A Friend List for the Friendless

A Friend List for the Friendless

By Carrie Eckles

As of the posting of this article, I am twenty-four years old. If I live to be a hundred years old (and I’d like to live longer, because I love this planet), I’m basically a quarter of the way through life. I’ve learned a lot—so far. Life is a constant learning experience and each of us learns at different paces. What I know, you may not know, and what you may know, I may not have even thought of. Basically, part of this whole learning experience is to share knowledge for the benefit of all, and today I come here with the knowledge of what a good friend should be.

 

What would we do without friends?

Before I get to the good stuff, I should say that I’ve been through more bull with friendships than some people have in a lifetime. I’m from the South. There are three types of people here. One third settles disputes the way the Romany do on TLC’s My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding. They cuss, they threaten, they’re loud, and they generally let the world know precisely who they are and why you shouldn’t cross them. Then you have the other side of the spectrum that represses everything. These people are very much like Hart of Dixie’s quintessential southern belle, Lemon Breeland, whose impeccable manners put British nobles to shame. The Lemon sort of friend maneuvers covertly and talks about you behind your back to all her girlfriends, but is more than kind to your face.

 
And then there are the rest of us, right in the middle. We just want some nice, like-minded people to hang out with sans drama. Is that too much to ask?

 
Well, if you answered “yes”, you’re very wrong.

 
Friend Shopping

 

Friendship is like a roller coaster – the ups and downs make it great

It sounds ridiculous and it is. But as a post-college adult, your social life can shrink ridiculously if you let it. Sometimes, you try not to let it, but things happen. Take me for instance. Lupus left me bedridden for about a year. And after that, I still had to recuperate. In that time, my friends dated, married and had babies. My friends will always be my friends, but when you’re a single adult, you need someone in your peer group to hang out with. You need a friend who is, if not single, available. After all, being a parent comes first. Babies are a full-time job. They can’t go to bars (not that I have the urgent desire, but I’d like the option), they can’t go on roller coasters (ditto), and they suck at roller skating. (Can you imagine a baby on roller skates? Mayhem!)

 
So, yes. I needed friends who are in the same stage of life as me. (It’s important to note that stage does NOT equal age. Some people are there at eighteen—others still aren’t where I’m at at 45.) So, I get to go friend shopping. Now, I want to say up front that I haven’t really discovered the best way to friend shop. (Never fear: I will write another article updating you when I do.) But all this trial and error has caused soul-searching and all this soul-searching has taught me what I need in a friend.
But to be clear…A friend is NOT a boyfriend or girlfriend. While some of these qualities overlap in a potential mate, this list should be used for friends ONLY. If’n’when I get the urge to date or breed, I will write a list for that, I’m sure.

 

 

The basic qualities everyone should look for in a friend:

 
1. Someone who listens.
This is a given—especially for women. In a world where no one is obligated to listen to you, your friend should make the effort.
2. Someone who talks.
Conversation is a two-way street. If all your friend does is listen, no matter how much of a sweet-tempered Jane Bennet they are, they will start to resent you. (You are forewarned.)
3. Someone who doesn’t judge.
You can have an opinion without judging. You can state concern without judging. Knowing the difference is one of the true signs of emotional maturity. To give an example, I know a woman who always tries to tailor her friends to how she thinks they should be. Her heart may be in the right place, but to come to these conclusions, she judges them. You should accept your friends for who they are; the only time you should step in is if they are hurting themselves or others. Even then, you should be supportive. (Giving them a list of to-do’s is immature, counter-productive, and only stresses out your friend who is already hurting.)
4. Someone who keeps things in confidence.
Going back to conversation, women talk. It’s what we do. Talking about someone behind their back is bad; but telling a person your friend talked bad about them behind their back is worse. While I don’t condone this childish behavior, I do think you should have your friend’s back. If you sympathize more with the woman who is being talked about, go be her friend and cut your friend loose. Because, the thing is: if you divide your loyalties, it means you have none at all. No one wants a friend like that.

 

Friends stick together

5. Someone who makes your life better instead of worse.
Think about your current friends or friends you’ve had in your life. Quite easily, you can recall the ones who made you smile and made you feel loved not because you have low self-esteem, but because their vibe is so bright and positive. You can also quickly remember the friends who you were always mopping up after they got into a brawl or bailing out of jail because they brawled in public. The latter person makes your life worse. You can pity them, but they are not constructive—they are destructive. They will slowly chip away at you until you have nothing left. (If they can manage it, they’ll even ruin your other relationships because the average person will definitely listen to whatever they are told about you.)

 
So, think back to those positive friends. What about them made a positive impact on your life? That’s a question only you can answer for yourself. For me, it’s the people who encourage me to be me no matter how eccentric or random I am, the people who encourage me to dance in the rain, the ones who tell me I matter and take the time each day to remind me of it.

 
Don’t be needy—be demanding.

 
Demand the best quality of person when selecting friends. (The list will help you.) Demand that they are kind and good. Demand that they meet your criteria. Demand the best from your friends, but don’t be needy. A functional friendship is one of effortless give and take. If one person tugs too hard, everyone falls down, and nothing good can come from that.
“Are you on the list?”

 
Yes, I’m quoting propaganda from the now-cancelled NBC awesomesauce series, Heroes. The best place to start is to ask yourself: “Am I on the list?” Because, if you are, you might just be the friend that someone just like you is looking for.

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