“If you think it is better to be right than to be kind then you are probably a toxic friend!”
The Value of Friendship
I’ve had a lot of change in my life over the last eighteen months. The kids left home; circumstances have been such that I’ve not seen much of my husband; I quit work and now my husband and I are leaving the country we’ve called home for the last 18 years to figure out our next steps. Added to this is the Corona virus lockdown stress. Throughout all this change I’ve had the support of some great people who have taught me what ‘true’ friendship is. It has made me consider the differences between a ‘real’ friend and a ‘fairweather’ friend. Which are you?
A ‘Real’ Friend …
Checks in on you. A good friend doesn’t have to be in touch every day, but you are sufficiently on their radar that they frequently check in on you. This might be a simple text or quick phone call, but they remind you that they are there and that they care.
Doesn’t gossip about you. A good friend is someone you can trust not to chat to other friends (even mutual ones) about you and your business. A good friend needs to be someone you can trust.
Doesn’t always talk about themselves. A good friend is likely to have excellent empathy skills and be able to put themselves in your shoes and understand what you are experiencing during a time of change. They are a sympathetic listener.
Tells you the truth. A good friend tells you the truth (unless that haircut really is as bad as you think it is!) Being truthful can be hard when it might entail telling you something you don’t want to hear. A good friend won’t shy away from this difficult task.
Has your back. A good friend will always stick up for you and support you to others. Rather like family, you might feel irritated by them, but woe betide anyone else who speaks ill of them.
Is helpful. A good friend will be happy to do favours for you and ask if you need any help with a difficult situation. A good friend won’t mind putting themselves out for you and would hope that you would do the same for them.
Boosts you when you’re down. That’s not to say a good friend should always be buying gifts and cards, but they will demonstrate kindness to pick you up.
Is forgiving. A good friend will allow you the odd lapse of manners or grumpiness, but only to a point. They have too much esteem for the friendship and you to allow you to not treat it respectfully.
A ‘Fairweather’ Friend …
Disappears from the scene. A fairweather friend will be fully aware that you are going through a tough time, but when the going gets tough they will still disappear from your life. They aren’t necessarily being nasty or toxic, but they are not invested enough in your friendship to stay present and supportive.
Is opportunistic. A fairweather friend will wish to be friends with you whilst the friendship is beneficial to them. Whilst you are lending a sympathetic ear to them, or being an amusing companion, they will seem to nurture the friendship. As soon as they have nothing to gain from it, then they will drift out of your life.
Takes not gives. A fairweather friend will leave you exhausted by continually putting themselves first in the friendship. They will expect you to be there for them 24/7, whilst paying scant attention to your needs. Ironically, they won’t realise that they are doing this and will probably feel that any discord or disharmony has been caused by you. Poor communication can often turn relationships with fairweather friends somewhat toxic.
Dumps you for a better offer. A fairweather friend is probably also a ‘FOMO’ (Fear of Missing Out) type of person. Even if they have made a long standing arrangement with you, they are likely to dump you if a better offer crops up.
Can not be relied on to help in a crisis. Should you find yourself with a broken-down car, a fairweather friend will not put themselves out to help you. If it’s raining outside you’re on your own!
Does not keep confidences. Should you find yourself with a broken heart a fairweather friend may appear to be there for you, but watch out as you may quickly find your private life has been broadcast to everyone in the neighbourhood.
Don’t confuse Fairweather with Toxic Friends
I’m of the mindset that ‘fairweather friends’ aren’t necessarily ‘bad’ human-beings or toxic friends. They are quite likely just busy people getting on with their own lives. On occasions it is necessary to accept that you and your needs are simply not high on the agenda of a ‘fairweather’ friend.
Don’t judge fairweather friends too harshly; they can be fun to spend time with! Many of us have people we hang out with who we like and know quite well, but wouldn’t necessarily categorize as close friends; rather they are chums or mates. It’s quite likely that you might find yourself being a ‘fairweather’ friend to these people sometimes.
If the behaviour of ‘fairweather’ friends resonates a little too much with your own behaviour, then why not take stock of your actions? By investing a little more time and effort into relationships you will stop being a ‘fairweather friend and become a ‘real’ friend. This will be more rewarding for all concerned.
(Passionate about education, reading and writing, Sally is an enthusiastic blogger. In Book and Family Chat she frequently posts from the perspective of a fifty year old, fun-loving mum on all things family, book, family and travel related. As an ex Head of Libraries and English teacher she has published several children’s books.)