During our teens and early twenties, friends are almost everything. They are our contact with the outside world. They are the bushels we measure ourselves against. They are our examples, our happiness, our pride, our inspiration. We would do anything for them, just as, we assume, they would do their best for us.
As we grow older however, reality not only intrudes on this idyllic land of make-believe, but it also literally blows all our concepts of friendship away, and opens our eyes. There comes a point in every person’s life when they realise that people, really and truly, first and foremost, look out solely for themselves. This may seem a bit disillusioned or negative. However, once university is over and our normal working lives start, and once the glory and the glitz of drunk Saturday nights and sunny Sunday afternoons spent dancing on the beach are over, we have to face the cold dark truth – certain ‘friends’ are only there for the good times, but once the alcohol is finished and the sound system is switched off, they just disappear into thin air.
Not all friends are like that, of course. Some of my oldest and closest friends were there for me through thick and thin and not just when things were rosy. However, one can usually count true friends on only one or two hands. Most of those we call ‘friends’ in our naïve blindness actually reveal themselves to be nothing more than seasonal acquaintances.
Here are a few of the types of friends I have encountered throughout the years. If you are honest with yourself, I’m sure you can recognise a couple of these types yourself too.
The Opportunist – These people are always waiting in the sidelines. Peering to see if you are offering a free drink, a free lift, a free ticket to somewhere. They may even hang around you for a while, if they think you will always be there to offer advice or provide a listening ear to their troubles. If you have a new PS4 game they want to try or a hot sister they want to hit on, they start coming to your place almost every day, however you are mistaken if you think they do this because they like you. When things change and it’s your turn to need some help, you end up seeing only the back of their heads as they run off.
The Hanger-On – If you are bright, energetic and fun to be around, you will naturally attract these kind of people. They are generally socially awkward and shy, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, as time passes, you start to realise that they hang onto you just because they like using you as a launching pad – a way to get into the in-crowd at weekends or to get invited to certain events. They are only there when it’s socially fun for them to be present. In other words, they only go out with you because they have no one else.
The Hypocrites – They flatter you, they laugh at your jokes, they hug you and say you are like family, then you turn around and realise that they merely got close to you because they’re envious and just want to know all your secrets and what you are about… before putting you up as the main topic of gossip with others, and tell everyone else.
The Social Butterflies – They love you intensely for a week, then they start ignoring you for someone newer. It could be that you did some minor social gaffe that you dared to fancy the guy they want to go out with, or that you disagreed with them publicly. If you do anything to undermine their prima donna authority, if you step out of line of their pre-determined regime, you become last season’s dead meat.
The Playgirl/Playboy – You laugh together, you have fun, you whisper in corners, but once a hunk/gal is spotted, off they go, leaving you trailing behind like a broken doll. And if s/he had promised you a lift back home afterwards, you can forget it. Apparently, once some fresh meat is on the radar, you don’t exist anymore. If they’re in a relationship, they totally forget you, do not message, do not meet up, do not even remember you when they see you online to chat. Then, when the relationship is over, they suddenly remember you exist and want to meet up for cocktails … sounds familiar?
The Competition Freak – You have a new hair-cut; s/he gets one too. You have two dates with two different guys/girls in one week; s/he has three. You buy a new bike; s/he buys a car. You buy some new clothes; s/he buys clothes for the whole season. You get an iPhone; s/he suddenly has a new laptop, a new tablet, and a 52” TV. You like to cook and post a photo of some muffins you baked on Facebook; they invite you over for a five course meal, giving you tips you can use when you try to cook their recipes, and posting an online photo of you eating their creations.
The Narcissistic Divas / Energy Vampires – The world revolves around them. You only talk about their problems, their issues, their experiences, their new partner, and their struggles. Nothing else exists. They suck your energy and vitality, pumping you with negative thoughts until your ‘friendship’ is nothing more than a way of putting them in the limelight. You are a henchman, a hand-maiden, the person who holds their bag, drives them around, and gets to listen to their whining. You do this because you think they like you and find you special, when in reality they are just using you.
Have you ever had any ‘friends’ like these? Can you add more categories to the list?