Self help: Who are your real friends?

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I think our friendship is lopsided: where one person is more invested in the relationship than the other. Apparently, I’m not the only one who has poor judgment when it comes to knowing who my friends are. According to a study published last year in the scientific journal PLoS One, of the friendships that were reported to be reciprocal, only half of them actually were. Generally speaking, only 50% of our friends feel the same way about us. The study’s findings added that we are poor at perceiving friendship non-reciprocity, because to do so challenges our self-image.

Just as in romantic relationships, some friends are just not that into us, and there’s nothing like declining a wedding invitation to hit that message home. Deep down, I think I already knew how she felt about me and knowing that probably made me want to please her, or convince her of my specialness. I am not sure if we generally are, deep down, bad at judging friendships. In many cases, we know how the other party feels but we try to believe otherwise. We may do so because it validates our esteem. We may admire them and model ourselves on them. So if they like us, then we are somehow just as worthy or as good as them. Any self-help guru would set us straight: the only validation we should seek is from within, not from without.

Of course, I am guilty of being a lopsided friend: there are people whose weddings I attended, who are not invited to mine. I’ve let people down by bailing out of an arrangement at the last minute, not being honest about my feelings, and cruelly, just not caring about them as much as they did me. I’ve been both victim and perpetrator. What I’ve learnt over time is to manage both my expectations and others (of which I am far from mastering the art), try to empathize or at least sympathize, and finally, be magnanimous, just as I am slowly being with my friend. I hope that those people I hurt will in turn do the same. These experiences also teach me to take people as they are, and only invest in them as much as they invest in me; another piece of advice from the romantic relationship realm.

When it comes to my wedding day, I will be assured that the people who really are my friends, will be there: out of kinship, love, loyalty and duty. If these are what I consider the elements of friendship, then there is no room for lop-sidedness.