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The Other Gold

Best friends at the beach

Hello Dear Readers,

This Wednesday’s post is not a rant per se…call it more of an observation.

Last night I had dinner with my best friend. We have been friends for fifteen years or more, and she’s become like family to me. She’s one of the few female friends I’ve made in this city who has withstood the test of time. We’ve traveled to Africa and the Dominican Republic together; gone through numerous heartaches and downfalls together; and I’d trust her with my life. She’s the kind of friend who always has your back, and I’ve discovered that caliber of friend is hard to find.

One of the things we discussed last night was how tolerances change when you get older. When I first moved to this city, I was coming from a town where I called a half dozen people my “best friend”. I was eager to establish a new circle of friends here, and as such, I wasn’t particularly choosy. Over the years, I’ve had mentally disturbed friends, issue-laden friends, passive-aggressive friends, bossy undermining friends, unreliable friends, and people who were so mean that they can’t accurately be referred to as friends. I was patient with all of them, because I felt I needed them in some way. I know better now. It’s much preferable to spend time by yourself than it is to invest your energy in a poor excuse for a friend who at some point is going to betray you and/or break your heart.

Even as recently as a few years ago, I had difficulty detecting the good apples from the bad. I’d be able to tell if someone repeatedly made me feel unhappy after I’d spent time with her, but I tended to focus on her good points. “She may be really negative and condescending and tell me how to live my life all the time…oh, and I think she’s after my boyfriend, but she did come with me to the vet when my cat was sick.” That kind of thing. I hope I’ve gotten better at that.

The thing is, life is short. And life is busy. There is no point spending what little spare time you have with people whose company you don’t fully enjoy. It sounds so simple, but the truth is, a lot of us are walking around with bad friends. I’ve culled mine, and I don’t plan on taking in anymore.

How about you, dear readers? What benefit have you noticed to getting older and hopefully wiser? Or how did you realize that a friend just wasn’t worth your time?

Thanks for reading!
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13 Comments

  1. Lisa

    Totally been there done that…I call those “friends” Poison People…the kind of people that make you feel sapped after spending time with them. I have encountered a few people like that (one of them my ex-husband) and at the time hung onto them for some reason. After a while I got really REALLY tired of trying to ‘cheer them up’. No matter what we did, they always found something wrong with life. It was physically draining and I began to think that I was going to drown if I didn’t let them go. I’ve blogged about this a couple of times; the most recent was about quitting and its merits. I’m not usually a quitter, but sometimes you just have to “quit” these friends in order to feel happy. As I get older, and life seems to speed up, I just can’t waste time on things like that. It may sound harsh to some people, but to me it only makes sense. Sounds like you’ve done the same Holli, and are happier for it.

    Reply
  2. Story Teller

    I completely agree, Lisa. I still find it difficult to abandon people when they have a lot of issues, but if they have so many issues that they can’t actually sustain a friendship, when is it fair to call it quits? It’s different if you have a good friend for years and suddenly she falls on hard times–I’d stand by those friends. But the people who start out with a ton of problems and never seem to help themselves? I just don’t have energy for that anymore.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Hi Holli!! I recently came across your blog and have been quietly following. I felt compelled to comment on this post since I totally agree with you ……

    Growing up in a small town, it’s easy to have misconceptions of who your “true friends” really are. A true friend is someone who loves you and supports you unconditionally. As we grow and change they grow and change with us. Sometimes its sad to look back at the lost friendships, but at the same time it’s cleansing. We change and learn so much as we get older that unfortunately, some people don’t fit with our “new selves”. My husband, who is the poster boy for positivity, has taught me some very valuable lessons. Whether it’s friends or family, if the relationship promotes negative energy, don’t be a part of it! I have ended some long term friendships on this basis, but in the end I am thankful for everyone in my life that surrounds me with positivity!

    Thanks for the great post!

    PS – I am glad to see you are doing well! 🙂

    ~Jodie

    Reply
  4. Story Teller

    Hi, Jodie! Welcome to the blog, and thanks so much for breaking your silence. I love comments, and I always hope to incite some conversation from the posts–that’s when a blog really becomes interactive and fun.

    While it’s impossible to be positive all the time–we all have bad things happen–I think we can tell who adds more joy to our life just by how we feel before heading out to meet with them. If we consistently dread it, it’s definitely a sign.

    I can completely relate to what you say about small towns. I haven’t stayed in touch with many of my friends from back in the day, but a rare few are keepers.

    Thanks again for being here.

    Reply
  5. Kim

    I read this earlier on my phone and am now just taking a break from the grind and commenting. I probably have specific examples of this that I could give. I have a few friendships where there was just a natural growing apart and I don’t do anything to nurture them any more. I have one guy friend that became a big drain on me.

    But the last few years I’ve been the friend that fell on hard times and has been the one sucking on people’s energy at times. I’m thankful for the friends old and new that supported me. I think and hope that even in the midst of my troubles that I could still let it go at moments and have fun without being a downer to everyone constantly. I’m sure people were sick of me at times. God, I was sick of me (to quote Eat Pray Love the Movie).

    As for me taking people like that in. I have more of a problem of doing that with men who need taking care of. I can usually smell women’s negativity and I steer clear of sharing with those people. There was one person I shared some things with and she used to tell me gossip about other people and then one day I heard a rumor about myself and my target as to who was likely to blame for that popped a picture of her in my head. In moments of weekness I haven’t always been discerning about who I talked to. It is a very good general rule of thumb that if someone is telling you gossip about someone that you are not really friends with, that there is a good chance they are telling others who are not your friends your business. Does that make sense?

    Reply
  6. Story Teller

    Hi Kim,

    I’m sure that even though you’d fallen on hard times, you gave back more than you think. I know what you mean, though. Sometimes everything goes wrong in my life (I had two very bad years not too long ago), and there was one friend who had absolutely no patience for hearing about anything I was going through. I felt guilty for not being “up” all the time around her, but she ended up not being a true friend, anyways.

    And definitely, the first sign of a gossip is that she gossips TO you. I keep my distance from women like that.

    Reply
  7. CeeBee

    Love that pic of us! As you know, I am wary and untrusting of most people until I know them well, so only have a handful of close friends, but I do know those friends are loyal to the death 🙂

    There is definitely a big difference in having a good friend going through a bad time and a toxic “friend” who only sucks you dry without giving anything in return. These toxic people are not only frustrating and time-consuming, they actually cause that really bad kind of stress that can take years off your life. Dying younger or becoming ill are very good reasons to avoid or get rid of this type of negative person – or at least refer them to a good counsellor/psychologist who gets paid to listen to it!

    Reply
  8. Kim

    The interesting thing that I am finding now that things are on the up and up for me emotionally (I had to hit rock bottom pretty bad though in the spring to get here). Is how I am realizing by interacting with “healthy” people, how unhealthy one particular toxic person was. Actually more than one toxic person, because, like Lisa, my ex is a bit toxic too. But at the time I thought this was “normal” for people to behave and treat me this way.

    I’m trying to redefine normal now. But at the same time I am totally conditioned to expect toxic things to happen. E.g. a guy being too nice to me means that he will eventually turn on me and come to despise me, so I might as well not bother believing the niceness — that is the biggest hurdle I’m trying to overcome right now.

    Reply
  9. Story Teller

    @ CeeBee – thanks for commenting! You definitely inspire that kind of loyalty. It is so nice to know I can tell you anything and not have to worry. I’m such an open person, and nothing feels worse than spilling one’s guts, only to think, “whoops! I never should have said that to that person” and then worry about who they’re going to tell. We’ve also worked through issues together, which IMO strengthens a friendship. There’s a lot of fair weather friends out there, and man, you see the ugly side of them as soon as there’s a problem you need to discuss. I am honored to be your friend and blessed by our friendship.

    @ Kim – if “The Boy” is reading your last comment, he’s probably shaking his head and laughing. It took me at least a year to accept a man who treats me well. Chris is extremely generous and thoughtful, and in the beginning, I always felt guilty when he did nice things for me and tried to stop him, because I was afraid he’d end up resenting me. How kooky is that? But that is what I was used to. The right guy will stick with you until you work through your neurosis. It takes time.

    Reply
  10. Carol

    Interesting blog with a variety of topics.
    I recently had a friendship end and while it’s disappointing I realized it is for the best. This woman was needy, self-absorbed and ocassionaly gossipy. I’m sorry I opened up to her and did not pay attention to the red flags.
    We all have our differences, but she was not the person she presented herself to be and had hooks out to catch any perceived slight. I was appalled by the assumptions she made without asking for clarification and the list of greveinces she had of which I was not aware. I wish her well but won’t miss the pressure and drama of this friendship.

    Reply
  11. Story Teller

    @ Carol – welcome to the blog! I hope you visit us again soon. I can completely understand what you are going through–I, too, had a “friend” like that. Even though you are better off, a loss like this always hurts. Stay strong, and you will find the people who deserve your friendship. Thanks for your comments.

    @ Anonymous – I’m not sure if you’re referring to my original post or one of the comments, but it’s easy to criticize and find fault when you’re hiding behind the “anonymous” persona. I am a very giving, caring friend, as my friends (including CeeBee, who posted above) could tell you. But there’s a difference between doing for others and becoming a selfless martyr who gets treated like crap. One can be a good friend and still expect the same in return. Yes, there are many hurting people in the world, but if we try to be there for all of them (especially the ones who won’t help themselves or give anything back) we will deplete all of our energy and resources and not have anything left for those who truly deserve our love and support.

    Reply
  12. Chris

    @ Anonymous – The universe is an ineffably wonderful and complex place. Perhaps those perennially toxic and emotionally-draining ‘friends’ were put here to teach us patience and kindness. On the other hand, perhaps I was put here to teach them self-reliance and consideration of others.

    Turning the issue around, if you consider a person who takes but never gives, and then a person who gives support but never receives any, who is most in need of learning the importance of love and giving? Surely it would be the first person. One might argue that the second person would be doing the first an injustice by continuing to validate this behaviour.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    Reply

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