Stories, songs, poems on friendship abound. From among all these, many similar characteristics make the cut as requirements in determining what a good friend is:
- Can be trusted
- Respects you
- Defends you
- Listens with both the heart and mind
- Makes you happy
In an ideal (and surreal) world, you want friends to be part of your life’s adventure, celebrate good times with, and lend a shoulder to cry on when things go wrong. It warms the heart when friends say they will be there through good and bad times. It’s absolutely lovelier when they actually do. But what if there are gray areas they’d rather just let slide, pretend did not happen, and not talk about? What if you were always made to guess and worry that there might be something wrong? What if you were already heading towards a downward spiral but they were too afraid to tell you?
Flaccid. That’s what I call them. Temporarily making you smile on one occasion or another, they make you their go-to person when they need someone to spend moments with or get something from. Maybe because it’s convenient, maybe it’s inevitable, maybe it’s just who they are. Still, it makes you think you are important and cared for, but inconsistently.
How do you determine who’s flaccid? Situations will tell you. A flaccid friend:
Won’t give objective advice
They won’t tell you what you want to hear but what you need to hear. From as simple as telling you not to wear that shirt again because it makes you look tacky to telling you the person you consider a great enemy actually has a point. They’re not afraid you’ll get offended and risk losing the friendship when your faults are pointed out.
Won’t tolerate your idiosyncrasies with warning
Trivial matters need not be cause for arguing lengthily. They would know why you do silly or distasteful things and just let you be like eating slowly, posting excessive photos online, or always being late. But they’d sure be on guard in case you go too far.
Can’t get past jealousies and drama
Admit it or not; successes, riches, talents, and beauty hinder a friend from sincerely being happy for you and supporting you. You can tell when a person is genuinely congratulating you and when he/she is merely saying it because he/she should — while wondering why he/she can’t get or have what you have.
Some other people, too, can’t seem to separate their lives’ usually sad stories from yours that they always see things from that point of view. If their relationship went haywire and they see similarities in your budding love life; they tell you to stop, fearing it would happen to you, too. They forget that you’re your own person and not see that there are much more differences if you look closely. It’s like having a second mother or father telling you not to do this or that because this was what happened during their time. But parents usually do that for the right reasons.
Doesn’t admit faults and sins
One true testament that they’d fight for the friendship is to not let dishonesty ruin it, especially if the problem came from their side. And they do so as soon as possible. If they lied to you, told someone your secret or said things about you, flirted with your partner, etcetera; and had the balls to tell you, that shows that they respect you enough to not go on fooling you.
Talks about you, not TO you
Respect comes with trust and trust comes with privacy. Whether they see you everyday (even if it’s just online) or once a year, confidential information is confidential information. When you come across someone who tells you the drama he/she knows of all of his/her own friends, what makes you think you won’t be the next lead character in his/her story?
Takes sides with the person, not the reason
One can suddenly find himself/herself in a very awkward position when two of his/her friends are not in good terms. What could make it worse is when he/she chooses sides or when either side is immature enough to force you to pick a side. One test of friendship is when they side with reason, not with the person. Instead of igniting the fight or meddling (like what small people conveniently call it), they bring light to the confusion or misunderstanding. The worst effect, though, is when either party is too stubborn to even listen to reason that those mediating become the next enemy.
I’m certain there are more ways to determine who’s worth sticking your guns to, but ultimately, a good friendship is as good when you can sit down together, drink coffee, and not talk as when you butt heads because it is necessary. Intellectuals call it being pragmatic but, really, it is only when you love someone so much that you exert effort, spend time, and use your energies to correct, confront, admit, and argue; while enjoying the perks of having found your partner in crime.
Just a piece of unsolicited advice: if you find that you have flaccid friends, take some time off and analyze why you’d still want to continue being friends with them (or maybe you’re their flaccid friend, too?). Start prioritizing those that really matter – friends that have actually made you “feel” the friendship (at times, you just “think” they’re your friends) based on actual experience. You might be loading your cupboard with a lot of expired canned goods. Eventually, you’ll have to dispose of these. Before they poison you.