that having these identifiers are often necessary. What if a Steve becomes a Periphery or a True Don becomes a Casper. Sometimes it’s important for us to conceptualise to understand what the heck is going on.
But what actually makes someone a friend? What makes someone a good friend as opposed to a bad one? Even though we can group and categorise it’s also important to remember that when dealing with people you are actually dealing with individuals. It’s okay having your own expectation of what a friend is and what to expect of a friend but also remember that this isn’t something you discuss with your friend. There is no interview process, there’s no induction, you both just kind of chug along and begin to understand what to expect from each other without directly articulating it. Now of course you will have moments where maybe you do need to discuss with your friend why they may have acted poorly and what you envisage the friendship to be but this perception may be in contrast with your friend’s.
When you get into arguments with people you’re close to you’ll often hear the line “I wouldn’t do that to you”. And for the most part this is a legitimate stance to take. As a friend you wouldn’t expect them to steal from you, I think we can all agree on that. But basing your friends actions on your own actions towards them can be dangerous. This has been something I’ve had to come to terms with in recent years. There are certain things I would do for my friends that I wouldn’t expect them to do for me. This is by no means a bad thing, in fact it simply comes down to the idea of Love Languages.
If you don’t know what love languages are they are the way you prefer to receive and give love essentially. You can take quizzes online which will tell you what your love languages are. There’s a prize if you can guess what my top love language is. The 5 love languages are as follows:
Acts of Service
Words of Affirmation
For example, my love language may be acts of service. So the way I perceive myself as being a good friend is by doing things for my friends. However my friend may prefer words of affirmation and the way they show their friendship is just by encouraging and vocally validating me. If I am not aware of these differences I may mistake my friends unwillingness to do things for me as a presentation of being a bad friend when in reality they perceive being a good friend in other ways. Did that make sense?
As a boss, a parent or a friend, dealing with a group of people is so much more than a one size fits all. The relationships we have with each of our friends is all different, all unique and we should treat them as such. Take a holistic approach. Don’t base your actions on if you think your friends would do the same for you instead do it because they’re your friend and you want to do it. Keep your eyes open to the way people are showing that they appreciate you because you may be missing some subtle signs of affection.
There’s something powerful about knowing that there are people out there that genuinely care about your well-being and success. And these people don’t have to be “True Dons”, you may even have some Caspers out there silently cheering you on from the sidelines. People think that being a friend is a strict line of good and bad when actually from a non-binary non-subjective standpoint it’s more like big ball of wibbly wobbly friendy wendy… stuff.
I urge you to take some time and reflect on your friends and also think about the people who you maybe haven’t connected with in a while. One of the best feelings is receiving a message from someone you haven’t spoken to in a while who is just checking in to see how you are. Having these intermittent conversations doesn’t make you a bad friend it just makes you a periphery and this is where most of our friends lie.
Also though, I’m not giving an excuse to generally bad friends out there because there are many. You can drop that sucker if you need to. But don’t be a slave to your own preconceived ideas of “good friends” and “bad friends”. The value of friendship shouldn’t be understated and you will figure out the balance of what you want to put into a friendship and get out of it. Compromises will ALWAYS have to be made.
So maybe there’s nothing wrong with your friends, maybe there’s something wrong with you? Okay, let me go and tell all my friends that I love and appreciate them.