A Friend is as a Friend Does

Connections are the main purpose of life.  They give it meaning and value.  When we connect, we experience love and belonging.  We are fulfilled and content.

 We connect for different reasons and to different depths.  What we hope for is friendships that last.  What we get is a mixed bag.  Below are a few of types of friendships we encounter over our lifetime.  Some of them we want and others we don’t.

  • Real Deal: The Real Deal is a person you can trust and count on.  This person sees you for all your strengths and flaws.  They are your biggest champion, your confidant, and your battle buddy.  This is someone that speaks their mind and gives you nothing but the truth.  They also let you recover from your mistakes and bad choices.  It’s not that they don’t think you deserve consequences…they just don’t judge you harshly and condemn you for the behavior.  They also don’t hold grudges against you.
  • Copy Cat: They emulate you.  They start doing what you do and even begin to look like you.  These folks have poor ego strength.  They don't quite know who they are or aren't comfortable with themselves.  They see you and think you're pretty awesome and want to be you.  So, they try.  This type of person can be exhausting.
  •  Play Pretend: These friends aren’t really your friends.  They see you as someone to use for either social advancement or something you can do for, or give, them.  They may use you to get closer to your good friends or gain stability in a social circle.  Once they get what they want…you become disposable.
  • Just The Crust: We all have friends that are more like acquaintances.  These friends never quite enter your inner circle, but there’s no real reason they don’t.  There’s nothing wrong with them…they aren’t malicious.  Some of them are actually pretty great people.  They just aren’t your closest friends.  You may talk to these people and even hang out with them regularly, but conversations stay surface level.  These people add color to your life even if they aren’t one of your best buddies.
  • Organically Grown: These are the unicorns of friends.  You’ve met a couple of these people and it’s like you’ve known them forever.  There’s no awkward getting to know one another stage and you can never see your life without them.  Whether you’ve been friends for nine days, nine months, or nineteen years…it’s all the same.  Count yourself lucky if you’ve met even one person like this as they don't come along all that often.
  •  Bull Dog: This friend is a straight up bully.  They try to tell you what to do and what not to do. They want to dictate whom you date, hang out with, and how you spend your time and money.  They generally want to be the boss of you and be in the “know” about whatever you’re up doing.  They also broadcast how important they are to you to anyone that will listen. 
  • Parents and Children: This type of friend generally wants to assume a role in your life.  This role is either as your parent or your child.  To take care of you or to be taken care of by you.  They don’t know how to be your equal. This type of friend is also exhausting.
  • One Upper: We all know this person.  They are always right and they are always the best.  They can never let you be in the spotlight.  Their insecurity won’t allow it.  Their excessive boasting and attention seeking comes from feeling less than.  Unfortunately, they use you to try to feel better, but it’s never enough.  They will always be insecure and they will continue to one-up you.  Trust me, your sanity and self-esteem is much better off without this person.

Quality of friendship is more important than quantity.  Those that drain you need to be cut loose.  No friends are better than bad ones.  Those that feed and grow your spirit should be held close.  Surround yourself with only those that deserve you and work to be a good friend to them.

By Delicia Mclean, Ph.D., MHA