Monday, June 21, 2010

Pro Tip: How not to be my friend

I don't take friendship lightly. To me, my friends are an extension of my family. They are the family that I choose. I have some new friends, but the majority of my friends are people I've considered to be friends for most of my life. Among the friends that I hold dear are people that I've loved for 5, 10, 20 or 30 years. Some of my friends are ex boyfriends. I loved them once and I still love them, albeit in a very different way. But the point is, my friends all own real estate holdings in my heart, and it is not in my nature to serve anyone an eviction notice. I don't throw friends away.

I did have to, however, disengage myself from a relationship recently. It was a sad occurrence, and a rarity in my life. I am not the type of person who will grow close and attached to you, and then find some silly and small reason to dismiss everything about you that had been so precious to me. I don't treat my relationships flippantly. This friend that I had to distance myself from broke every rule in my friendship rules book, so I had to let her go. So I'm writing this primer for you, dear friends, so you don't make the same mistakes she did. So, without further ado here are The Rules:


1) Be honest. I will always be honest with you, even if it is difficult for me to say and harder for you to hear. Because a true friend loves you that much, and will go through that kind of emotional distress that is painful, but makes you better.

2) Be generous. Darling, it's not all about you. Friendship is a two way street of give and take.

3) Be funny, with the ability to be deep. There are few things in life that I enjoy more than a good joke. At the same time, there are some real, big struggles and issues in life that we will have the opportunity to traverse together. Be able and ready to go there with me. I might need you, or you might need me.

4) Love others as much as you love yourself. I have a big, generous, giving heart. Don't take advantage. Be able to give as much as you get.

5) Be yourself. I'm the type of person who thrives on diversity and loves meeting new people and learning about our differences in history and opinion. There's something wonderful that I love about challenging myself and what I think. I love to grow and learn and expand my horizons after being exposed to new thoughts and ideas. We may both be diamonds in the rough, but at each others' sides we can polish and perfect each other and become better people together.

Which leads me to the don'ts:

1) Don't make up some some incredibly traumatic and sad attention whore stories in an effort to make me feel piteous empathy for you. When I tell you I was molested at a young age, don't say "me too!" When I share with you how I struggled with having diabetes in my youth and trying to hide it from everybody I knew because I was ashamed to be different, don't say "me too!" It's not called trying to bond with me if it's lying. Of course, if these things are true you go on right ahead and share your experiences with me. Be genuine and true to me, because I will always be the same to you.

2) Don't stay up until 2 am with me, discussing at length your crisis of faith because you were one faith on one side of the family and something completely different on the other when none of it is true. Dude, I take my theology seriously. God is not something to be trifled with. I mean, really. Don't even try to defend this. This disgusts me.

3) Don't make up some grandiose background story about all of your amazing professional accomplishments you had before you had children. First of all, nobody like a braggart so this kind of I'm-so-awesomeism is not going to endear yourself to me. Secondly, you made all of this up. You don't have to be a former social services attorney to get me to like you. You just have to be you.

4) Be never too busy to call back. There are few things more irritating to me than someone who can't be troubled to return a call, email or text message. Once or twice is no big deal, everyone slips. Also, don't make a habit of cancelling or rescheduling plans at the last minute. My time and my schedule is important too! When I find that you are actually Queen of the Flakes and this is your regular behavior pattern, that makes me want to tell you to go plow. Because you're just rude.

5) If a problem or conflict arises in our relationship, woman up and deal with it. Don't stick your head in the sand and wish it would go away. Because it won't. I'll just lose respect for you and view you as someone with such a lack of maturity and life skills that you can't even face me, your friend, and discuss real life problems in a civil manner. Don't send someone else to do your dirty work for you. Don't send in your husband or other friend as a makeshift mediator. Oh no, honey. This is between me and you and I'm not playing telephone with other people to try to get my point across. You're a grown up. Now act like it.

I know I'm not perfect. But I do try, I try very hard to be a good person, a good wife, a good mother and a good friend. I might mess up. I won't get it right every time. But I will try, and I will always be honest and generous and kind and good to you as best as I know how. All I ask is the same in return. In this great journey of life, you're going to need some good friends. I can be one of yours, if you can master these 10 simple and easy rules.

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