Make sure your definition of friendship matches those of whom you call “friend”

Posted: June 24, 2014 in Life
Tags: , , , , , ,

evil.friend  Friendship is a powerful word but it’s one that means different things to different people. I discovered this at the very moment when someone who I thought of as a friend showed me just how differently he and I defined that ten-letter word.

It happened during the lowest time in my life. People who thought they knew me thought they knew what I was going through, but I hardly let on how bad things really were. I received some very bad news one particular night and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I became overloaded with emotions and needed to unload my problems onto somebody, anybody who would just take a minute to tell me that I was a good person and that everything would work out in the end. In my time of need, I reached out to a “friend.”

In doing so, I committed the gravest of social errors.

He was quick to scold me for burdening him with information he didn’t ask for nor wanted. And he was nasty about it, too. Like a jungle snake hiding in the thickets, he sprang, sinking sharpened fangs deeply into my exposed flesh. He released his venom into my veins as cold, reptilian eyes fed upon the pain caused by his vicious words. He was every bit as demeaning as a self-righteous parent imperiously lording over an errant child. Everything inside me was screaming, “Stand up for yourself!” but I froze instead. I accepted my metaphorical whipping with a bowed head and downcast gaze.

I’m sure you would never let someone talk to you like that. I allowed it, however, because I knew he was right… somewhat. Having my verbal diarrhea dumped upon him the moment he walked through the door was the last thing he expected to hear when he came over. But looking back upon it, he also took a gigantic shit upon my head! This was the same “friend” who regularly shared deeply personal things about himself and never once did I seek it. Instead, I listened and gave advice when and where I could. That’s what friends are for, right?

I’m not proud to admit that I remained friends with this person for years after the incident. And he reminded me of the differences in how we defined “friendship,” as well. I let every slight pile atop my silent and long-festering resentment until I finally initiated a parting of the ways. There’s was no cinematic revenge moment, no grandiloquent speech … I simply clicked my mouse and un-friended him, a “breakup” of sorts in the social media age. My consolation is that this experience taught me much, and I’ve since handled similar situations more assertively.

So, if you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, troubled by something that happened with someone you know, try to recall this little cautionary tale. Ask yourself what are the qualities that you look for in a friend. Do you live up to them? Do they?

*Featured artwork by Steven Michael Pace of Flint, MI.

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Comments
  1. I think that this paradigm exists in most relationships whether they are platonic, romantic or business. No two people have the same set of rules or expectations when it comes to the relationship. We all think we know what it means to be a friend or a spouse or coworkers but if you ask people to list 5 qualities you expect from a relationship, there will be differences. Even when they say something that sounds the same..everyone has their own unique definition of terms. Like spending time together…no couple will ever agree on what that means. Fair share of work – coworkers will have a different idea of what fair means. Same with friendships.

    I think that people should be more communicative about what they want out of the relationship and what they are willing to give…then figure out of you want to move forward with them as friends or whatever

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