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How to Keep your Friends

October 23, 2002 11:40

Its somewhat a staple of life, that you generally tend to feel the need to protect those that you care about. When the boy shows up to take someone's teenage daughter out on a date for the first time, the father will usually make a point that it would be in the boy's best interest that his precious daughter makes it home safely, unmolested, and as early as possible. Sometimes the manner is subtle, sometimes "I have a 45 and a shovel" is typical. Hair length and the number of tattoos and piercings might affect the severity of that conviction. Despite that, I've heard everything from "Have fun and be careful" to "If she's not home safely, I'll slit your throat".

So when a girl starts talking to a guy her friends, with or without her approval, might take it upon themselves to size up the new guy. And this makes sense. If the guy is a total jerk or has an undesireable past, its easier to observe these things from an unbiased perspective. Sometimes guys won't show their true colors immediately while conversing with a girl they just met, but will act like themselves around anyone else. So sure, check him out. But learn where to draw the line.

For instance, you are a "friend" to some girl you're attempting to "protect" from some unlikely potential harm from some guy that lives half a world away. Don't start up a conversation with this guy by demanding he betray the trust or good will of the girl he just started talking to. And then, when he fails to do so, lie about who you are and give death threats if said girl is ever "hurt". Of course, this seems noble, even if excessive, until you look at how things work out.

First off, by misrepresenting yourself, you've immediately informed everyone that you're not to be taken seriously. Whatever potentially noble point you were attempting to convey will be completely lost in the fact that you'll be taken as a liar/fraud/troublemaker.

Secondly, also by misrepresenting yourself, you cast the person you're protecting into a bad light. The guy knows only that you're not who you claim to be, he'll figure that the girl either put someone up to it, to act under false pretenses, or is acting that way herself, either to attempt to trap someone in a precarious situation or to attempt to provider herself with some domineering sense of control. This might work against some of the weaker minded of the male race, but anyone with half a clue will see through it and develop a very poor impression of the girl they've just met. Remember people, first impressions mean a lot.

Which leads to my third point. Friendships and relationships are tenuous things. They increase with strength over time. If you've known someone for a long time, you'll let a little thing go, you'll be willing to take their word for something, and you'll believe them over someone else so long as they've been trustworthy. When you've known someone a few days, you have no history to base assumptions on. Therefore, whatever you observe you're forced to take at face value. Many people are trustworthy, wholesome, decent people. And there are unfortunately many who are not. You cannot assume a person is decent just because they act decently at first, but you can immediately identify bad natured behavior and reflect on that immediately. Is it fair to do so? In most cases yes. And if I'm going to end up spending a lot of time with someone I care about, I'm going to make sure that they're good people from the onset. And any event that betrays that impression of them will be taken very seriously.

Therefore, should someone come along and make some girl look bad, a guy who's only known her a few days will probably just walk away and look elsewhere. He has invested very little and when he perceives a potential control freak, or a throng of friends who will be constantly threatening/abusing him, why would he want to walk into a situation like that?

Advice is important. If someone asks for it, provide it. Be honest. Hold nothing back. But just remember that the decision is not yours to make. So that being said, if I had a "friend" of mine who went behind my back to attempt to scare someone into treating me differently than they otherwise would, that person would be my friend no longer. In fact, I would not be speaking to that person any longer. I'm an adult and I can handle myself. And sometimes in life you get hurt. Sometimes the pain is malicious, and sometimes its just the facts of life itself. Things don't always go the way we want them too. In fact, things regularly don't go the way we want them to. To deny someone the pleasures of life because of the possibility that they might get upset is nothing short of criminal. To do so to someone you call a "friend" is betrayal to the worst extreme. If you're really a friend, you need to be there as a shoulder to cry on when needed, recognizing that the temporary pain they feel will make them stronger in the long run.