If you have reached this webpage while searching for a dictionary definition of the common term “friend,” I am both deeply sorry and excited to disappoint you. You will not find an academic and universally-agreed-upon explanation of that word here, but you can expect to gather some of my personal Do’s & Don’ts when it comes to friendship. Why am I qualified to preach on this matter? I’m probably not, but I have had a lot of shitty “friends,” I now have some amazing friends, and I’ve been told I’m a damn good friend myself.
Friends don’t have sex with their partner in your bed… and leave behind evidence.
The fact that I even feel it necessary to preach this sentiment is both sad and disturbing. If someone feels comfortable enough to disrespect your space in such an intimate way, imagine what else they can justify doing --- with or without your knowledge.
This is the tailspin my mind went into after finding a used condom in my bed one day. My unassuming self thought I could expect to pull back my sheets after class one day and take a nap in my own clean bed. How foolish of me. When I pulled back my comforter, I found a sausage casing that I know was not being used for food. My “best friend” and roommate at the time giggled and tried to tell me I was overreacting. Her calm explanation that she and her scumbag boyfriend simply couldn’t be expected to climb up to her lofted bed to have sex was even more concerning. Not only was she capable of encroaching into my private spaces --- and in coital ways --- but she lacked even a shred of remorse for her actions. Even if she truly didn’t believe that she had committed a crime of basic disrespect, my feelings of disgust and betrayal should have prompted, at the very least, an apology from her.
If a “friend” disrespects your boundaries in any way, and especially if they don’t feel bad for doing so, they’re not really your friend. Actual friends don’t mistake their comfort with you for a free pass to act like an absolute animal.
Friends don’t agree with everything you say and do.
Not only is this shirking the valuable friendship duty of “calling you out on your shit,” but it’s also incredibly boring. I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of this placating “friendship” role, and it almost always signifies a lack of actual connection. If two people don’t feel secure enough to be fully transparent in sharing their views and feelings, how are they supposed to trust each other? A huge contributing factor to how my friends know they can trust me (& vice-versa) is that I will tell them I think they’re being stupid by having unprotected sex and treating their birth control package like a game of Connect-4. Don’t get me wrong, I want my friends to have all the sex they want, just not in a dangerous way and certainly not in my bed.
We have the ability to be real with each other because we trust that we won’t throw away our friendship over hearing words we don’t want to (but probably need to) hear.
And on that note...
Friends do tell you when you’re being played… but hopefully in a nice way.
One of the downsides to having friends who are beautiful on the outside as well as inside is that other people will also be drawn to them. No, I don’t mean like other potential friends (which you should encourage -- don’t gatekeep your friends!). I’m referring to the predatory people who don’t have good intentions with your friends. Unfortunately, even the most intelligent people can be fooled by players. These characters come in all shapes and sizes, but I’ve found they usually come in the form of hockey players. When a dear friend of mine gushed about a new affair with one of these characters, I knew I was going to have to let her down easy. As a friend, it is part of your duty to slap the reality into them (metaphorically speaking, calm down) when you suspect foul play. If you have a strong feeling that these games are gonna end with your friend being hurt, it’s best to point out the truth. That being said, make sure to pad this blow with some encouragement. Try something like this: “Hey queen! This POS is for sure just trying to use you for your beautiful figure, but you can absolutely find a different POS who will use you for your great personality, too!” At the end of the day, I will always support my friends if they wish to pursue a career as puck bunnies. What I will not support is someone treating my friend like a game they don’t even know they’re playing.
Friends do want to see you succeed… no matter where they’re at in their own journey.
An actual friend wants to see you grow, even if that means moving away. They can, and most likely will, still be sad that you are not as physically close as you once were, but they don’t let that obstacle get in the way of your happiness. A true friend does not get jealous of your success or turn your lives into a competition. Instead, they see that a win for you is a win for them. Not in a social-climbing kind of way, but in a symbiotic, “seeing you happy makes me happy” way. Unfortunately, misery loves company and miserable people want you to be just as unhappy as they are. If you find a “friend” being overly critical about you making moves or taking beneficial risks, consider how stagnant they might be in their own life. If they’re constantly complaining and generally have a negative outlook, well, why are you friends with them in the first place? Just kidding… kinda. When you find yourself hesitant to share good news with them, it’s probably time to level up and let that friendship die. Too harsh? How about this one...
Friends do talk shit about you to your face… but not behind your back.
If your friends absolutely roast the shit out of you in front of you, you probably have very good friends. Now, we’re not talking about crossing boundaries and telling you things that you’ve asked them to cease & desist (*ahem* can we let the “Christinky” nickname lay to rest, guys?), but good ol’ fashioned banter is a sign of honest friends. However, a sign that your “friend” might actually be defaming you behind your back is their willingness to talk about their other friends to you. In a gossiper’s mind, no person is safe. Speaking of minds, here’s one of my favorite quotes:
“Small minds discuss people. Average minds discuss events. Great minds discuss ideas.”
- Eleanor Roosevelt
Make wise choices when it comes to friends: choose the average ones, at least.
Friends don’t treat you like an “always on-call” therapist… unless they’re paying you good money.
I could not have hit a bigger jackpot when it comes to the emotional intelligence, consideration, and support I receive from my friends. In fact, my college friends introduced me to a phrase that no one had ever said to me before: “Are you in a good headspace to talk about some tough things with me?” I was shocked in the best way possible when one of them first asked me that profound question. I’m not sure if my shock was from having exceptionally terrible “friends” in the past or just a general lack of communication skills in society. Regardless, it is a compassionate and highly effective question that I have adopted into my own lexicon. Prefacing a potentially draining conversation by ensuring your friend’s well-being is a great way to be a good friend. I bet they will really appreciate you checking on their social battery level and return the favor. Our friends should pour into us and us into them -- no energy suckers allowed!
And because I believe in always ending on a positive note, I leave you with a bonus…
Friends do support your work… and should be your biggest fans!
When my first article for Blossom launched, the group chat was the first place I went to talk about it. I was unsure of how I felt about it, but my friends wasted no time in congratulating me. Some of them even proceeded to link my article on all of their social medias and brag about me. When I thanked them and gushed about how sweet they were, they shrugged it off as something that friends just do. I don’t think they will ever truly know how much that meant to me. To anyone struggling to find good, stable, healthy friendships -- hang in there.
You’ll find your team. I can certainly say that I found mine.