Do you really have true friends? Think again. Surely, having friends is a blessing. The company of friends is precious. Sometimes the only effective therapy you may have for your depression, stress, fear, confusion, and many other unpleasant feelings is to be surrounded by real friends. But when your true friends aren’t really true, how would that make you feel?
What is Friendship?
Friendship is a relationship that is formed between two people minimum. Like any other relationship, it’s based mainly on respect, trust, affection, common traits, common beliefs, common goals, safety and comfort.
Most friendships happen as a result of certain circumstances mostly by meeting people in places like school, work place, events, at friends’ places, when traveling, etc. What makes people click and stay friends, it’s their kindness and sincere actions. Forming a true and genuine friendship though where the relationship is more solid and sacred takes more than that.
One of the human needs is to live with people and around people. It’s a natural tendency to be drawn to people and form a kind of bond, whether it’s temporary, or for some time, or forever.
You can call as many people as you want ‘good friends’, but you can call one, up to four, maybe five, true and close friends, although I’ve seen exceptional cases where true, genuine, and long-lasting friendships were between more than five people.
Definition of True Friends
People might define true friends differently. One might say a true friend thinks, talks, and acts the same like me. Another one might say a true friend is someone who appreciates me for who I am. Another might say a true friend is someone I can confide into and share all my secrets with safely. One might say a true friend is someone I can be myself with. The list can go on and on. However, people agree on one thing and that is true friends will never abandon you when you are in need.
Sometimes we form a strong bond with many people and for many years. With time, we tend to form a strong conviction that they are our best friends and we can’t live without them. Some might reach a point where spending more time with them is more important and more valuable than spending time with their loved ones i.e. their families.
With your close friends, you will be more than happy to spend time, effort, and money willingly. You will also be willing to support your friends when they are in need and whenever they turn to you. You will be very honest with your opinion and advice and you will tell them the truth no matter what.
If you don’t feel like talking and just want to hangout silently, it won’t feel awkward at all. If you’ve been away from each other for some time and reconnect after an extended period of time, it would feel as if you both met yesterday.
As a true friend, you will stop your friend from causing any harm to himself or others. You won’t end your friendship easily if you fight with each other but even if you fought, you will keep all the shared secrets to yourself and won’t use them against your friend.
True friends will empathize with you. This is a very important trait. Not only they will feel you but will also do whatever they can to make things better for you. Empathizing to me also means giving you undivided attention because it’s all about you in your situation. It won’t be about you and them. Friends who can make the distinction here are true friends.
True friends are not hypocrites, not jealous, not envious, not deceivers, not cheaters, not betrayers, not thieves, not liars, not exploiters, not selfish, not ruthless, not back stabbers, not bad influencers, not inconsiderate, not manipulative, not harmful, not unavailable, not insincere, won’t throw you under the bus, and in brief, not toxic.
When True Friends Aren’t Really True
There are clear signs that, if you really pay attention, will tell you if your friendship with this person is toxic or not. Many friends will show the best in them when they are with you. They hide their intentions, and some people are really good at that, or maybe you are very trusting and very kind you won’t see that.
Life experiences will definitely teach you lessons the hard way but that what makes you stronger. No matter how educated or sophisticated people can be, when it comes to relationships, most people just get blind. However, the more you learn what to expect from real friends or any relationship, the better and quicker your decision is whether to continue the relationship or end it and just move on.
It’s very true that any relationship of any kind entails mutual benefits whether it’s psychological, physical, or materialistic. Any relationship, including friendship, is a give and take, remember that. If you are giving and the other one is taking, just get out of it.
One very obvious sign that you are having true friends, or not, is when they are there for you when you are going through tough times. The ultimate true friendship is when they don’t make you feel you are indebted to them. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a give and take relationship and should happen naturally without feeling compelled or pressurized to return the favor the same way.
I list below some examples most people went through with their so called true friends:
- You told your close friend, out of joy and excitement, that the senior management is considering promoting you to be the head of the department. S/he congratulated you warmly but a week later, the promotion went to your close friend instead.==> back stabbing, hypocrisy, envious and jealousy.
- You’ve been looking for work for few months. You turned to your close friends, other friends, and ex-colleagues, who you helped all before, for help especially that they all work for prestigious organizations and already have connections. One or two out of your friends’ circle offered to help you. The rest either gave you all the excuses in the world or decided not to return your calls or messages ==> unavailable, insincere, liars, and exploiters.
- You are in a meeting at work with a close friend. In the meeting, the senior manager heated at your friend for not achieving the specified target on time but your friend decided to mention that you too did not submit a project on time turning the heat towards you ==> throwing you under the bus, harmful, and selfish.
- You and a close friend are in separate groups working on an MBA project. You came up with clever and unique ideas and you shared them with your close friend but your friend was faster to inform the supervising professor that the ideas are all his/her to get all the credit and be considered for future opportunities ==>manipulative, thief, hypocrite, and exploiter.
- God deprived you of marriage and children. Whenever your close friend is around, s/he constantly brags about how much they are happy with their spouse and how lucky they are to have children who are giving them joy every day ==> inconsiderate, insensitive, and heartless.
P.s. When God deprives anyone of anything in life, it’s a blessing.
- When you are depressed and feel pain and sorrow, you need your friend just to talk and let it out but your friend decides it’s not only about you, they too have problems and want to talk about them and you must listen. Eventually, you end up not talking but listening ==> selfish and inconsiderate.
- When you and your friends are alone, you have the best conversation but when others join you, your close friend starts making fun of you, degrading you and putting you down so that you don’t shine ==> envious, jealous, selfish, and psychopath.
- Your friend asked to borrow something from you and you let them. They asked again and you let them. Then they don’t ask, they order you, or take whatever they desire without your permission, and if you say no, you are the worst friend ever ==> exploiter, manipulative, and selfish.
- You had an argument with another friend or your boss or your husband or wife. You are sharing it with your friend. Your friend, instead of alleviating the situation and advising you how to solve it amicably, is actually advising you to put more fuel to the fire and escalate it causing you more distress ==> bad influencer and harmful.
- Your friend wants you to be available for them whenever they demand that. They expect you to be on standby anytime and you must cancel any arrangement you have to be available for them only ==> selfish and inconsiderate.
- Your friend did you a favor once but they are after you to do them this huge favor that is beyond your control, reach, and capabilities and they keep reminding you of how they helped you before and make you feel compelled and under pressure to return the favor the way they want it ==> manipulative, exploiters, selfish and harmful.
- You have a friend who wants to know every single detail in your life and ask all sorts of questions but when you ask them the same questions, they tell you nothing ==> harmful, manipulative and psychopaths.
- A common example that is widely known and infamous is when your best friend steals your spouse from you and destroy your family. I know it takes two to tango but s/he is part of the deception ==> cheater, deceiver, liar, back stabber, and selfish.
- Another common example is when your close friend tempts you or forces you to try bad stuff for your health and well-being like drugs and other bad behaviors ==> bad influencers, indifferent, and ruthless.
- Other examples include talking behind your back in a bad way, sharing your secrets with other people, judging you without knowing the facts, they ditch you if something else more interesting comes up, they criticize you always, and they are moaners and complainers and suck your energy for nothing.
Get Rid of Toxic Friends
If you have friends who have the above traits, don’t waste time and just get rid of them. Better to be alone for some time than being around toxic people. You will have new friends eventually and life goes on.
Since I’m writing mainly on higher education, I thought I’d give students some tips and some pieces of advice on friendship to help them when they first start college. For students heading abroad to study, I also recommend reading my article on What You Need To Know Before You Head Abroad.
I would love to get your feedback so please leave me a comment.