Tuesday Reality Check – is your friend really your friend?

Editorial Vote: Don't start in on me about the picture. These two are the definition of "frenemy" if ever I saw one.

There was a time in third grade when Nanette Albaum yanked out my ponytail holders and watched in glee as my neat plaits turned into fly away afro puffs waving about in the scorching Texas humidity. She was sent to sit in the corner but I still had to walk around the rest of the day looking like Pippi Longstocking's beat down play cousin. When I asked BougieMom why she did that; she said simply, "She's not your friend."

Since those days, I've found that friendship (or lack thereof) has become a bit more complicated. I have learned the difference between acquaintances and friends. I have learned that people you were friends with at age 12 don't necessarily stay your friends through your 20s and 30s. And that's okay. People change and evolve (hopefully). Your evolution may take friends in and out of your orbit. As I've gotten older, I'm far more selective in my friendships but I'm able to make friends with people for different reasons. They don't all have to think like me, act like me, read what I read or talk like I talk… but they do have to embrace and respect friendship for the gift that it is.

Here are few OneChele ways to tell when a friend is really not a friend:

  • They call to talk but somehow the conversation never gets around to you. As a matter of fact, you never hear from this person unless she/he needs something they know you can provide. Once they have gotten what they wanted, the conversation ends abruptly. I have one "friend" who calls twice a year, talks for 40 minutes about herself, asks me to help her write/look up/cook something and then she's off. Last January when I talked to her; I actually ended the call with, "Talk to you around Labor Day!"

  • They are a little too interested in your SO (Significant Other). They have a lot of questions about the status of your relationship, they want to share intimate details you have no intention of sharing. When your SO is around, they seem to be more animated about it then you are. One former friend kept offering to pick up my SO from the airport for me. Said she would "entertain" him until I got home from work. I was born at night, but not last night, sweetie.

  • They are always "borrowing" things- jewelry, clothes, food, rent money… that you never see again. This means you L.A.T., where is my sequined Tahari bolero jacket and the "few dollars" to get your car fixed? It's been over 12 years. I'm trying to let it go, but that jacket was cute.

  • They never have anything positive to say. Have you met those all cloud-no silver lining people? The glass isn't even half empty; it's bone dry and kicked to the floor in broken pieces. You can't go anywhere with them without them pointing out the negative aspects. Had a male friend who could walk into a party and bring down the house (in a bad way) in five minutes flat. He had complaints about the food, the bar, the music, the caliber of women, the location and the dress code. Why did you come then? You did know it was a party, right?

  • Drama is attracted to them like tornados to trailer parks in Texas. You know the drama is coming; it's just a matter of time. Drama follows them everywhere. And when it doesn't follow them, they go looking for it. When someone starts a story with, "I was just minding my own business when…" No they weren't, they were looking to hop on the Drama-Train and take you along for the ride.

  • Something about them is just a wee bit crazier than you'd like. Sitting in a Sisters' Circle meeting, one sister that I was becoming good friends with regaled us with a story that started with her scaling her boyfriend's fence with her night-vision goggles on to break into his home and check his voicemail. By the time she got to the part of the story that involved smashing his windshield with a pumpkin, I was too through. There was so much wrong with her and her story, it's worthy of its own post on When Bougie Meets Crazy. Suffice it to say, I wasn't not sure I needed to be friends with someone who owned her own set of night-vision goggles.

  • They block your action. Guy meets girl, guy likes girl, guy's friend comes over and talks about (insert any random topic here) for twenty minutes until girl walks away regretfully. Or… girl meets guy, girl and guy flirt, girl's friend comes over and starts asking guy if her skirt is too tight, "do I look slutty in this?" Blocking, not pretty, not friendly.

  • Your achievements make them sad but their achievements must be celebrated… again and again. You call to tell them you just got a promotion and they say, "Oh well, did I tell you about the award I won?" You lose 25 pounds and they say, "I'm so glad I never have to worry about my weight." Cut them. Now. I mean it, stop reading, call them up and tell them you are out.

  • Anything you can do, they can do better. Someone once said, "Only one person can be Batman, someone else has to be Robin." Do you always play sidekick to their Superhero? Never get to wear the cape? Grab a chance to be the Leading Lady/Man in your own screenplay every once in a while. Review the balance of power in your friendships and see what can be done to even them out.

  • You have absolutely nothing in common anymore but the fact that you have been friends for sooooo long. If all your time spent together is based on things you USED to do and places you USED to go, your friendship may be stuck in the past. If a lot of your conversations involve, "Man, remember when we…" It's a sign. Look for things that you have in common besides the past.

Disclaimer: OneChele is not a degreed psychologist or socialist. Don't go running out there cutting folks off and blaming that stuff on me. I'm a student of life, sharing what little knowledge and observation I've garnered over the years. The decision to keep or cut someone is one that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Any other tell-tale signs that your friend is more like a frenemy? What are your thought on the who "friends close, enemies closer" rule?