It’s Nice To Know Who My Real Friends Are

Raised in a fairly dysfunctional environment, I have a difficult time discerning true friendships. I call my husband and another close friend of mine my “social barometers.” When I’m unsure of a behavior, I consult them and they help me to see the truth. (All hail Husband and Kay!)

Even with their wisdom, that doesn’t stop me from obsessing. Kay says that I over analyze things. (She’s right.) I’m always hyper-vigilant when it comes to my own actions. I’m overly concerned with offending someone. I know. Hard to believe, right? When you’re as opinionated as I am, you can see my predicament.

In these hard economic times, another friend of mine, wanting to work from home, started working for one of those pyramid based make-up companies. She turned to all of her friends for contacts, referrals and business. My inbox now receives weekly ads about their products. She’s asked me a number of times to host parties or help her with the sales challenges the company puts forth.

I finally had to, as gently as I could, say “No.”

First of all, I don’t like make-up. I find it to be a necessary evil. In fact, at a time in my life when I probably need it more than ever, I haven’t been wearing any. I’m finally at an age when I am getting comfortable in my own skin. I don’t mind the wrinkles and laugh lines. I call them my “badges of honor.” I’ve earned every one. Sure, I still don’t like my dark circles or the mole on my forehead, but I can live with them. I still pluck my brows and the errant hairs that pop up on my chin or upper lip. I’m not sure I’ll ever consider waxing or threading. Making the time for that seems silly to me.

Mostly, I hate parties where I’m expected to buy something. So, I’m certainly not going to host one. Admit it. When you receive an invitation to a make-up/jewelry/cooking tool/home decor party your gut instinct is to find an excuse not to go. Right?

My friend has, thankfully, backed off.

But then this popped up on her Facebook status:

“It’s nice to know who my real friends are”

Was she speaking to me? To all her other friends who had to gently say “no?” Or did she just have a bad day and a good friend came through in a pinch?

We’ll never know. Because all she provided was a cryptic Facebook message and I’m certainly not going to risk another “party assault” and ask her to clarify.

I realized I needed a cheat sheet. A checklist, to help me sort out the real friends from the less than true:

  • A real friend doesn’t hound you to host parties to extract money from your friends. Free gifts are not enough incentive to tick off what few friends you have.
  • A real friend calls you up when they have something to say, not when it’s their turn to call.
  • A real friend can talk to you in the next hour, the next week, the next few months. It doesn’t matter how much time lapses between communication. You pick up where you are in life.
  • A real friend is never tit-for-tat with anything. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, blog comments, play dates or phone calls. No. Thing.
  • A real friend doesn’t keep score. (Sorry. I had to say it again. It’s that important to me.) 
  • A real friend loves you even when you make a mistake and say something really stupid. And I do mean, really stooopid. 
  • A real friend encourages you, builds you up and picks you up when you fall down.
  • A real friend is honest. To a fault. And that’s okay. Because sometimes we need to hear something a bit uncomfortable. It shakes us up and helps us to be better people.
  • A real friend respects our boundaries.
  • A real friend is loyal and is not afraid to buck the mean girls in the neighborhood when you’re feeling left out of the latest party.
  • A real friend doesn’t disappear or fade away without explanation. (Sadly, I have a few of those. I’m still wondering what I did wrong.)
  • A real friend is like the Fairy Godmother and Baloo (from Jungle Book) and Jiminy Cricket and Dory (from Nemo) all rolled into one. I’m happy to say I have quite a few of those.

True friends, real friends are precious and beautiful and surprisingly, oh-so-rare. Today, I am sending hugs and love and deep-from-the-bottom-of-my-heart thanks to all of you.

If I’ve forgotten anything, feel free to add your own real friend requirements.

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12 Comments

Filed under Coffee Talk, friends

12 responses to “It’s Nice To Know Who My Real Friends Are

  1. A real friend is not one who picks you up and puts you down when they feel like it. And sadly there are too many of those out there! Long time no speak Jane !

  2. I am sorry your “friend” isn’t really one–at least you know, right?

  3. I recognise myself in this and some of the problems that I’ve had too so amen to your list! True friends are amazing but oh so rare. I guess it’s just an important reminder to ourselves to live up to that standard. I wrote a similar list a while back but from the negatives. I think you’ve covered a lot of the key ones. :)

    (http://idiosyncraticeye.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/real-friends-dont/)

  4. Great list (and oh, so true, too)! I have a friend who is all about selling Scensy and she has tapped me out. Seriously, I can’t buy anymore. I have bought and bought until is no room, relative or friend left who doesn’t enjoy their Scensy warmer. Two weeks ago she sent me an email about hosting another party. I said no. Funny, she hasn’t called, texted or emailed since then. Hmmm.

  5. I’m sure I’ve failed as a friend many times. I don’t think I could ever live up to that list of yours. I screw up too often, that’s probably why I don’t have many real friends. I don’t have a Facebook account and every time I read about other people’s I know why … I couldn’t handle it!

  6. A real friend does not make your stories all about her.
    A real friend sometimes does, even when you tell her not to. But she knows which of the “no thank you”s to ignore and which to respect.
    A real friend asks.

  7. I agree with your list in spirit, but in a way I agree with llcooljoe – if you hold people to such strict standards it might be hard to feel like anyone is a true friend. I know there are times when I have kept score, in a way, not because I think friendship should be about scorekeeping, but because when my self-esteem is low I have trouble believing people do sincerely want to be my friend, and I start scanning events to see if I”m being a sucker – I hate feeling like a sucker. The truth is, real friends are also real people, and real people screw up and act like bad friends sometimes. If they are real friends, they don’t do it often, and they’re sorry when they do it.

  8. Joe & Allison: I thought my 6th requirement would cover all mistakes — but that’s what I meant. I agree. We all make mistakes. And a real friend forgives. Always.

  9. We are kindred spirits, you and I. I too had a bit of a screwball childhhood and I too look to my husband for ‘what is normal’ advice. I’d like to say that I wouldn’t disappoint you in real life but the sad truth is that I’m notoriously bad at staying in touch with friends (only because I want and *need* time alone). For obvious reasons I’d put ‘pick up where you are in life’ at the top of my wish list for true friends.
    Your Facebooking friend may not have been referring to you at all of course but therein lies the problem with those of us who over-analyse. I must say however that I could never do those party/buying things precisely because I’d worry that I was being a nuisance and pushing friends into buying and supporting me. (…Clearly not a natural saleswoman)!

  10. I want a friend who respects my opinion even if they disagree. We should be able to stand on different sides of something, argue the heck out of it and still be totally OK with that.

    Friends should just be who they are – warts ‘n all. I have a good friend who is ‘the cheap guy’ and a huge womanizer (not a great combination I will grant you). He knows it and tells people outright. Most people think he’s kidding. My wife doesn’t understand why we are friends but the truth is he’s not hiding anything – despite his many faults he’s really one of the most honest people I know. We know where we stand with each other and there’s no posturing. If he asks to borrow money from me he knows I’m most likely to say no, and he’ll be cool with that.
    It’s all the pretense I don’t like – and the people that are “friends” because they want to use you to sell fall right into that camp. Yuk!

  11. I’m right there with you. This is why I don’t have many friends. I keep the ones that are true and the ones that aren’t just fall by the wayside. I don’t have time to play games.

  12. Friendship shouldn’t be based on convenience.
    These days I crave friends that keep it real and aren’t into playing games. I want genuine and authentic voices in my life and sometimes it might mean disagreeing with some of my friends. It’s good to have some amount of conflict in friendships – I think it is a great way to challenge and learn about yourself and your friendship.

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