Friends and Foes: Vital Qualities Worth Searching for and How to Spot the Users

    Friends and Foes
    “Angry woman…” © AntonioGuillem.

    Some people don’t have friends. I’m not talking about family members. I’m talking about complete strangers that you meet by chance, get to know, and talk to regularly. Those either don’t exist for some people, or they’re extremely limited in number. Maybe you can’t fathom the idea because you have six thousand friends on social media, you’re always busy hanging out with someone new, and you’ve never known anything other than popularity. Good for you. Some of us aren’t so popular.

    I hate to admit it, but most people don’t like me. I’m opinionated; I’m a control freak; I’m a perfectionist; I’m bossy; and I can be blunt. Most people will not appreciate blunt honesty. I’m sorry, but if you ask me whether those jeans make you look fat, I will say so if I think they do. My philosophy? Don’t ask me if you don’t really want to know. 

    How could I be capable of providing you with these “vital qualities” to search for in a friend? Glad you asked. It’s by knowing myself. I know what kind of friend I am — or would be — to others. I’m the type who would put my kids in the car at 3 a.m. to come get you off the side of the road in a thunderstorm because your car broke down. I really would, and those are the types of friends I want to have. Unfortunately, I continue my search while wondering if I’m the problem. Do the qualities I expect even exist?

    They’re always around.

    Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? You can always rely on a real friend; and believe it or not, true reliability is a character trait that’s hard to come by. If a solution to your problem can be found, a friend will help you find it; and they’ll do whatever they can to find it. They’ll be there for you no matter how far they have to travel, what time of day it is, or what plans they have to postpone. If you accumulate enough friends of this type, they’ll compete with each other to see who can make you the happiest or help you the most. Lucky you, if you reach this point; just don’t let it go to your head. You have to be there for them too.

    They can’t be found.

    On the flip side, their presence can be hit and miss, which brings me to my next point. If they always seem to have an ulterior motive for spending time with you (i.e., warming you up before asking for a favor), ditch them — fast! I like to call them takers, and they’re everywhere. You can’t depend on them for a thing, and you’ll only hear from them when they want something from you. You need to kick this in the backside right away. Let them know you have them figured out, and you won’t tolerate it. Odds are, you’ll never see them again; but they weren’t good for you anyway.

    They hear you out.

    We all need someone to listen once in a while and provide that all-important shoulder to cry on. A real friend listens. You have their undivided attention while you’re speaking; they don’t judge the things you share with them; and they don’t wait for you to pause just so they can jump in with their unrequested advice. Some people don’t want advice, and they certainly don’t want your opinion on their issues. They just want to be heard. Always remember, though, that listening is a two-way street. You can’t expect them to listen to your troubles if you don’t do the same for them.

    They make you doubt.

    They might start out by listening to you, but they’re soon distracted by something else — usually a cell phone. You get the occasional, “Uh huh” while they scroll through social media and never make eye contact with you. Cell phones, texting, and social media are really important to some people, so I won’t say these types of people are bad friends; but they are definitely not the types to be confiding in for emotional support. A good test of friendship quality is to observe how often they expect you to listen to their problems. If they’re always expecting you to listen, but they vanish when you need them, it’s time to reevaluate the relationship.

    They accept your flaws.

    We all have our quirks. Some of us alphabetize our canned goods; some of us dye our hair a different color of the rainbow every week; some of us actually enjoy Brussels sprouts; and some of us bite our fingernails and spit them across the room. A real friend doesn’t make fun or criticize you for your quirk, and it may just be one of the things they love the most about you. Maybe they have the same quirk, and that’s how you became friends; or maybe you’re complete opposites who embrace each other’s differences. A true friend will do whatever it takes to preserve the bond you share, and that includes dodging your flying fingernails.

    They expose their claws.

    “I can’t believe you eat Brussels sprouts. That’s so disgusting. By the way, I think your stylist used too much green this time. Your hair looks awful.” Judgmental comments come from people who are unhappy with themselves. Instead of focusing on their own faults, they jump at the opportunity to point out everyone else’s. If you let them, they will demolish your self-esteem. They’ll criticize everything you love and enjoy that they don’t, hoping you’ll give those things up. If they’re a seasoned critic, there’s probably not much you can do in this situation except say goodbye. It might hurt at first, but your self-esteem will thank you.

    Final thoughts

    It must be nice to have one of those magnetizing personalities where people just can’t seem to stay away, undeniably making you the leader of the group. I’ve been lucky enough to witness this a few times. They weren’t flocking to me, of course; but it was still an amazing thing to see. I felt like I was watching a pack of wolves gathering around the alpha. Alas, I was left imagining what that must be like.

    I know that lasting friendships exist and, therefore, can be found. It just seems harder than ever in today’s world to find someone who doesn’t have a master plan of deceit up their sleeve. Maybe they start out as a loyal confidant, but they can just as quickly become conniving — especially if you confide in them with anything they might be able to use against you later. If you let down your guard, that’s when they attack — just like a wolf on the hunt.

    Ultimately, I decided that it’s better to have no friends at all than a whole group or even one that might betray me. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped looking. I just insist they have the positive qualities I’ve mentioned here. Personally, I don’t think I’m asking too much. Maybe I’m wrong.

    What qualities do you look for in a friend? If you’re loved by all, what’s your secret? Be sure to let me know in the comments.

    Candidly yours,


    Copyright © 2021-2024 Irene Bratton

    Plain-language Required Disclaimer:

    I am not a medical or legal professional. The information in this article is based solely on personal experience and my honest opinion. This article should not be considered either medical or legal advice, and may or may not be appropriate for your specific situation, the details of which are totally unknown to me.

    Accordingly, I cannot take responsibility for any adverse event which might occur if you choose to follow the advice given, in whole or in part, which you do at your own risk. Consider it “food for thought” rather than expert guidance.

    Please seek a qualified medical or legal practitioner for a professional assessment of your exact circumstances if your health, safety, and/or some other important aspect of your life is involved.

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