It is true that when times get tough, you learn who your true friends are. It is also true that friends come and go throughout our lives. And sadly, it is sometimes true that someone who you thought was a true friend, turns out not to be. I’ve learned that tough lesson more than once and that, unfortunately, is a lesson that stings no matter how many times you learn it.
So what makes a “true friend”? Well, of course everyone has their own definition of that, and as we grow and learn, that definition can, and frankly should, change. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that my expectations of friendship are too high. But whenever I am told that, I think to myself, “Thank goodness for that!”. I expect a lot from myself as a friend, and I always strive to be the best possible and most loyal friend I can be. I would never want to change that. Why on earth would I want to expect less from a friend than I expect from myself??? That’s like saying “Hi Jane, nice to meet you. I look forward to a disappointing friendship.” That would be ridiculous, right? The idea that one should have low expectations of a friendship, is completely absurd to me. I outright reject that premise.
For me, a true friendship should be a 2-way street, their should be mutual give and take and mutual respect. Now this does not mean that one has to talk to a friend every single day, and that one should expect that. Every friendship is different. Although rare, there are “best friends” that you talk to everyday, and those who find that are very fortunate and should not take that for granted. But there are also those great friendships that endure the test of time and distance. You might go months, or even years without talking, but then when you do, it’s as if no time has passed at all. Those are some of the best friendships I have ever had. Because even though you speak rarely, those friends are there for you when it really counts, and you for them. Regardless of which type of friendship you’re dealing with, the most important factor is that it is balanced.
Now of course even with the best of friendships, like any relationship, there are times when it may be out of balance; times when external factors distract us and steal our energy; times when one might give more than the other and vice versa. A good friendship should allow for those ebbs and flows. We of course all live through the dark times when we may be the one more in need of taking, rather than giving. But when you look at the overall picture, over a span of time, the friendship should be balanced. If you are the one who is constantly making the effort, the one who is calling and following through, and it is not being reciprocated, then that is not a balanced relationship and is not fair to the person who is doing all of the giving. Nor is it healthy or sustainable. At that point you need to ask yourself “Am I more often happy or disappointed in this friendship?” If it is the latter, then give yourself permission to let the friendship go.
And if you do have to let a friendship go, of course it is upsetting, but just know that it is part of life and learning. One must always be true to themselves and respect themselves first and foremost, and if you find that a friendship is becoming more toxic to you than it is beneficial, then it may be time to let it go. And instead of being sad, be grateful. Be grateful that you had the opportunity to learn and grow from that relationship. Because even the worst of friendships are a gift. They have the power to teach us some very important lessons and they also provide us the opportunity to become better people and better friends ourselves. And most importantly of all, be grateful for those friends that have proven themselves to be true. For even if you only have 1 of them, 1 true friendship is far more meaningful and fulfilling than 100 superficial friendships.
This post is dedicated to all of the true friends in my life. You know who you are.