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.