The friendship test
I have been thinking a lot about this since I wrote about losing friends earlier this week.
In my life, there have been times that I would define as friendship tests.
If you’re wondering who your friends really are, ask yourself this:
- Who visited you and looked after you when you were sick?
- Who was there for you when someone you love died?
- Who put up with you/supported you when you went through a crazy period?
- Who stuck with you after a separation or divorce?
- Who has helped you move house?
- Who supported you when you got fired or made redundant?
- Who stuck by you, even when you were doing something dumb (ie having an affair, dating a psycho, dabbling in drugs, drinking too much on a regular basis, etc)?
- Who would you ask for a loan if you got really stuck?
- Who makes you laugh?
These people are your Platinum friends. Love them, nurture them, know them, and make sacrifices for them because they’re worth it. The truth is there’s probably only a handful of people who fall into this category so making them a top priority is easy enough to do. They’re your water, air, shelter and food. You need them.
Then there’s these guys – the Gold friends (your Platinum friends can often fall into this category too):
- Who have you travelled with (and managed to remain friends)?
- Who would you go to for advice about an important matter (marriage, family, work, etc)?
- Who makes you happy every time you see them?
- Who stays in regular contact?
- Who do you share interests and passions with?
- Who do you have fun with?
- Who reciprocates invitations and gift-giving?
- Who would you invite to a dinner where you could only invite your favourite people?
Look after these relationships and let them flow on a river of ease; it’s this easiness that is the defining factor. While these friendships stay happy and enriching, continue investing in them. If things start to drift, that’s OK too. Remember the river – while you’re both flowing in the same direction, hold hands like beavers.
And then there’s these guys – the Silver friends:
- Who do you like catching up with from time-to-time?
- Who would you invite if you were having a big house party and wanted all your friends to come?
- Who would you pop in to visit if you were passing through their country, town or city?
- Who do you love following on Facebook and Instagram, seeing what they’re up to and watching their kids/dogs/cats grow up?
These guys are part of the ocean of friendship. They are part of a much bigger world of affection that, like ocean currents, moves and shifts. Occasionally you wash up on each other’s shores and it’s a joy.
All of these guys are important. Everyone else? Not so much. Don’t sweat it if you are not best friends with your colleagues, your mothers group, your sporting team or who ever else you encounter in your daily life.
This is Bronze level stuff – people you are friendly to. You can be friendly to absolutely anyone and new friendships are often formed through these random interactions but you don’t have to prioritise these relationships too much.
The one thing I’ve learnt is that friendship is essential to human happiness. Also ‘ghosting’ – the unexplained disappearance of a friend – is a real pain point for many people.
If you decide to opt out of a friendship – no matter how awkward the conversation – please, for the sake of human psychology, explain why you are leaving. I have ghosted people and I really regret it now. I did it because I was angry and I tend towards the passive-aggressive. In retrospect, I should have spoken up and potentially resolved the issue, rather than dismissed a friendship outright.
One final thought: tell your friends that they are your friends. Confirm your love for them. It seems a lot of us are wondering so it would be so much easier if we all just said, “I love you, my dear, beloved friend”.