Many people around the world have tried their hand in writing about friendship, some certainly being more successful than others.
In the early 2000s, when sending e-cards was still quite popular, I received a most heartfelt greeting from my best buddy that I put in the title of this article.
In the age of global interconnectedness and fast-flowing information, we use convenient tags to outline our friends’ list.
And yet, all of these are dwarfed by the metaphor in the title of this article, for it conveys so much meaning in just six simple words.
Of course, this isn’t the only metaphor defining friendship. The thing is, this one shows the principle of language economy at its finest.
The Abused Phrase: Thank You!
When writing about our friends, most of us tend to use the words ‘Thank you’ so much that they practically abuse them.
In a three-minute read I came across recently, the author thanks her best friend for one thing or another no less than twelve times. If you just try to put yourself in the shoes of that friend, you’d probably be touched by the first three thank-yous, the next three may get your heart melting, but from the seventh thank-you onwards you’d probably start feeling a bit uneasy.
Instead of abusing the poor thank-you, why don’t we just try to show our appreciation of those around us every day? For one thing, this strategy is far more practical and effective, I think. A few good deeds oftentimes tell more than a thousand words, especially if they come at the right time.
Friends For Life
Many people maintain friendships so that they always have a shoulder to cry on, or someone to call in the middle of the night and share their worries or fears with.
For me, however, your true friends are those, whose company you enjoy even in complete silence.
And if this silence does not create in you a sense of incompleteness or uneasiness, then maybe that person is your friend for life.
So, why don’t you try the silence test the next time you hang out with your best friend. You may be surprised at the results!
Friend or Foe?
You may not know much about Roman history, and neither do I. Yet, the fact that Brutus was one of Caesar’s best friends, and yet did not hesitate to soak his hands in the latter’s blood tells a lot about friendship. Just think of how easy the ones close to you can become your fiercest foes!
I am not saying that you should regard all of your friends with suspicion and distrust, but you certainly should be watching out for the early signs of poisonous or suffocating friendships. Here are some of the tell-tale signs of that a friendship is doing you more harm than good.
The Controlling Friend
This one is particularly annoying. He or she is always trying to be in control of your life, as he/she is firmly convinced of that you are genuinely incapable of taking care of yourself.
This type of friend wants to know where you are, what you are doing and who you are with at any given time of the day or night.
Tip: If you want to keep this friend, you have to learn to politely and yet firmly stand your ground. Set the boundaries of your personal space and do not let them in.
The Demanding Friend
This one sees your friendship as a constant source of benefits. Unfortunately, these are hardly ever mutual. ‘I want you to….’, ‘Hey, I know you are busy, but can you please….?’ – if you hear these lines most of the time when talking to him or her, then you’ve got a demanding friend to deal with.
And if you try to turn their requests down, they start pushing you with phrases such as ‘I thought friends were to help each other?’, ‘Who should I ask for help, if not my best friend?’ etc.
Tip: If you want to keep this friend, try to test your friendship by turning the tables. What i mean to say is that attack is the best defense. Instead of waiting in awe for the telephone to ring or buzz with a message tone, start texting or calling him or her whenever you need any help.
‘I’m cleaning up the house, so I thought you could give me a hand…’, ‘I am having a hard time mowing the loan, so I thought you could lend me your more powerful mower…’, you know where I’m getting.
This type of noxious friend is probably the most dangerous, for they are very hard to read. Remember the thank-you enthusiast I mentioned above? Well, that sort of attitude I am talking about. It’s just weird having a friend who’s throwing cheesy lines at you all the time, isn’t it?!
One of the cheesiest lines of all time is Aerosmith’s “I could stay awake just to hear you breathing…”. Well, that’s my opinion, of course, but if you’ve been hearing a lot of such stuff from your bestie lately, you’d better be careful where things are going.
Tip: Run! This is the best tip I can give you about that type of noxious friend. Their mask of flattery and sweet-talking may be hiding a deeply-disturbed personality, even a sheer psychopath!
Is True Friendship A White Whale?
Pessimists will usually try to convince you in that there isn’t such a thing as ‘true friendship’ or ‘lifelong friendship’.
Perhaps their pessimism stems from the fact that they take their friends for granted while they shouldn’t, really.
Coming back to your friends’ list I mentioned earlier, you’ve got to decide which friends you want to keep and which to let go. At the end of the day your list of buddies may turn out to be completely empty.
Sorry?! Why should you be sorry? Maybe for all the compromises and efforts you’ve made to keep a close a bunch of foes posing as your friends. Better say ‘Good riddance!’ and move on.