Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Some More Thoughts on Friendship

(Before I continue, I would like to point out that it is winter in Johannesburg and today's temperature is 21 degrees Celsius. It is summer in the UK and the temperature recorded in Oakham today is 15 degrees Celsius. That is all.)

After reading a post on Teri's Blog, I found myself returning to the topic of friendship. I remember also reading something by Geneen Roth (again) that reiterated my own feelings that if you are in a friendship and you feel diminished in some way, you need to change it.

I have figured that I have allowed some people to use me as a way to make themselves feel better about who they are. This has really niggled me, particularly due to an incident over the weekend, when I realised that I had allowed myself to be used in this way by someone in particular.

It dawned on me that I didn't want to be judged and found wanting by someone who called herself a friend. I clearly didn't meet her standards or criteria for perfect and she belittled me for it. It was also made clear that if someone is constantly 'testing' your friendship, to see how true a friend you are to them, they are no way a friend to you.

How did friendships become so complicated? Manipulators and energy vampires are everywhere. I've managed to deal with my own negative compulsions that would ordinarily attract people like this, however I find that I am still being hurt by some people I really thought I could trust and rely on.

One of my favourite sayings is that if you want to change your circumstances, you have to change yourself. And maybe that's just it. I HAVE changed myself and become more positive. I am no longer willing to indulge in a feel sorry for myself fest. I am not willing to submit to someone else's negativity. And perhaps some people feel threatened by that.

How do you spot someone's true colours? How do you know when to stay and when to walk away?


  1. Each time I read one of your posts, I'm amazed and impressed with the depth of grace and honesty that you exhibit, Tanya. You express yourself in thoughtful and thought-provoking ways, and I'm often at a loss as to what to say...

    However, this is a bit similar to a conversation I had with my husband recently - that we shouldn't each try to make the other happy at our own expense. It's the same with friendship. Mutual appreciation should be more than gravy. It should be the entree.

  2. I wish I could help you. I'm not that good with people myself. But if someone is making you feel bad about yourself, I think you should confront them.

  3. I have learnt a lot about people in my short life. I have spent time trying to self destruct, and spending time with people who are happy to facilitate that. I have had good friends, really bad friends and special friends. I have used and been used, I have hurt and been hurt. Every time a new experience has chalked up I have changed my way of looking at this, and this is where I have ended up:

    - I have allowed friendships that don’t provide me with any benefit to fizzle (you know, the needy friends who always want something, but have nothing to give).
    - I have ended friendships that are based on destructive habits, or destructive interactions.
    - I have prioritised friendships that lend me some benefit, allow me to be myself, and allow me to have a way of discussing my issues, trials, tribulations and elations with someone who genuinely cares and has an opinion that I respect.
    - I have sought friendships with people that I like to be around, that I look up to, that I can learn from, and I have put effort into making those friendships equally rewarding on all sides.

    And this is where I stand now:

    - I have a few very special friends across several geographies. I can write to them, drop in on them, phone them anytime, and it’s like time stood still – they don’t ever change in how they are to me.
    - These are people that I care about deeply, have respect for, and look forward to interacting with – and that’s all I need for my simple existence.

  4. Some categories of my friends:

    - Work friends: people I get along great with at the office but have no interest in seeing any other time or place.

    - Normal friends: people you see kinda regularly, have coffee with and chat to about movies and music and stuff.

    - Airport friends: On a higher level than normal friends - they are also willing to fetch you from the airport if you go on holiday. You will talk about lots of topics, but not the really personal, serious stuff...

    - Real friends: Not only will they fetch you from the airport, they are the ones you phone any time of day or night for a shoulder to lean or cry on. You can tell them ANYTHING. And of course you can have coffee and chat about movies and music anytime too... ;>
    These are the gems you hang onto.

    If people don't fit into any of these categories - or make you feel bad in any way - they aren't friends.

  5. Dear Tanya...I know I am late getting here, but I don't have much time to blog around anymore.

    I feel compelled to comment on the negativity issue you raised here. I actually wrote about this issue several times (directly, not between the lines) and have not posted either article yet. One day I will.

    I decided a long time ago that I would weed out all of the negative influences (friends, family, etc.) in my life. I did, and then a few years later, whack! Yes, weeds sprouted up in my beautiful yard and it was difficult to see the weeds for the flowers. Especially as they were blooming (as in blooming idiots, that is). Once I finally caught the weeds that were choking my true flowers, I arranged for a few insecticide interventions and I'm now trying to keep a more watchful eye on my yard. No more unwelcome negative they friend or foe.

    Good luck in your quest, and remember: if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, then it's probably a duck!

    Ciao chica...thanks for the link.