Friends: Love them or leave them

“In your entire life, you can probably count your true friends on one hand. Maybe even on one finger.”
– Sarah Ockler

Friendship is truly a beautiful concept. It’s a unique kind of relationship. Unlike family relationships, friendships are not innate. Think about your first encounter with someone who you now consider a good friend. I guarantee it was unplanned, because friendships just happen. When I friended my college suitemate (not on Facebook, but in the flesh), it was totally random. The two of us, along with eight other young women, lived in a five-bedroom suite during our freshman year of college. In the first or second week of group-habitation, I “borrowed” her razor (it was not used). Shortly after, she confronted me, we got to talking, and that’s all she wrote!  We’ve been dear friends for ten years, and hopefully for life.

Friendships also differ from romantic relationships because of contrasting expectations. Perhaps, you want a significant other to call you every night, and you feel sulky if you don’t get a call. What if he/she doesn’t like me anymore? We had plans. Will I see him/her?  On the other hand, you may hope for a quick call from your best friend, but if you don’t get one, you know you’re going to see them anyway. I’ll see them on Saturday. He/she will probably call me back at 1:00 AM like they always do. 

In a perfect world, the trinity of personal relationships- family, romantic, and friend would interface harmoniously making life an obstacle-free course, adorned with butterflies and cotton-candy clouds… but the world ain’t perfect. In reflecting on my trinity of personal relationships, without question, my family is my pride and joy. They have my back and that’s set in stone. When it comes to romantic relationship status, let’s just say I am loved, and it’s proven more and more each day. The friend arena? [Sighs], it’s been extremely eye opening. This year, I’ve found brand new friends and resurrected old ones, which has been highly rewarding. I’ve also experienced friend degeneration, even in cases where my consistency has not wavered.

Here’s a hypothetical situation:

After many sleepless nights, multiple presentations, and non-stop networking, Lisa lands the promotion of her dreams. She’s now the Vice President of ABC, Inc. The minute Lisa gets the news, she calls Barbara, her best friend. Barbara says “Yay, that’s great…. can I call you back?” Lisa expected a little more excitement, but she knows Barbara just got out of a bad relationship and she’s in between jobs. Lisa understands and downplays the promotion, because she knows Barbara is having a tough time. 

A month passes, and Lisa is receiving good news left and right. After her promotion, she learned that ABC, Inc. is sending her to Thailand to lead a major business deal. Just before the trip, her kitchen catches on fire. Kitchen repairs will cost $4,000! It’s a major inconvenience. Barbara’s situation has seemingly improved- so Lisa calls her, hoping for some reassurance. When Barbara hears of Lisa’s kitchen disaster, her response is “You make enough to hire a repairman. Aren’t you going to Thailand? Why are you complaining?” 

After a two week business adventure in Thailand, Lisa has been busy, but not unavailable. Lisa called Barbara a couple of times, but she hasn’t heard back. Lisa’s kind of bummed thinking Barbara would want to hear all about Thailand, plus her birthday is coming up.  Another two weeks go by, and not a single call has been returned. To add insult to injury, Lisa see’s photos from Barbara’s birthday party on Facebook, and she didn’t get an invitation. Lisa would reach out again, but what’s the point? 

Let’s be honest, the Barbaras of the world are incapable of real friendship. Real friends are not wet blankets when it comes to your accomplishments.  Real friends should be 100% happy for you, not 75%. Most importantly, real friends don’t mock you when the chips are down and they have enough respect for you to include you in their life’s events. Maybe, Barbara is unhappy with herself, which is unfortunate, but that’s not really Lisa’s problem. Like Lisa, I had to come to that realization.

Fact: You can’t make people happy with themselves. If someone isn’t happy in their life, it’s unlikely that they will be happy for you.