I was paid what I consider to be a very high compliment. My friend Kim told me that she and I would always be friends because she never had to wonder about my friendship being genuine. I am straightforward and transparent about exactly how I feel and I have no problem approaching the uncomfortable subjects that can sometimes end most friendships. If I have a problem with something you’ve done, I’ll tell you. If I’m not interested in being your friend anymore, you’ll know it. Most of the time I am open to working it out, unless it’s just way past my personal boundaries and I can’t reconcile it.
On the flipside of that, I have absolutely no problem admitting when I’ve made a mistake and I apologize without being prompted. I know when I’ve screwed something up, but I strive to be a good friend, always.
Being a good friend does not mean being a doormat. If you’re a doormat and allow your friends to use, abuse and walk all over you while you sit home feeling resentful, then you are not being a good friend at all. I’ve done that before and it’s no fun for anyone, especially when you’ve had enough and you explode.
How can you be a good friend without being a doormat?
Much of your success and happiness depends on who you choose to be friends with. Choose your friends wisely.
I am fortunate to have learned this lesson just when I needed to. I am starting to pay attention and have finally reaped the reward of knowing what real friendship feels like. For a few years I sat home feeling powerless and could never figure out what I had done wrong when a friendship turned sour. Why did some of my friends treat me so badly? Didn’t I always do what they wanted? Didn’t I always show up and help when they needed me?
As it turns out, the problem wasn’t only the fault of the so-called friend, it was also my problem. I didn’t know when to say no. I could never tell them that I didn’t appreciate being stood up, or left out, insulted to my face or gossiped about when I wasn’t present. As long as you let this kind of treatment continue, you can’t blame the person for doing it.
The problem is that if the person does these things, they really aren’t your friend. Friends don’t treat other friends that badly. If this was okay, then why didn’t you treat them the same way? Why wasn’t this normal for you to do to them? Why didn’t you make fun of their disabilities or embarrass their spouse in front of other friends? Why didn’t you share mean gossip about them or tell them how much other people hated them?
Do you know why you never did these things to your friend?
You never did them because you are a good friend.
It didn’t matter though because the person wiped their feet on you anyway.
My friend Morine shared a wonderful comment with me on another blog post one day and I would like to share that with you here today.
“Oh! Something just came to mind, and I want to share it with you, in hopes that there is a nugget of wisdom in it for you. I remember that it helped me at the time:
One night, 30 or so years ago, when I broke up with a user-putz-lame-brain boyfriend at my usual Friday night foray into a piano bar, a casual friend saw me crying and gestured to me to come sit at his table. Here’s the gist of what he said:
There are two kinds of people in this world: Givers and Takers. Obviously, you are a Giver and your idiot boyfriend is one of the biggest Takers I’ve ever seen. So here’s the thing, and if you think it over, you’ll see the logic. Givers are drawn to Takers — they want to give of themselves because it’s their nature. It gives them joy to make others happy and they’re generous, happy people, in general. Givers find the ideal recipient for their generosity in a Taker. It completes the equation for them. The Taker is jazzed beyond belief to hook up with a Giver. The Taker can sit back and wait for the good stuff to land in his lap, no effort required. So that is the “perfect” equation.
Except it’s not. The PERFECT equation is for a Giver to find a Giver. Now you’re talkin’! That’s what I was so fortunate to have with my man. It’s also why I can count my friends on one hand, with fingers left over. This can apply to partners, work colleagues, family, friends, acquaintances. And while I may have missed out on a good person here and there because I set the bar so high, and I may feel alone more than I’d like, I made the choices I made. I made my bed, so to speak. It’s so, so difficult to find people who aren’t after something from you. We live in a world where “what can you do for me” has become an all too common way of living. Please don’t let cynicism or bitterness creep into your persona. I like you when you’re nice. And I love you when you’re nice.”
Today I have great friends because I have learned how to be a great friend. I have also started curbing my Giver side a bit and tend to hang back more to see if the new friend in my life is a Giver or a Taker, or maybe even a nice balance of both. I don’t always get it right and even now I’m suffering the heartbreak of figuring it all out. I’m still learning to tell the difference, but I will say that I have some truly awesome folks around me these days.
I think that having a more valuable quality of personal connections is much better than having just a massive quantity of people to surround yourself with, that perhaps drown out what’s really going on in your life that you might not like. Besides I like myself and have no problem being alone if it means the other option is to be in a situation that will probably hurt me down the road.
The way you accomplish being a good friend, or even a great friend, is actually pretty simple. There’s no huge mystery to solve. Just by being a friend to the one person in your life that matters the most, can teach you so much about who you need to be to survive this dog eat dog world. That person is you. Love and respect yourself first, so that you are free to love others without prejudice, expectations or agendas.