I was actually on social media earlier when a post came across my feed where one person was accusing another person of not being a good friend because that person wasn’t constantly over at the other person’s house, or constantly calling the other person.
I have a theory about this and perhaps I’m a giant asshole for saying this, but just because you’re needy and your friend isn’t, doesn’t mean they’re not a good friend. As a matter-of-fact, from my perspective, the needier the other person, and the less regard they seem to have for the busy lives of their friends, and the more likely the stable, independent, introverted people in their lives will pull away from them.
Let’s face it, some of us are just more independent, introverted, and don’t need the constant human interaction. Especially if we’re goal driven creatives.
Don’t get me wrong – friends are great! While I have a lot of great local friends who I see a few times a year (usually no more than 12 times a year), I also have friends scattered across the globe who I talk to more regularly. And when my friends REALLY need me to be there for them – I will be there for them whether they need to borrow our truck, need help moving, or just need someone to listen. But I try not to be constantly wedged up their asses, and they are not constantly wedged up mine.
Why? Because I’m independent and introverted, and in turn, I tend to have friends who are highly independent and introverted. Each of us understands that the other has a life and shit they want to do, and we embrace that about each other, nurture it, and respect it.
We’re the type of friends who only see one another a few times a year and are cool with that. We don’t have to talk every single day. If we’re being honest here – I haven’t had a close local groups of friends I see every single day since High School, when I had a lot more free time on my hands, and my life was all about my friends and my social interaction with them.There was a lot more drama back then, too.
As I grew up and became more independent and goal driven, I married my best friend. I see him every day and talk to him every day. I don’t have that same relationship with any other human. I have close friends (I can count them on one hand), casual friends (I could count those on two hands), and distant friends (I have a lot of these). Then there are acquaintances, aka people that I’m friendly toward.
So, just because a person doesn’t meet your needs as a friend – doesn’t mean they’re a bad friend. It simply means they’re a different type of friend. They may not be the type of friend you want, but they’re someone else’s ideal friend. We tend to attract and keep the type of friends we are. I tend to be one of those friends who doesn’t like to go out much, who doesn’t like to get many visitors, but who enjoys texting and email, and the occasional skype or email chat. When I do get together with friends – it usually involves a meal and a good conversation. On RARE occasion it may include a show/shopping/museum/party or something social like that. I avoid crowds of people when I can.
But just because I don’t want to constantly hang out with my friends and go out and do things doesn’t mean I care about my friends any less. Besides, I’ve got writing and projects to do and you can’t do that if you’re always out with your friends. Now, I will set aside my writing and projects if a rare emotional crisis (I don’t have or keep friends who are constantly in a state of emotional crisis and need others to constantly care for their emotional needs, because that doesn’t work for me), illness, or death requires it, but my friends know this about me and know that sometimes I will say no to an invitation because I have a life, career, husband, etc… That’s why we’re still friends.
Ultimately – it’s not a matter of good friend/bad friend. It usually comes down to introversion/extroversion, independence/dependence, and how close you are to that friend (and how close they perceive the relationship as well). Once you can accept that not all people are the same, and that sometimes both people are not on the same page with regard to the perceived friendship level, it actually makes it easier to find, make, and keep the types of friends we want, and not judge those who are simply different than what we want.
What about the really horrible people who can’t keep friends and have no long term friends?
I’ve found that people like this are rare. Usually if you meet someone who has NO friends or friends who don’t stick around more than two years at a time, it’s likely because they’re either too needy and therefore too exhausting, or they are genuinely sociopathic in some way. But again, this is very rare. Even introverts have long term friends. I still have friends from my grade school days, and people in my inner circle who I’ve been friends with 20 years or more, and I’m introverted as fuck. Consider that maybe you could be misjudging someone because they may not consider you a close enough friend to share the intimate details of their friendships with you.