Someone once said: God could not be everywhere, so he created friends. Perhaps. But are you a good friend? Are you too crabby all the time? Are you a bad listener? Is your friendship lopsided? Are you forever high on expectations? Have lies, deceit and mistrust found a corner in your friendship? Are you the stupid friend?
1. Are you a bad listener?
She (let’s call her Miss A) is forever prattling her own stories – of the crabby boss, the lumpen colleague, the handsome boyfriend, the romantic dinner, the new dress she picked in Bangkok, the burgundy streak in her hair… Miss A is the ultimate motor-mouth friend. Her friend never gets to speak a syllable, for she, the motor-mouth, is full of herself. When her friend wants to talk about her heartbreak, wants to seek solace on a lonely day, or discuss the new job offer, Miss A rarely lends an ear. When she does, she is too impatient to hear a long story; she cuts her friend short and begins a new story about herself. Miss A forgets that God gave us two ears and a mouth for a reason. He wants us to listen. Friends are meant to be good listeners. Miss A certainly is a bad friend.
2. Forgot to forgive?
To err is human. Thus begins an old adage. Sounds clichéd? Well, sometimes clichés can save a friendship. That evening your friend spat anger at you and you are still raging about it. You hate her for all the nasty things she said and want to break the long friendship over her bout of anger. Well, anger hurts, especially if it comes from a friend you love so much. But take a deep breath and look back at that bad evening. Maybe your friend had a heartbreak, a bad day at work; perhaps she was depressed over something, worried about her future… Or, it was just a bad hair day. Anger finds a thousand alibis, but you are her only friend. Forgive her anger. Try to understand. Think of the day when you might have a bad hair day and got angry. Wouldn’t it be awful if your friend sulked forever about it? Love might be about never ever having to be able to say sorry, but friendship is about forgiveness.
3. Thought a friend is an alter ego?
You are stupid if you think your friend is your alter ego. She is a friend, but she is another individual with her own distinct thoughts, desires, definitions, pet peeves and passions. Remember, she is not you. You are two different individuals who have met at the crossroads and decided to walk the path named Friendship. If you want your friend to be a mirror image of your Being, you are wrong. If you are trying to chisel your friend into your own image, you are being unjust to your friend and to your friendship. Friends help each other to become better persons, not mirror images or alter egos.
4. Is the friendship lopsided?
She is the one who picks up the phone and calls. She is the one who pays the bill at the restaurant. She takes you out for a drink and always picks up the tab. She sends flowers on your birthday, a get well soon card when you are ill; on each of her trips abroad, she picks up gifts for you. Between the two of you, she is the perennial Giver, you the chronic Receiver. Such friendships are absolutely lopsided and often come with a quick expiry date. In a friendship, you do your bit as well. Do not let it get too lopsided for comfort. Trust me, lopsided friendships do not last long.
5. High on expectations?
Miss A is forever friendless. Not that she is mean, nasty or a parasite of a friend. On the contrary, she is pretty quick with making friends; she does her bit in a friendship. She can easily pass off as a good friend. But her friendship meter is flawed: She has very high expectations from her friends. She wants them to be at her beck and call. She hates to hear a no for a coffee-out even if the friend is stuck at work. Miss A expects her friends to do exactly what she wants. She hates it when her friend disagrees; she loathes the idea of her friend saying no to any of her plans. No surprise, Miss A is forever friendless. Her flaw: she is too high on expectations.
6. Are you the jealous friend?
Whoever said that birds of the same feather flock together, might not have heard of friendships between two opposites. Miss A has a friend who is her absolute antithesis, yet, they get along like a house on fire. They can spend hours in a pub, have long conversations over a cup of coffee, they have been there for each other even on a rainy day. However, Miss A is not the perfect friend, she packs tonnes of jealousy within herself. Every time her friend gets lauded at work, or is complimented about her lovely tresses, Miss A goes green with envy. She hates it when her friend steals the show – and the guys – at the party. Miss A is a good friend, but in her heart, she is very jealous of her friend’s success. Jealousy can corrode a friendship; do not let it divide real friends.
7. Too busy for friends?
Miss A puts in long hours at work. Back home, she runs errands, cooks, cleans and spends hours watching her fave television shows. If she could, she would stretch 24 hours to a mighty 48 hours, so that she could do everything at her pace. Yes, she is busy and unfortunately has no time for her friends. When a friend called her in an emergency, she quickly cooked up an excuse. When her friends wanted her to join on a holiday, she said a curt no. Miss A is busy and has no time for friends. She has forgotten that even her busiest friends found time for her when she was in distress. When it is her time to reach out, “I am busy’ becomes her oft-repeated excuse. True, we all lead busy lives, but in between find a little time for friends. Never get too busy for them!
8. Patience is the keyword:
Patience might sound like an old world, obsolete virtue, but, remember most friendships run on this old world virtue. Sure, none of us pack the patience of the Biblical Job, but impatience would never take us too far. Certainly not in a friendship. If you have found a new friend, give your friendship some time to grow, mature. Be patient, your friend might take longer than expected to understand, know you. In old friendships, patience works as the binding factor. If your friend did not answer your phone call, do not make 20 quick calls. If she has not replied to your email, do not send her a nasty one-liner. Be patient. She is not ignoring you or taking you for granted, perhaps she has a genuine reason for the delay. My friend, Patience is the keyword.
9. Lies, deceit & mistrust:
She invited you for coffee. You did not want to step out, so you lied about mommy being unwell. She confided her secrets, she trusted you with all that she held close to her heart. But you broke her trust and blabbered her secret to common friends. On her face, you always said nice things to her, praised her, and told her how much she meant to you. But you often stabbed her in the back – you often make fun of her when she is not there. She trusts you blindly, but you have no qualms about the lies and deceit. For you, friendship is just another pastime, your friend just another plaything. Lies, deceit and mistrust can smother a friendship. Never lie, deceive or break your friend’s trust. In a friendship, they are the biggest sins.
10. Are you too critical?
You could pass off as a judge because you are forever sitting in judgment about everyone, everything around you. Including your friend. Given, the friend has her own follies, her own whims and eccentricities. But does that give you the right to be too critical, too judgmental all the time? No. If you so hate everything about the friend, take a hard look at your friendship. Perhaps you two do not vibe as a friend. It can happen. But if you call someone a friend, do not sit in judgment all the time. No, you do not have to say yes/applaud everything that the friend does. Remember, there is a thin line between being objective and being critical.
Preeti Verma Lal
Visual Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/iloveblue/