I have sometimes been criticized for being selective when it comes to people who I make as friends and those I don’t. Truly, I believe that most of us do this and that many should learn how to do it. There is nothing wrong with being discerning about the company that you keep. This discernment is something that can save a lifetime of frustration and suffering.
Granted, way back in my youth, I did not discern very well, especially when it came to male friends. I had a major father hunger that was engrained into my psyche because of an abusive and absent father. He would be away for sometimes weeks on end with his job, and then when he came home he was abusive. I became very skilled at making myself scarce in his presence to avoid the abuse. This was a technique that I used with him right into my 30’s. It kept me safe, and then it kept my children safe.
But what this set up for me was a hunger inside for male friendship. For years I would take any morsel of attention from other dudes and consider it a precious gift. I would attach to them through our friendship and then be extremely disappointed when I would discover that they were not nice people at all. Betrayal after betrayal would happen and I would feel it deep in my soul. Then I realized that the hunger for male friendship was attached to my horrible relationship with my father. So what I was attracting to me was men who were just like him. This had to stop…STAT.
And it did. It took me until I was around 35 to work it out well. But I did the years of hard work, looking at the types of men that I had as friends. One of the things I realized was that I was always the one setting up coffee dates, going to various events I knew they would be interested in (even though I was not that interested in the event as much as I was in their friendship), phoning them to check in, and so on. But the thing is that the phone was always ringing in one direction…theirs. I realized that if I were to not dial the phone, I would likely never hear from them again. And I was right. Although this broke my heart, it was a valuable lesson for me. I had to become more discerning in my friendships.
The process then became a matter of what DO I want in a friendship with other men? I know that it might be a tall order, but here are just a few of the things that I decided upon:
- Honesty. I don’t want someone who is going to be vague or gamey in our friendship. I want honesty and sometimes to the point of being blunt about it. And I want someone who can take that as much as they can dish it out. I want someone who will tell me if I am being a total asshole and know that I won’t hold it against them. And I want someone who appreciates when I am that honest with them as well.
- Loyalty. I have had too many “friends” who have jumped on the band wagon and made fun of me with others in my absence. That sucks. I want a friend who will defend me when I am not in the room, and who will do so even if I am not in the country. If they simply stay silent, that is not good enough because they are showing compliance to those who are trashing me. And if I am going to defend your honor, you bloody well better do the same for me.
- Humor. I have a strange and complicated and often dark sense of humor. If that cannot be matched or even appreciated, then we cannot be friends.
- Kindness. Even though I prefer often times brutal honesty, I also appreciate seeing kindness…not just toward me but also toward others. If we are having lunch and you are treating the serving staff with rudeness, then we are done. If you are kind to children, animals, the elderly, those of a different gender, then we are good.
- Independence. I don’t want someone who is going to be trailing along behind me trying to live off of the scraps I leave in my wake. I want a friend who is self-sufficient, independent, and absolutely EMPLOYED in some way. Although I do have compassion for the underdog, I do not like when anyone treats me like a wallet. This can happen by asking outright for money. But it can happen when someone asks for me to cover too many coffees and too many lunches or even asks me to buy them stuff that they need to buy for themselves. This is not a friend. This is a leech. When anyone treats me this way I sever all association with them. I do not need to put up with that. Nobody does.
- Someone who is comfortable with visiting with my partner and does not treat them like nothing more than an extension of myself. Someone who takes interest in my partner’s life and work and hobbies and doesn’t just change the subject or ignore him is a major plus in my books.
- Someone who is able to separate who I am as a friend from who I am as a Shaman. I know that both are interwoven to a large degree. However, I am also done with those who want to get together for coffee only because they want to pick my professional brain. That is so uncool.
- Someone who would be able to bail me out of jail, which I would also do for them.
I realize as I am sharing this list that it could also be used to filter out a Tinder date! Haha!
These are just a few of the criteria that I have set out as markers for a good friendship. This list also applies to my female friends, but the learning curve took place in relation to my male friends. If someone does not meet all of the criteria, it is not that I won’t ever be their friend, but it will most likely be that they are slotted more into an acquaintance status than a friend status. And there are some things, such as numbers 5 and 6, that are absolute game changers. Now, this is just part of a list. And as a friendship grows, more of the list will naturally develop as either fulfilled or as something that needs to be worked on. I am an excellent coach. But, rest assured, I do not ask anyone to fulfill anything on the list that I am not also willing to fulfill on my end.
Have you ever had a friend who, every time you are connecting to get together, has a thousand reasons why it won’t work? I have. This is not a friend. This is an acquaintance.
Have you ever had a friend who doesn’t bother to connect with you for months, or years, and then out of the blue connects with you and wants to get together to catch up (usually immediately as opposed to when it is reasonably possible) and then hands you the line that, “I appreciate our friendship so much because we can go without seeing each other for months or years and when we get together we are good!” I have had this happen. This is not a friendship based upon anything meaningful. It is a friendship that is based upon convenience for them. That is called an acquaintance. Rest assured, this person is only connecting to stroke their own ego after someone dumped their sorry butt.
Knowing what you don’t want in a friendship is essential to actually finding a better type of friendship. But knowing what you DO want is even more important. When we manifest, we have to focus on what we DO want, not what we don’t want. So make your list. Be discerning. Be conscious of the company you keep.