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Friend or Foe?


I am reminded of the court scene in the film “A Few Good Men” where Jack Nicholson (the defendant) challenges the interrogator (Tom Cruise) on whether he would really like to hear the truth, and Tom answers steadfastly “Yes”. Jack shouts back and says “You can’t handle the truth”. Now, I ask “Can you handle a real friendship?” Can you handle the truth when your friend(s) tells it to you as it is? Do you really want the truth, or do you want someone to agree with whatever you say or want?

When is a friend a foe or really a friend? For all my faults, I’ve always been one of those friends regarded as blunt, and I must say I have gotten myself into trouble on that account a couple of times. I’d like to think and hope that when my friends want a truthful and sincere answer or opinion they can rely one me. And I’d always rather be truthful or not say anything however hard it may be, else why am I a friend. Saying that I’m guilty of times when the truth has been too hard or uncomfortable for me to say, that in itself raises another question about whether it is hard to say or just uncomfortable?

Let’s look at what it means to be a friend; it starts with having something in common; whether a hobby, belonging to the same church or club, being work colleagues or just generally sharing the same interests and vision. And most importantly I believe somebody who will be honest with you. Let’s look at some instances that would usually call for some honesty; would you tell a friend she did not look good in an outfit? That sound easy, right? Okay, would you tell her some home truths when required like “Sista get off your backside and get yourself a job” when you know she is being lazy, or”Sweetie that man ain’t good for you”. Or would you rather not be confrontational, mind your supposed business and smile sweetly at them all the time, like you have not got something on your mind you’d like to share.

I’ve always maintained that in order to be a friend, you have to be prepared to lose that friendship for the sake of being honest. Have you ever noticed that when someone messes up, or is out with a group of friends and is not dressed properly, the first thing people tend to say is “Didn’t her friends say somethings to her?” that tells us that as friends, there is an expectation on us to honestly look out for our friends. The minute we choose not be honest with the friend at the risk of losing the friendship, we loose the right to be called a friend and become an acquaintance if not foe. When we stop thinking about the friend, and concentrate only on the repercussions to ourselves, I dare say that we have become selfish, which is not part of the friendship equation. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

Maybe we need to realise that there are different kinds of friendships ‘casual’, ‘close’, ‘confidant’… and depending on which, expectations should differ.

While on this subject of expectations, I’m sure you will agree with me that some expectations can seem a bit too high; like when we expect them to be our emotional slaves; when we want them to do for us, each and everything we do and/or have ever done for them as friends.

I have learnt something about friendships, and continue to learn; what one friend would do for me, another wouldn’t, and vice versa. I’ve learnt to recognise the strengths & weaknesses of each of my friends and treat them accordingly, instead of judging them by the same yardstick. I’ve learnt also not to set too high expectations of my friends or be too demanding. I’ve learnt to appreciate the friends I have and recognise them for the gift they truly are. I’ve learnt that despite what people may think or say, I will continue to be as honest as I can be with those I regard as “Friends”. As I write the word “friend” for the last time, I dare say that maybe the whole problem lies in fact that the term is used to loosely? Tara for now

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About The Author

Change Consultant, Coach & Speaker

Founder of Inspiring Women Worldwide, Principle Coach & Consultant at, and Inspirational ‘Tell it like it is’ speaker who is passionate about working with Individuals and Teams to achieve their desired goals.

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