We all have people in our life we consider friends but how well do you really know someone before you call them a friend? Do we use the word “friend” too loosely? We have many different relationships in our life and just because you know someone by way of a work, neighborhood, friend of a friend we tend to refer to them as our friends. How do you really know who is a genuine friend versus a phony friend? As hard as it may be to recognize at times it’s important to know there isn’t always sincerity that sits behind every smiling face. Today we live in such a competitive world where deceit is common so it’s best to know who you are associating with.
Unfortunately, phony friends exist just as much, if not more, than real friends. Just as the Prada purse you can buy on the street behind the curtain in New York looks so much like the purse in the case at Saks, it takes closer inspection to actually see the difference. Like my Mom always said, “You will be able to count your real friends on one hand when you get older.”
Tips to remember:
- Real friends will ask you how you’re doing because they really want to know. Phony friends are usually more concerned with their own needs than yours or anyone else’s. It’s okay to be self-aware but not self-centered. Phonies tend to ask you how you’re doing and as you are in mid-sentence they may interrupt to start talking about themselves. They are not really listening to you, but waiting for a break in conversation to butt in and talk about themselves. Next time your “friend” does this, call them out on it. Ex: “I’m sorry to interrupt, I thought you asked me how I was doing and I was answering you”
- Genuine friends will call you just to ask how you’re doing, what you’re doing or make plans with you for a fun outing. Phonies only call you when they want or need something and they are very unapologetic about it. If your friends can’t deem you worthy of their time enough to talk to you other than when they need you then your question is easily answered. If you want to prove your on to them you could answer the phone and say, “Hey _________, what can I do for you today?” Chances are they are so self-absorbed they won’t notice. You may have those phonies that make plans with you with no intentions of actually carrying them though. To me, these phonies are the worst kind.
- You feel more comfortable and can be yourself anytime your real friends are around. I am a firm believer that nobody can make you feel inferior or make you feel a certain way unless you allow them to, however it’s the gut feeling I am referring to when I say a fake friend leaves you with a feeling of emptiness and disconnect. You may even feel you have to act, dress or talk a certain way in order to be accepted. This is a horrible feeling and chances are it’s not you, it’s them and your intuition is zoning in on negative energy. Remember money can only buy things, not class.
- You always have a genuine hug, call or maybe a card when you achieve anything special or have congratulations in order from your real friends. They won’t try to “one up” your every success. Real friends are supportive and they are constantly sharing positive words of encouragement. You win an award of excellence at work, or land a promotion, achieve a personal goal you have worked on for a long time. No matter what the scenario they will be there to pat you on your back and push you forward. Phonies are so opposite its plainly noticeable because they don’t like any attention unless it’s on them. They will hear of your success and try to pull the attention off of you and onto them in some way. They have competitive mentality with you and their other so called friends around them. When you share good news it should never get a response of “well guess what happen to me” reaction or embellishment of their story just to top your proud moment.
- Real friends choose to protect your reputation at all cost. When you have a true friend they will never stand silent when someone is talking about you in a negative way or stirring up unnecessary gossip. A real friend doesn’t ride the fence when someone isn’t in your corner and then call it “I can’t take sides.” Standing up for a friend is not taking sides, it’s called good character. Fake friends will join in on the lies or gossip or stand silent in opinion even when they know the truth. I am not saying start an argument or make anyone uncomfortable, I am saying when faced in that situation a true friend will stop it before it starts by saying “in ____________defense, she/he is not here to defend themselves or tell the story so we should save this conversation for another time.” Short and sweet and impressive. You will be applauded by the group!
- Just as a real friend is there for you in the good times, they are also there for you in the bad times. In one time or another we will all be struck with a blow of tragedy in our life. You may be facing divorce, death of a loved-one, bankruptcy, terminal illness in your family, total loss in a fire or storm or even a job loss. The list goes on to what can and could happen to each of us with or without warning.
This is when a genuine friend is needed the most. If you are a real friend, then you know your friend better than anyone and you know what they need from you even if you have never faced what they are facing. This is not the time to disappear or make excuses. The phonies will shine brighter than stars during tragedy making your tragedy all about them for attention or simply walk away. When you go through tragedy, look around you and see who is there calling, bringing you what you need, caring for your needs, supporting you or listening with a shoulder to cry on.
Spotting a genuine friend is easy if we pay attention to who is around us. Watch their eye contact when you’re talking to them. Do they see and hear you or are they looking around you to see who is in the room or waiting to talk about themselves? Their actions and body language will tell you more than what they say.
Friends are more than just good companions. They are influential people in your life. They can either have a negative or a positive influence. They are supportive, caring and loving even when there is indifference. Be the person you want to be and you’ll attract individuals with the same beliefs, opinions and values. It hard to be fake for too long, the true soul of a person always comes out in time.
In a friendship that ends you will find yourself going through some of the same grief and loss emotions I mentioned in previous chapters of divorce and death of a loved. This type of emotion usually occurs when the friend has wronged you in some way so painful that you never expected it or saw it coming.
In my many years of lasting friendships I have heard some stories that would probably hit home for some. Two best friends for over 10 years. One is single and one is married. The married friend divorces her husband for cheating and finds out later the woman he is seeing was her best friend all along. These relationships can leave you devastated for a few reasons. The person you shared all of the divorce heart ache with was partly the issue to begin with and now that you discover the person you confided in the most is the person hurting you the most. This friendship will result in a lot of anger and will need time in order to heal.
The friend that tells you everything and appears to have your back supports or simply ignores others talking about you in a negative way. This can be hurtful because you count on your best friends to have your back and shut the negative talk down. You certainly never expect them to befriend the very people trying to hurt you. This friendship may or may not be worthy of saving. It depends on what was said and how willing you are to put your faith back into this relationship.