As we go through life, we meet people-and some of those people a permanent part of our lives, whereas others just come and go. Some of us are blessed enough to have real friends that stick around for the long haul. Although some people have been around us or in our lives since childhood, this does not make them a friend. Growing up, I noticed that people I know and myself included, call everyone we know our friends. Of course, as I got older I realized that this was not the case at all...not even close to the truth. I would like to challenge the thought, or rather the habit, that we call everyone we know a friend. According to dictionary.com, a friend is defined as: a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard; a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter. Based on these definitions alone, we could all probably start putting question marks beside a few names on the "friends" list. Some of those names that are now in question could very possibly be people we talk to and hang out with on the regular. So, lets think about this: Are these individuals still around out of habit? Are they here because of something that they are gaining from you?
Now, I am not saying that these people shouldn't be in our lives, but I am saying that we should re-evaluate where they stand in our lives. Are they supportive? Do they take the time to talk to you and listen to what you have been experiencing? Or do they only call you when they are in need of your help? Real friends are those who you are able to answer the first two questions with a "yes". Yes there is more to being a friend than being supportive and listening, but those are two major components to the relationship. Then we have the "Takers" in our lives who use us for what we can provide them with (support, money, laughs, etc). These people, even though you may have known them for years, and consider them to be a friend, will be around until they get all that they want/need from you, or until you cut them off. If we are honest about our relationships, we can all probably remember a friend who was a taker...or maybe you played that role in the relationship. I had a friend who more recently I had to step back from because of this reason. I was there for her through one of the worst experiences in her life, and during that time she was ALWAYS available and reaching out to me. When she got past this point, the calls and girls time dwindled to nothing. By no means is there any ill will towards her, but in re-evaluating our relationship, I saw that she is a taker; therefore, I have decided to no longer be a source for her. Those that are my true friends (which are few, and I like it that way), actually check on me, we hang out, and do things together (initiated by both parties). My true friends have seen me at my lowest, and stuck by me...which makes our bond that much stronger. I once thought that all the people that were still around after high school were my really good friends, and I since have learned that longevity does not equal loyalty.
The last thing I had to look at, was what kind of friend I was. So, look at yourselves and determine if you are the type of friend that you want your friends to be. Don't expect them to give what you don't. If you do not support them or call them, do not expect the same from them in return. I treat my friends like family, so I would do anything I can in my power to help them. I genuinely care for my friends, and I pray for them regularly. I can truly say that in my newly downsized circle, my friends are REAL friends to me. Let's nurture the real friendships we have, and if you don't have any...this is as good a time as any to make some new friends.