Saturday, March 07, 2009

Friends: Fair or Foul?

Little kids make friends so easily. It's just not fair. Life for them is simple. One afternoon at the playground on the swings can bond them to another tighter than Superglue. Not fair, as I said. No complications, just the simple joy of another soul to spend a few hours with.

We get older, and we complicate matters. We drag our insecurities and our selfishness into the mix and our prejudices, and we can end up with a mess.

So, on to fair-weather friends. What are they? I had to look this one up to make sure I had the right definition in my head. Those kind of friends are great to have around when life is good. Go to a concert, a movie, water ski, you name it. But if you're going through any a tough time or drama, don't expect their presence or input. Need a room painted? "Oh, sorry. I'm busy that day." Now, I'm not saying a friend should be at another's beck and call. That's sort of unrealistic.

But if there's a pattern developing--if someone constantly bails on you if you need them, wouldn't you wonder if your friendship had a good foundation? Maybe that would be a good time to refine your expectations. I'll get into expecting too much from a friend another time. I've been guilty of this. If you have a fair-weather friend, don't put them on your short list of people to call when you're in a jam.

The opposite type of friend is what I call a foul-weather friend. They're the ones who drain you dry. Their crisis become your crisis. But once they don't need you anymore, you can't find them. They're quick to move on. And then your heart and investment in them are left with nothing. Remember what I said before, about friendship being a time investment. When I'm a friend, I make them a priority, for the good and bad times. These type of friendships are the ones that make me look back wistfully, wondering what happened. And I end up mentally exhausted and literally drained from giving to them. My dear sweet husband and I have had this happen to us, and we've learned a hard lesson. Don't be so quick to jump at their call. Every crisis is not the end of the world, and realize that people can be fickle. Let them learn to stand on their own instead of depending on you to solve their problem.

So, time for a little self-evaluation. Ask yourself, as I ask myself these questions, and evaluate your friendships:

Do I take more than I give?
Do I disappear when times get tough?
Do I expect my friends to drop what they're doing for my latest crisis?
Do I ignore people when I don't "need" anything from them?
Do I only show up for the "fun"?

Remember: "A friend loves at all times." The highest form of love is not self-seeking, but it seeks the best for the other person.

Next: The insecure (gulp) friend and the clueless one.

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