The Unreliable Guide To… Friends
Recent events have reminded The Unreliable Guide of Euripides’s quote, “Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.” Being a fairly wise bloke, he also realised that, “One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.”
Friends – as Joey, Phoebe, Chandler and Co. will attest – claim, “I’ll be there for you,” but there’s much more to friendship than that. Anaïs Nin suggests, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” In other words, you will never know who you could be unless you make the right friends.
Having friends has been shown to improve mental and physical health, but how many friends should we have and what makes a friend worth having? The Unreliable Guide is here with some tips and tricks on how to find and keep good friends.
Old Friends vs New Friends
Old friends can be great, they remember all the old times, but that might leave you in a rut if they expect you to be the same person you were ten years ago. Good friends grow with you, but you can outgrow a friendship. If your mate is still insisting you slam shotties in the Cross at 3am and you’d rather be at home in your jim jams it might be time to move on to a new friend that shares your love of Bonsai topiary or synchronised swimming.
What Makes a Friend a Best Friend?
But if you change, do you have to lose your old friends? Not necessarily. Elisabeth Foley suggests, “The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” So what is a true, or best friend? It’s been said that a best friend is the type of person who will help you move a dead body, no questions asked, but this criterion is somewhat limited. A best friend is someone with whom you can be your uncensored self and they still love you. A best friend reminds you of your best self when you are feeling your worst. A best friend is always happy to see you, but understands when you are busy. And a true best friend is someone for whom you do all these things too. Reciprocity is the name of the game.
What is a Toxic Friend?
The key to true friendship, reciprocity, is often exactly what is missing with a toxic friend. A toxic friend expects everything and gives little. They expect absolute forgiveness from you yet have no tolerance for your own mistakes or shortcomings. Their focus is always on themselves; they’ll talk at length about their own problems but grow tired after five minutes listening to yours. Instead of bringing out the best in you, they bring out the worst and then bitch about you to others. Sometimes they’re so rude you have to apologise for them. Sound familiar? Clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior suggests that a friendship is toxic if it “emotionally harms you, rather than helping you.” Cull these so-called ‘friends’ from your life.
Finally, The Unreliable Guide suggests you probably only need two really good friends; quality is far more important than quantity. Take a moment to consider your friends, do you bring out the best in each other? Is seeing them always a delight? If not, it might be time to start culling.