1. A friend accepts you for who you are, and loves everything about you.
Myth. A friend knows you, understands you, in the same way that you know that you want coffee in the morning, your dog likes to have his belly rubbed but hates the rain and will puke if given any kind of rawhide treat, and your mother likes to be called once a week but seldom picks up the phone because really, she just needs to know that she is still your mom even though you have kids of your own and live 300 miles away. A friend is not required to love every detail of your character; love is much less temperamental than that. A friend is not required to be ok with every decision you make, every action you take. A friend is someone who knows, and, more crucially, knows why. Her opinions on the issue at hand are still her own. It is her handling of her opinions that affects the friendship; not that she had them in the first place.
2. A friend can be long distance; in a real friendship, distance doesn’t matter.
Fact. It can be tiresome, sure. But friendship doesn’t require face time or frequent affirmations; these things add beautiful depth and nuance to a relationship, but quantity doesn’t inevitably lead to quality. There’s a reason some friendships pick up right where they ended, even if years have passed since the last get-together. Trust and understanding don’t diminish with distance; they diminish with doubt and fear. Just because distance can breed doubt and fear doesn’t mean that it should, or that it will. Physical closeness is a true, basic, need, but it doesn’t have to be constant or perpetual, and it certainly isn’t required to keep a friendship alive.
3. Communication is paramount.
Fact. I would argue that communication is always paramount. It’s also an art; it’s not going to be perfect, consistent, or balanced at all times, and will almost definitely require fine-tuning, practice, and change. That doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary or pervasively useful. Consistently poor communication is one of the worst unnecessary blights to plague our relationships. It’s easily mended, and yet, the issue is still everywhere. Why do we do it?
4. Some people struggle with various issues, and as a friend, my job is to put up with it.
Myth. The justification for ‘putting up with it’ is frequently: ‘When I struggled with such and such, she was there for me.’ Which is lovely. That doesn’t mean you need to bend over and take it when she insults you, puts you down, and generally proves that she has no respect for you. Does it mean you should ass up when she blathers on about her amazingness for three hours? Maybe. Does it mean you should be patient while she mopes over some guy that wasn’t even worth it, was creepy, and was, moreover, every gaslighting jackass capable of taping together complete sentences? Probably. Issues happen. Stress is real. You’re not going to handle every situation the same as your friend, and patience is key. But if her issues involve how she sees you, and how she makes you feel, your only obligation is to tell her about it and see if she assumes any ownership for it. Which brings me to the next point…
5. Ownership is key.
Fact. FACT DAMMIT. If you cannot own up to your part in shenanigans, then you are not worth commitment. Who commits to someone that will not be accountable for anything they do or affect? What type of investment is that? Ownership is character. Period. No one come at me with a handful of “but sometimes they really are unreasonable” meeping. No. If you are so worried about whether or not people know the difference between abusive behavior and wanting their own fuckforsaken feelings to matter that you cannot read a paragraph on impact over intent without freaking the fuck out over how misunderstood you are, then rethink your need to meep about ‘but sometimes’. No.
A very popular and frequently intricate method of avoiding ownership is the art of faking it. It happens all the time.
Here are some examples of faux ownership:
I’m sorry my comment made you feel that way.
I wish you hadn’t taken my behavior that way.
I shouldn’t have cared so much. Clearly, it caused problems.
I shouldn’t feel things so deeply. Clearly, it caused problems.
I hate that you’re upset.
I’m sorry you don’t understand me from where you are in your life right now; maybe one day, you will have transcended your paltry problems enough to see my enlightened point.
I hate that what I did hurt people, but it couldn’t be helped.
I wish things had happened differently so that I didn’t have to do what I did.
Maybe next time, I won’t feel like I have to do it this way.
I mean, there are so many. People have made an art of faux ownership. Sometimes, they don’t even try to fake it. They just fucking blame everyone else and don’t even care that their ass hat is made of screaming, actively shitting pigeons (aka is apparent to everyone on the planet). It’s spectacular.
I believe in ownership. To the point where I sometimes take ownership for things that aren’t mine. I should stop that; it has lasting effects on my self-image. But still. Ownership is necessary; the only person you can change is yourself. OWN THAT SHIT.
6. Trust and respect are both tied and necessary.
Fact. I find that my doubts and fears accumulate more quickly if trust and respect are on thin ice in a friendship. Respect is, apparently, a really fucking confusing issue for a lot of people. Like your friend tells you every. fucking. time anything awful or stupid is happening at work, and you are all over it talking to supervisors and defending her whenever possible, because you respect her and believe in her and want her to feel supported. And when it’s her turn to do the same for you, because your world is going to shit due to misogynistic, mediocre, blatant, fuckery, she disappears and tells you it’s your fault because maybe you’re too upset and why can’t you just not be upset and get along with everyone. That shit is disrespectful. It is unbalanced. Get the fuck out forever. Very fucking simple.
Respect means you follow through; being vocally supportive is not enough. Don’t toss out a handful of pretty words every time it seems required, and then get bewildered when the words start to have less effect. That’s on you for being a superficial grundlecrusty. If there is consistent and thorough mutual respect, trust will be there.
*the first Myth or Fact post was on my sad wordpress blog. I’ve been toying with the idea of bringing the Myth/Fact posts back, only, possibly, with a little less ire. Hahahaha maybe.
**these are, obviously, my own standards, scored into my reluctant heart after far too much repetitive trial and error. Different people make for different types of friends; it took me a long time to understand my tolerance (or lack thereof) for certain types of relationships.
***I wrote this a while ago. Ahem. Clearly certain things were still pissing me off. I’m less angry? The heartache hasn’t gone anywhere, unfortunately. Either way, I stand by the standards. And, I’ve fucked up a bunch, too. It’s not like I’m an amazing friend or anything. I’m horrible. I never call. Also, I will take the slice of pizza with the most toppings on it, and I will grab it before anyone has had a crack at it and I will not care even a little if kids are waiting. So. #utterasshole