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September 26, 2013

Real Friends

by Ruth Chung

Forget Facebook friends – how many real friends do you have? What does it mean to be a friend, and what constitutes as one?

“Friendship” is a loose term. It can be used describing many different kind of relationships we’ve all heard of at one point or another: “best friends,” “good friends,” “school friends,” “new friends,” “just friends,” “friends with benefits,” or simply, “friends.” Some would agree that the term “friendship” is subjective—whatever you want of a friend is whatever you define of a friend.

Some say that a true friend is only somebody who would lunge in front of you to stop a bullet. Some feel more comfortable deciding that a friend is just somebody whom you share lots of laughs with. And some say that a friend is merely somebody with a daily schedule that overlaps yours. Regardless, I have realized one thing about friends: regardless of who they are to you and whether or not you agree that they have the markings of a “true friend,” they all have different ways of going about trying to be one.

There are many types of friends, and in all my seventeen years of living, I have encountered, observed and have probably been the following few:

The users, the ones who address you only when they need something from you; their friendship is strictly conditional: when you have something they want, you’re suddenly their “best friend,” and then when they get what they want or lose interest in it, you’re suddenly completely off their radar.

There are also the “beaters,” the ones who resemble a sort of time bomb. Everything seems fine and dandy between you two, and then the minute you do something wrong, or their demand is not met, they explode. Their often built-up wrath unleashes and they turn into a completely different person, entirely disregarding any friendship the two of you once shared. After this they might begin to ignore you, and, if they’re sour enough, they might even defriend you on Facebook.

And then there are the loners, the ones who are more independent than most and enjoy keeping to themselves. They are often off in their own little world, and can sometimes be socially awkward. They seem to befriend fellow “loners,” who understand and respect their tendencies. There are the needers, the ones that need your attention all the time to fill some kind of personal hole within. They are often clingy, and often give off the impression of “sucking in more than they reciprocate.”

There are short-timers, the ones with temporary friendships. These people often have many friends with more shallow relationships. On the other hand, there are life-timers, whose friendships are deep and personal, yet only with a few; they can be often seen as exclusive and “choosey.” Besides knowing a few people in depth, they have no width.

And lastly, I believe there are the givers: the ones that constantly give more than they receive.

While reading the list, I’m sure a few names popped into mind. We can all think of a few people in our lives that talk to us only for advice or in desperate need for a piece of gum, or those that have completely stopped talking to us after one faulty incident; I myself couldn’t help but be reminded of a few names for some of the descriptions. But which of these entail the makings of a true friend?

What I’ve concluded is that a true friend is more concerned about being a friend than having a friend. Instead of seeking out certain people to pull into their circle, they look at themselves and measure their own character in observing how they treat the people around them. This, in essence, is the mark of “the giver”—the one that cares more about giving back as the friend than receiving anything or anyone for themselves.

Is this possible to become? Of course. Is it possible to be all the time? Of course not. Obviously our natural inclination as human beings is to seek out things for ourselves. However, it is possible to employ our most resilient qualities to turn this greed around for good. There will be some people in our lives who will never acknowledge our efforts, and there will be those who might prefer to remain without the challenge of becoming “a true friend.” In these cases it is important to note that you will not find a friend in everybody, regardless of how honest your efforts are. However, it is important to be a friend in order to find these friendships that work.

The key to having real friends is to know how to be a friend. It is that simple. Don’t be a user, a beater, or a needer. Give, give, give.

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