I read once that if you have no enemies, you have no friends. While no enemies have revealed themselves to-date, there are times when I wonder who is using an effigy to stick those pins in. I find friendships complicated; some friends are superficial and others kind caring souls, with whom I have developed a special bond. I make friends easily, but whether they fit into my ‘real friend’ zone is never known until we both complete some sort of friendship courting dance. As with a first date, there is always an attraction and you both have expectations on what the friendship will be, but they are usually unknown or not initially revealed.
During the courting period, and after some revealing and sharing, some of these people will fit into my ‘real friend’, ‘acquaintance’ or ‘maybe friend’ zones and others my ‘cautious’ zone.It is rare for someone to fall into my ‘real friend’ zone instantly. In fact, those friends who do, I can count on one hand.
As a young girl, my friends were mainly picked by who I was seated next to at school or those who wanted to play at lunch, or allocated in my sports faction group. Other friendships were made because they were useful, that is, they lived a close walking distance to my home, had lots of toys or lollies to share, or allowed me to ride their two-wheeler bike. That’s kids though, they don’t question or complicate things, they just selfishly look out for themselves.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager, I learned what a best friend really was. At age 15 I met a ‘bestie’ and through that friendship, I learned many life skills. Sadly, not all of them good. We shared many experiences; smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, dating boys, breaking curfews and dressing to impress. We also chatted intimately about sex with boys, foreplay, orgasms and how far you could go without getting pregnant. We remain good friends today, 50-plus years later, and this friend fits snuggly into my ‘real friend’ zone.
Over time, I have had many friends and friendships, made through work, social and sporting activities. Some of those friendships I have outgrown, just as those friends have outgrown me or we have moved on to befriend more like-minded people. Other so-called friends I have relegated to the, ‘I never want to see you again’ zone as I declare them guilty of not understanding, respecting or valuing my friendship.
Other friends, who initially made it to the ‘real friend’ zone have since been relegated to the ‘questionable (do I really want them in my life?)’ zone as I declare them guilty of varying friendship misdemeanours, including socially ostracising me, listening to my inner most secrets then using them against me, manipulation for personal gain, and the worst sin of all (in my book), listening and nodding wisely, pretending to understand and then disappearing when I needed them most.
Following some interesting and bad experiences, I have now strategically relegated my neighbours to the ‘cautious zone’. It took a while, but I finally got it into my head neighbours can very quickly become enemies and you don’t want enemies living next door or peeping over your back fence.
Again, through experience, there are people I would never again source to enter any friend zones. They are aggressive, loud and dangerous people, some relatives — not restricted to daughter-, son-, mother- and father-in-laws, and for obvious reasons ex-boyfriends, love cheats and ex-husbands.
The friendships I enjoy most are with people of similar interests with diverse backgrounds and lots of common sense. I have difficulty friending conversation hogs and people who only talk about themselves or their amazing grandchildren — God forbid I have some of my own, so I don’t need to know their grandies’ every achievement.
I wonder sometimes, if I am over complicating things by categorising friendships, but I do have expectations just as I am sure others do. I work to maintain healthy friendships and am fortunate my ‘real friends’ possess the following attributes: kindness, honesty, listen as well as they converse, enjoy a good laugh, show loyalty while still being honest, are entertaining and enjoy a good wine over lunch.