Requested by teiyaoloilolesoipei who asked about my philosophy on friendship.
Wanna have a more interesting read? Replace “friendship” with “relationship”. It still applies.
I follow 3 main guidelines, before seeking/finding a good friend.
- First: Alone is okay. I am okay with being alone, and this allows me to gain a measure of independence both in identity and in mentality. It sounds backwards, but it is necessary because finding a good friend takes patience, and then building that relationship takes time.
- Second: trust your instincts/gut/whatever you call it. It doesn’t steer me wrong, and it’s saved me more times than not from people and situations that would have been really bad.
- Third, when in doubt, run some tests. I wrote about an example here.
“The currency of friendship is trust. When trust is uncertain, a friendship cannot survive.” ~Opalflame
I went through my formative years being shredded by experiences of betrayal by “friends”. I had “friends” who only needed me when no one else was around, then, as soon as there was another person, I’d get ditched. I had friends who would talk about me behind my back and say some of the most cruel things you could tell a young child. I had “friends” who would destroy my things when they’d visit my house, steal things from me when I wasn’t paying attention, and spread lies and rumors afterward. I had “friends” who tried to destroy my reputation, because they wanted to get with my best guy friend and thought I was competition. I had “friends” whose jealousy would push them beyond all reason.
Note, a weird motif throughout life: all of my “friends” who would backstab and otherwise betray me were all females. I’ve yet to encounter a guy friend who’d do/who did do any of those things to me.
My theory? Guys don’t let stupid shit get between them, they tend to be solid until women come around. Legit, the only thing that will break a friendship is
1) a woman
in that order. It’s an evolutionary thing. Guy friends tend to support each other while girl friends tend not to. Especially in formative years.
It wasn’t until I went to high school that I started having friends who were girls. But, I always prefered to hang out with guys- it was the best of both worlds. They had smarter, funner conversations, and we’d never fight about girls. Win, win.
Back to the initial question, until then, I had to be okay with being alone. This is tough, this is hard, and honestly, it made me sad. But, it addressed that part of me that would do anything to keep a friend, no matter how badly they treated me. It’s akin to the girl who stays with an abusive man, because she’s afraid she’ll never find another companion. For me, it was skewed- I couldn’t do that to myself.
I came to this realization after Mom held a mini intervention. She knew what was going on -I’m very close with my Mom and I had told her everything that had happened. She sat me down, looked me straight in the eye, and said “you don’t need them. You don’t need people like that in your life”. And she was right- better to wait for the right person than rush to desperately connect with people who may be all wrong. Because people will take advantage of that desperation.
It didn’t come easily. I have an introverted personality, my trust was especially shot to hell back then, but I like and want to hang out with people. I was alone for the majority of my upbringing- being homeschooled in a town of aged-retired-waiting-for-the-end population where not a kid was anywhere in the vicinity. I had a brother, thankfully, and he to this day is one of my best friends- we can talk about anything, everything, nothing is off limits (it took lots of time to build this relationship, let me tell you!).
To my second point, never underestimate your gut feelings. I’ve had gut feels that said “HELL Nah, stay away” even tho the person seemed fine. Come to find out later, I dodged a bullet there!
Trust and Criteria
Friendship takes trust. And after all I’ve been through, trust is a precious gift I don’t give lightly. If I’m not sure, I test by sharing something insignificant and seeing who else suddenly knows.
In closing, it’s important to think about what you’re looking for in a friendship.
Someone to talk to? Someone to laugh with?
Someone who will accept you for who you are?
These are all things that should (IMO) come naturally.
It’s also important to recognize roles that friends may not necessarily envelop. Like, they may not necessarily take the place of, say a therapist or a parent, but they can be a great support nonetheless. I realized that I wanted friends who I could just chat with, someone I could hang out with, game with, grab coffee with, go clubbing with (rather tame scene, clubbing might be a strong word for what it actually is…) and just be normal with.
I shouldn’t have to “kill” myself, or “destroy” who I am to get there. I shouldn’t have to be “victimized” to find it, and I won’t be “defined” by someone else, or their “promises” of acceptance, if I just “drown” myself in their demands/expectations…