So I’ve been sitting here staring at my computer screen for the last half an hour trying to pinpoint what I want to say about friendship. It’s a difficult topic to broach because people by their very nature are generally quite sensitive when it comes to talking about relationships of any kind. Some might think what I am about to say is totally immature or even plain childish. However, I believe that anyone who values friendship and the importance of having close supportive friends may understand what I’m going on about.
I consider myself a loyal friend. However, I’m not quite sure if loyalty is one of my endearing qualities or something that will some day lead to my ultimate downfall. Allow me to explain.
Throughout my life I’ve attended many different schools and lived in different countries so I’ve always been forced to make new friends. I’ve met many different personalities along the way. One type of personality I’ve come across is the person who is “best friends” with everyone under the sun. They treat everybody equally. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been friends for years and you treat them better than everyone else – she will still treat you just the same as the friend she met last week even if that person is your sworn enemy. Their trademark trait is sitting on the fence. I find myself struggling with this type of personality the most. I call them the ‘people pleasers’ or the ‘non-reciprocators’.
Then there are the ‘promisers’ – the unreliable ones. When you’re with them you can have a blast, and usually do. They’re fun to hang around with and will genuinely support you. But when push comes to shove, and you find yourself waiting or depending on them, more often than not they will let you down. They promise you the world but then never follow through – hence the name. With promisers you have to be prepared to be disappointed. Repeatedly.
And finally the ‘two-faced’. I think the title is self-explanatory. With this personality it is just so hard to gauge what is the real deal and what is not.
I have struggled with all these personalities at one point in time or another and I believe the reason why stems from the fact that I require reciprocation of my loyalty. When I was younger I dealt with these personalities badly as I don’t handle disappointment well. I require validation in the sense that I expect friends to treat me how I treat them. Needless to say, I gradually drifted away from these friendships. I have now come to the realization that the problem is actually not with them. The problem lies with me.
Lessons I’ve learnt along the way:
#1. Know where you stand
It is important to know your place in a friendship / relationship to achieve some sort of balance. For example, there were times when I believed that as a friend I had so much more to give and so much more to offer but yet wondered why my friend would treat the girl next door the same way she treats me. Clearly she could not have as much to offer and give as me?? You’re probably thinking it’s because I was just a little bit crazy, and reading this back now I would tend to agree with you. Haha.
The truth of the matter is, we all have different personalities and we can’t help the fact that some friends will inevitably click better with other people because they just might have more in common. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they value you any less. People pleasers will always tend to click with everyone. Plus, who am I to say that the girl next door can’t give or offer as much as I do? In the past, I would probably distance myself from people pleasers to the point where we would just fall out of contact. However, that is obviously not the right thing to do.
These days, to cope with these situations better I just take them down a notch or two on my friendship scale because knowing where I stand, I can then adjust my own expectations. I call it downgrading. Which leads me on to point number 2.
#2. Don’t impose your own expectations and standards on others
Everyone you meet will have their own set of standards, and they almost always will be different to your own.
Just because you would put in a huge effort to fly to your friends’ overseas wedding doesn’t necessarily mean you can expect them to do the same for you.
Just because you would spend a whole week planning a party and a shit load of money on food doesn’t make eating Woolworths frozen pizza at your friend’s house any less acceptable.
Just because you would help the ‘promiser’ in their time of need doesn’t mean that you should expect help from them down the track.
Everyone has their own set of standards as to what they would be willing to do for their friends, and you also have to remember that at different points in life, circumstances will operate to either facilitate or debilitate what they can or can’t do for their friends.
Do things because you want to do them, because that’s who you are, and not because you expect others would do the same for you. Don’t expect others to live up to your expectations and standards. Perhaps I’ve become a glass half empty kind of person, but if you can’t live with disappointment then try lowering your standards or be more selective in who you do things for. Do whatever makes you happy. Stop the things that don’t because life is too short. No one is pointing a gun at you.
#3. Don’t fight your friends’ battles
Time and time again I make the mistake of fighting my friends’ battles because it comes so natural to me. If my friend told me that she’d had a falling out with someone, I would automatically stop talking to that other person regardless of whether my friend was in the right or wrong. This is possibly one of the silliest things I could do especially when it comes to the ‘two-faced’ personalities. Don’t they teach us to be objective in law school? Because the next thing you’ll know, your friend will have reconciled with the other person and you’ll be the one left carrying the bucket when it had absolutely nothing to do with you in the first place.
I no longer fight anyone’s battles and this is probably one of the best lessons I’ve learnt. Too bad I learnt it a little late.
After a while you will learn to take the good with the bad. Everyone has their own set of qualities and shortcomings, including myself. It is not right and not fair to impose my own set of standards on how my friends should act or what they should do. It is much easier to change myself.