Today’s lesson is about figuring out if you’re a bad friend or a good friend. A true friend knows how to remove themselves from the picture and try to understand their friend more deeply. A true friend realizes when they should put their friend’s feelings before their own. That doesn’t mean you’re unaffected, it just means you’re protecting the person who would be affected MORE. If it annoys you on a scale of three but hurts your friend on a scale of 5-7 then guess what? Keep your mouth shut because you think you’re funny. It’s not comrade-ary, it’s scarring. You’re selfish as shit if you don’t realize this. The thing about being selfish is that you usually don’t realize you’re being selfish because you’re too wrapped up in what you’re doing to realize what you are ACTUALLY DOING. Get me?
This is a hard concept for most young Americans to understand…hell, people from anywhere at any age…but I know it’s super hard to understand but…not everything is about you. Just because you have a chance to be clever or whatever doesn’t mean that it’s about you or should use your friend to show off HOW CLEVER YOU -THINK- YOU ARE. Save that for the internet so you can make strangers feel like shit so you can feel clever and important. You know, if you’re a major douchebag with a capital D. You know, like everyone else that doesn’t have a soul. Better yet, turn that cleverness on yourself and feel that pain you cause and THEN fix your shit and maybe THEN you’ll be worthy OF THE TITLE OF “FRIEND”. Being a friend is not a right, it’s earned. Every. Single. Time. Being cool with someone isn’t the same being a friend. A friend is someone who cares about you. Who will be there for you.You get friends because of your personality but you KEEP THEM if you’re caring and compassionate and are sensitive to what is important for them. That shit isn’t just for boy/girlfriends and husbands/wives you know. It’s for absolutely everyone.
IT’S A JOB OF A FRIEND to know what things are okay to joke about and what things aren’t. We all have our sensitive topics that are better not to be breached…or if it is… wait for your friend to do it and even then take it seriously. It doesn’t matter if YOU think it’s funny if it HURTS THEM. It’s not them being sensitive. It’s them drawing a line and asking you to respect them enough to NOT CROSS IT. Because you’d only be doing it for yourself and not for your friend who you’re supposed to care about.
People…at least TRY try to make it NOT ABOUT YOU and it’s definitely NOT OKAY TO MAKE THEM FEEL LIKE SHIT SO YOU CAN FEEL CLEVER. I know it’s hard for you but you won’t have any friends if you keep that shitattude up. I’ll be the first to jump the USS Shitty Friend ship. I’d rather swim to shore than in one of your self-important life boats. If you think it’s okay to do this then guess what? You’re a shitty friend. Stop being friends with someone. “let yourself go” from the friend-world and go munch on rocks until your teeth break because that’s about at your level. Maybe the sensitivity of your OWN TEETH will make you understand how raw and painful you made your friend ON THE INSIDE.
Now, most people don’t get cut to the quick as quickly as I do. I know I’m sensitive but the same rules DO APPLY. Some people can probably just take more than I can. I give people a three strike rule and for every person it’s different depending on who they are, what they’ve been through and how selfish they are. It’s not about accidentally hurting your feelings it’s about doing it anyway when you know better. Everyone has lines they won’t cross in order to keep their sanity. Sometimes crossing that line is a mind field and it only blows up inside themselves. You get to skip from one mine to the next but it’s your friend that takes all the damage.
It can be different if…
The make fun of themselves for it (it’s usually better to not say anything though. People, for example, can make fun of themselves for being fat but feel hurt if other people do it.
It can be different if…
Don’t make fun of a friend in school for being special ed in a subject. It doesn’t make them stupid. If you think that then you’re the one that needs to be in a class for “stupid people” since you think that’s what it’s all about it. Even if they DO make fun of themselves IT DOESNT MEAN YOU GET TO. It doesn’t matter about the logic it’s that they expect love from a friend.
It can be different if…
They are totally okay with it. It may be awkward but ASK THEM HOW THEY FEEL. I know that’s hard for guy friends since they don’t do the whole touchy-feely thing that often but there are ways to find out if things are okay with them if you feel uncomfortable with the straight up approach. If you’re friends you should be able to at least guess at what makes them hurt all the time on the inside…because don’t we all? The last thing people need is to be made fun of for feeling the thing that hurts them most.
There are a bunch of other “it can be different if…” and I’m not going to list them all because it would take way, way too long. Here are some other things not to make fun of your friends about…since if you’ve read this far (and you’re pissed off about it) then this post is probably for you. So here are some examples of things to not touch with your humor. Again, it should be applied to person to person depending on what would hurt them.
Obesity. Show support!
Intellect. Show support!
Level of education (there is a difference) Show support!
Religion. Show support!
Ethnic group. Show support!
Political affiliation.Show support!
Physical appearance. Show support!
Anything your friend really, really loves. Show support!
Anything that gives them comfort. Show support!
Medications. Show support!
Diseases. Show support!
Disorders. Show support!
Hobbies they are trying to make passable. Show support!
Family problems. Show support!
Their problems with substance abuse. Show support!
The person they’re in love with. Show support!
I know, on TV that sort of comedy that is pretty much the only humor that is actually .I basically just took away all the good jokes. But you’re not on TV. You’re a friend. Being a GOOD FRIEND should be one of the things you strive most to be in this world. Being a good friend is not only valuable to yourself but everyone around you. It’s a way to prove you’re a good person. You know, instead of inspiring to be the next winner of American Idol you can refine your social habits first and THEN you can have a bunch of strangers judge you. There is very little humor that doesn’t touch the topics listed above in the media but guess what? You’re not a comedian. Even if you think you are you still have a likely chance of making your friend cry once you leave and it’s “safe” to do so.
When I say “show support” on subjects like obesity and substance abuse problems I mean be there for them when they need to talk about it. Always try to make them feel better about themselves. I can count on one hand the fingers of “friends” that would do that for me. Just to let me be upset and then help me with my problem. Do you think you’re one of them? If not, why not?
If you are really their friend these are just part of the package of someone you love and care about. Friendship is about love. Friendship is about caring. Friendship is about commitment. In a lot of ways friendship isn’t all that different than having a lover. It’s just platonic. That’s what I try to do. I try to treat every person I meet the same way with the same openness and kindness that I’d want from a lover or…from anyone, really. It’s about human kindness. Not a quick zinger.
Don’t use any of these unless you know your friend can genuinely laugh at them too and won’t just clam out or give out a half hearted, golf clap-esque laugh. This isn’t something you “just get to do” with every friend. One friend may no appreciate being called an emo when they’re struggling with clinical depression.A friend may not enjoy someone making fun of their father because of his meth problem. A friend may not appreciate you calling their girlfriend fat or ugly. I had a good friend make fun of my disability once and I refused to say anything more than a non-commital grunt until all of the other friends got out of the car. I never do the silent treatment. I’m too much of a talker. Instead, once it was just us in the car,I explained how it made me feel and why. I didn’t yell I just explained it. I wanted to, I was so enraged that he’d known me for so long and somehow thought it would be okay… However, I knew that nothing ever gets better if you yell. You just do more damage and sometimes that isn’t fixable. You can’t control how shitty your friend is but you can try to control how you socially react to it. I wanted to keep him as a friend so I took the mature approach and sobbed into my pillow later. The next day I saw him and I was outwardly fine, but I’m sure the hostility and pain was still in my eyes. I was trained to interpret body language but your eyes are a window to the soul and it’s very difficult to keep that shine out of your eyes. We were friends for a year or so after…but now he makes zero effort to talk to me anymore. Perhaps because I was too sensitive? Perhaps because there wasn’t enough compassion to try and understand it. I will never know, will I? It’s been years and I still think about it. It could be my own incapacity to let shit go…but I was never even given an explanation. I would have and I do when I “break up” with a friend. It still hurts. It hurts because there was no closure. A lack of closure is one of the things that bother me most in the world. If there is no closure I tend to dwell.
Sensitive friends reacting in a calm manner is obviously better than exploding. Just explain it as calmly as you can and if they still won’t stop just kick them to the curb because they aren’t good enough for you anyway. They’d rather hurt you so they can have a three second laugh and then forget about it forever. But you don’t forget do you? Does it go on nagging at your heart, making you want to cry every time you see that person who is supposed to love you and know you better? Does it make your trust in them shatter? Strike one, pal. Say it with me: It’s strike one against your “friend”.
It’s really a shame when a friend gets two strikes in a short period of time.
Even worse when it’s a friend you’ve known for years. By the third strike you’re chaffing at the bit and just want to bolt. Protect yourself from the person that hurts you and doesn’t care even though you care. That bit of advice carries over to lovers too. If he/she hurts you and then punishes you for how YOU REACT to THEIR CRUELTY then they’re not a person that deserves a love. Ever. Or if they do, someone as shitty as them. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have a lover like this get out of the relationship ASAP because they’re abusive and that WON’T CHANGE no matter what you do or how much counseling that happens. In their mind they will never be wrong and the other person will always be a liar. Trust me. My last serious relationship before my current one was nothing but this. Dr Phil would have had a field day with my last boyfriend. At least my current boyfriend is more of a man than my ex ever will. The shitty “friends” won’t stop either. Forgive the people that wronged you, if you can, but don’t forget what they did. Look for patterns in everyone and everything because as Da Vinci said, “Learn to see. Everything is connected to everything else”…you don’t have to dig very deep to find the truth of Leonardo’s words.
You may not be a mind reader but you ARE a friend. The only way that this subject should be “more about you than them” is when you analyze your own behavior and realize any acute pain you may be causing.
More people need to think “This isn’t about me” when it’s clear who is in more pain. You because you don’t get to crack or gem or your friend who feels like their chest cavity just metaphorically crumpled in from the suppression of the pain from YOUR SLINGS AND ARROWS.
I say this from experience. I know I’m sensitive. At the same time I’ve only met a couple people who had been through more shit than I’ve been. THEY know what it’s like to have someone who is supposed to love you make you feel flawed and undeserving. If you have a friend that is dealing with depression (vs “just depressed”, that’s a subject for another day)
I ask you, are people that hold their humor above how much it might hurt you in the wrong? Or the person that is hurting. I go out of my way to make sure I can realize as many “hurty hot spots” as I can to minimize the damage. Of course, we all fuck up, and find out the hard way but if you DO make sure you apologize and say you didn’t realize and won’t do it again because they are THAT important to you. If they’re important to you the ACT LIKE IT. I promise you, you aren’t that funny in comparison to the damage you’re doing to them.
It’s not as simple as “learning how to take a joke” because it HURTS. It CONTINUES TO HURT. How can they believe you love them if you can’t even be bothered to be kind back?