I don't have many friends. Is it because I don't like people? Maybe. Is it because people don't like me? Probably.
I've been through my fair share of shitty friendships. I mean, who hasn't? And because of this, I'm hesitant and sometimes untrusting. I would like to say that it keeps me from putting up with other peoples' shit, but I can't. I still get taken for granted and I still usually put up with it. But there is always a boiling point, and once it has been reached, this pot runs over.
I've had "friends" who have belittled me while claiming to be my bestie. Ones who have called me fat and Shamu ( back when I ACTUALLY was skinny ) and degraded me to their utmost ability. People who have tried to make other people not like me by spreading lies and telling my secrets. Those who have interfered with my relationships, including sleeping with my ex-fiance and then acting like a victim. Ones who have given and inch but taken a mile. I just can't do it anymore.
Sometimes people just grow apart. And sometimes you try to blind yourself to the reality, simply because you think that person means well. But what if they don't? Why should you be friends with shitty people simply because you want friends?
Looking at my track record, I really have to wonder, "Is it them, or me?" I honestly don't think that I'm very hard to get along with. It's rare when I blow up, and when I'm upset or frustrated I kind of just get quiet until I have the chance to sort my thoughts. I've always been aware that if you can't say something nice, you shouldn't say anything at all. But I don't think I've ever blatantly been rude to anyone on purpose. I just don't want to deal with the bullshit anymore. I've dealt with so much. And it's harder as you get older to make "adult friends"...everyone has their group and it's hard to become included in that. So I see it as, as long as you have a handful of decent people in your life, what's wrong with that?
So as I look more in depth into that topic, I kind-of made a "checklist" of things that help me to decide if a friendship is worth salvaging or not.
(1) Could you call this person in an emergency and they would drop everything to come to you?
Let's say...you've been arrested. Some crazy-girl shit like throwing a rock through your exes window. You're in holding and it's 2 AM. You make your call. Who would that person be? Who would you know and trust to drop everything and come to get you? Who would be sober? Who would deal with lack of sleep and being woken up in the middle of the night? Who would not ask questions and just be there by your side? Who would never throw it in your face? If someone can't fit that criteria, I think it's time to re-evaluate your relationship. You need to know that someone is going to be there for you when shit gets real. Now, I'm not saying that, if you're just a hot-ass-mess of a person, someone needs to be ready at the drop of a hat whenever you get yourself into a pickle. But when you're REALLY in trouble and you need them, are they going to be there?
(2) Can you trust them with your emotions?
Are you able to be unapologetically you? Can you cry and be depressed and not fear being judged by them, or must you restrain yourself? Can you have fun with them and share crazy experiences without having to worry that they will hold it against you later? Can you believe that they will keep your secrets to themselves and empathize as best they can?
(3) Do they respect you?
Friendship is about mutual respect; you meet each other half way. If you have a friend who has to have everything done on their watch, there's something wrong. It's not fair. If they are constantly late, they don't value your time. If you must always do what they want instead of what you may want, they are being selfish. Do you always have to pay their way if you want to go out? Do they try to get pity from you to get what they want? And do they value your opinion? If they respect you, they know that if they come to you with an important life decision you're going to keep it 100% real with them. And they WANT that opinion because it should mean a lot to them.
(4) Would you be okay leaving them alone with your significant other?
Unfortunately, I've had FAR too many "girl friends" with whom I wasn't. One girl slept with my ex while we were friends. One girl got mad at a guy for texting me, even though we had approached him at the bar for me. One who instigated a potential threesome with an ex and his friend-while I was still dating him. One who flashed her tits at my then-boyfriend and then proceeded to let him come on to her via internet, "failing" to inform me. Girls in high school that would pass my guy around like a toy and then smile in my face. If you can't trust her with your guy, it's time to say good-bye!
(5) Do you have similar interests or has one of you changed?
When you're in your early 20s, you like to party...and most of your friendships are based on getting drunk and being crazy. But as you get older, priorities shift. We get married. We have children. We get adult jobs and have adult lives. Our bodies can't take the beating they were once able to. So, as you grow, are your friendships growing WITH you...or AWAY from you?
(6) Do they ask their other friends for advice, or do they just bitch about you?
It's one thing to be frustrated with a friend and vent to someone else you trust just for an opinion. It's ANOTHER to go on a bashing spree about that friend and say horrible, mean, degrading things. If you have that much to say about someone, why do you even consider them a "friend"? I'm sorry, but if someone has horrible things to say about me like that, I don't want to be their friend!
(7) Do they stand up for you when you're not around?
Mutual friends. They happen. You become friends with someone, and they introduce you to THEIR friends, and it's one big happy family. But what happens when there is a falling out between one of you? If you cannot trust that your other friends can be neutral, it's time to part ways. It's hard enough going to get-togethers and having to see someone you don't particularly like anymore, but to know your other friends may be feeding into the turmoil is not cool. Can you trust that person to stick up for you during these times? If not, they are not a true friend.
I am in no way saying that I am the perfect friend. And people have probably gotten sick of my shit, too. I have anxiety and depression and I can fall off the face of the Earth for weeks at a time. I can get sick and tired of the BS and get snippy. I can be selfish sometimes, too. After a bad break-up, I was a puddle of *blah* for probably a year, no lie. But I always try to keep my heart in the right place. I always try to empathize and see things from a person's POV. Those people in my life that love me despite those downfalls are the ones I want to continue to have in my life. Everyday I try to be a better person, and yes, sometimes I fall back. But those people that stand by me and see friendship the same way that I do are the ones I need in my life...and those that I appreciate every day. That decide to put the same time and work into the friendship that I do. Just like a romantic relationship, a friendship is 50/50 and give-and-take...if one person is doing all the taking, eventually that bond is going to break.
That being said, I'd rather have a handful of genuine, loving, amazing friends than dozens of "friends". And I'm so thankful for people like Mallory, Andrea, John, Summer and a few others ( you should know who you are! ) who have showed me what real, mutual friendship is all about. Thank you guys so, SO much!