I want to do a quick shoutout to Star. She indirectly gave me the idea for this blog post. Ya’ll should check out her blog here. So thanks, Star, for the great idea!
Friendships for me are very important, yet also very complicated. I’ve struggled over the years trying to find the right kind of friends. I wanted people who I could confide in, and I wanted people I could hang out with and have fun. I wanted friends where we could encourage each other when we were down, and have fun with each other too. Friends who will be there for you when you need to vent, or there to distract you if you need to escape from your head. Friends who are loyal, trustworthy, won’t talk behind your back, kind, caring, open, will stand up for you, fun to hang out with, easy to talk to, willing to help you out, check on how I’m doing, and always there when I need them. But also not super clingy to where I can’t have time alone if I need it. Also finding people who are good influences on you are tough to come by, especially in this day and age. So the process of finding a friend is tough. I was also reading this verse earlier today, which gives us even more reason why we need to be careful who we become friends with.
“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”Proverbs 12:26 (NIV)
What I get from this verse is that we have to choose our friends carefully. If we don’t, we may fall into the wrong crowds, and end up being lead astray. There are several reasons why we need to be careful who we associate ourselves with. One of the things I thought of first is reputation. That’s not something I don’t think people think of right away when they meet someone. They are usually more concerned with either their reputation or the person the reputation of the other person. What I don’t think people typically realize, is that when people see you with the person, you are hanging out with they are associating their reputation with you. Thinking back now on how I look at groups of people, I tended to make my first impressions of people in the group based off of the loudest person in the group. So that got me thinking. If I’m not the loudest person in the group, what kind of reputation is being attached to me? Until someone starts to actually pay attention to you individually, they are going to associate the reputation of the loudest person in your group with you. That’s one reason we have to be careful with who we choose to be friends with. We have to think about if that is the kind of reputation we want to be associated with.
Another reason we have to be careful who we are friends with is we conform. Whether we realize it or not, we adapt to everyone around us. Some people more than others, but we all do in one way or another. For example, one of my closest friends pays more attention to his appearance than any guy friends I’ve ever had. Well over time I’ve slowly been taking more and more fashion advice from him, so now the type of clothes I wear now is pretty different than it was a year ago. I’ve even got a new hair cut! Also just by hanging out with him, I use more slang terms than when I’m around my other friends. I say “lit,” “bet,” and the occasional “dope” when I’m around him because it seems natural. But when I’m around my other friends, I don’t usually say it, because it’s not as natural to talk like that around them. All this I did unknowingly. There are just small things, but over time it has completely changed me. This is probably even more important why we need to be careful who we choose as friends. Because you can be just as influenced by positive as negative. I’ll be transparent here and give ya’ll a personal example of this. When I played video games all the time (60+ hours a week), I was always around people who swore all the time and made crude jokes. I didn’t swear, but I noticed after awhile, my attitude and thoughts had changed. I may not have cursed, but my mentality changed. I got angrier quicker than I usually did. I’d snap on at my family when I was around them. Even though I didn’t say any swear words, they were in my head often. I may have good self-control and didn’t swear, but my mind was still messed up. Now that I don’t play video games anymore, and I hang out with my Christian friends, my mentality is much more positive. I don’t snap at people, I’m happier, I’m patient, and I don’t think about swear words as I did. There’s less chance of me slipping up or getting mad at people because I’m surrounding myself with positive influences. So making sure we are careful we surround ourselves with people who positively affect us is very important.
For me, there are two different kinds of friends. Close friends and just friends, basically my third and second layers, respectively. If you haven’t read about My 4-Layers, I’d highly recommend you do so. It’d help you understand what I’m referring to here. But it’s essential to know the difference between the two because there is a huge difference.
First off we have a close friend. To me, a close friend is one I can confide in. It is someone I can share and talk about personal things with. I can show them my true side and emotions because we have a close relationship. If I can’t show them how I truly feel, then I don’t feel like we are close friends. I may not want to tell them everything that’s going on, or I may only want to tell them part of the story. But if I can’t be honest with them about how I’m doing because I’m afraid about who they are going to act, then they are not my close friends. To be considered a close friend to me, I have to feel like that they are not going to just up and ditch me, that they are going to be here for me when I need them. That I can come to them about anything personal at any time and not be made fun of or criticized. Instead, they will be there to encourage me and help me get through whatever it is I’m dealing with. If they don’t respect me enough to do that, then I don’t consider them to be my close friend. For me, a close friend is someone who will have my back no matter what, and me theirs. It’s a mutual understanding that I’m accepting you who you are, and I’m not going to judge you, but I’m expecting you to do the same. There’s the understanding that either side can confide in the other at any time and anything sworn in secrecy is kept and honored. Where if they say they are going to do something I’m going to expect them to do it, and vice versa. We hold each other accountable and ourselves as well. We are there to help each other grow as people. Always striving to help each other become a better person. They are there to give honest opinions. Like me asking my friend if these pants look good on me or not (I did that once believe it or not. It was the weirdest thing ever to Facetime, my friend in American Eagle Outfitters…) They are the ones to tell you, “Hey man put on some deodorant.” or “Don’t wear that t-shirt and shorts combination again.” A close friend will tell you the truth because they respect you, and know that you will respect your opinion. There is no fear of them leaving you or them not being your friend anymore because your friendship is close and not going to vanish like that. There is no fear about what you tell them because you know that they aren’t going to change their opinion of you over something small. To me, a close friendship is one that should last a lifetime. It’s a friendship that you fight for, protect, and cherish. It is not something taken for granted or left unattended. I believe we all need close friendships; without them, we will grow stagnant and not have anyone to lean on. You may have friends, but they won’t be able to help in ways a close friend can, which leads us to the next type of friend.
The plain Jane, original, ordinary, not-so-close friend. This kind of friend is the one you don’t confide in. It’s the kind of people you are friends with, but you don’t feel comfortable or close enough to them to share how you feel. They are the kind of people that you like to hang out with whether it’s sports, casual conversations, card games, etc. But you don’t confide in them. You don’t talk about any of the personal stuff, and if you do tell them something, it’s usually a doctored version. You leave out or change the parts that show how you feel. These are the kind of people you like as people, but you don’t feel comfortable being open with. You don’t mind hanging out with them. Playing games, hanging out, studying together, talking, or whatever. But you don’t form a close connection. You see each other when you see each other, which may or may not be often, but when you don’t see each other, you don’t make any effort to text or call them. They are the kind of people that if you moved you would lose all contact with them. They wouldn’t text or call you to check on you; you’d just be gone. That’s how I usually tell if someone is a close friend with me. I ask myself, “If I moved without saying anything how many people would personally text or call to find out what happened to me?” If I don’t feel like that person would make any effort, then I don’t consider that person a close friend.
Now, I see the benefit of having both kinds of friends. We need both close and not-so-close friends. We need to have friends we can hang out with whenever and not have to worry about calling and checking up on them all the time. We need to be able to have people we can go and have fun with at any time, but not worried if we don’t talk for weeks or months later. We need friendships where we are friends purely for the mutual interest of something, whether it’s work, school, church, etc. Whatever it is, you need friendships that do not require a lot of energy. Then you also need to have a few close friends. Some people can have more close friends than others. Some people may only have one, and others may have like ten. It depends on the person and their personality. Right now, I’m in the middle right now. I have five close friends, which is a personal record for me. We need close friends because we need to have someone we can go to when we are going through a tough time. Family is there for you too, but we also need close friends in addition to your family, because friends will give you a different outlook than family will. Close friends are the ones that will be there for you when you feel lonely or sad. When you need to talk, or you want to share something cool with someone, that’s why they are there. They are the kind of people who you experience life with. You both learn and grow together. You are there to cheer each other on, or there with the first aid kit ready to bandage them up when they get hurt. You need close friends to confide in when you have no one else to talk to. These kinds of friendships, however, come with a cost. They require time and a lot of energy.
Different personalities handle the cost of close friendships differently. Some people can hang out with their close friends all day for weeks on end and be fine. People like me, however, can’t do that. If we continuously have to text someone, check on how someone is doing, being around the person it is very draining. It takes a lot of energy for me to socialize for people, and even though I love all my close friends dearly if I don’t get time now and then to retreat into myself, I won’t be able to recharge. Which that’s another part about having close friends. If they are your close friends, then they will respect the fact that you need alone time and will leave you alone. They may check on you to see how you are doing because they are concerned, but they realize that you need your space and will give it to you. But this goes back to being careful who you choose to be friends with.
When you are choosing friends, you need to make sure the person you are friends will respect you and your boundaries. This is something I struggle with personally. I either don’t set boundaries, or I do, and I don’t make them clear to the individual I’m trying to be friends with. I get so caught up and concerned with making all my close friends happy and trying not to hurt them that I don’t voice my own needs. I don’t say “Hey, I need some space right now. I’m mentally exhausted and need to recharge.” I’ve been doing a lot better recently, but it’s still something I struggle with. You have to be able to tell your friends, “Hey, I need a break.” If you can’t tell them that and they don’t respect you, then they are not your friend. Because a friend is there for you, and you for them. Not just you for them. So when considering who you should be friends with you need to be asking, do they respect me and what I need?
Another thing to consider when looking at who to be close friends with is whether or not the friendship will be harmful to me or not. I have an example of this. I once had a close friendship, which started great. But then the friendship became toxic for me over time. This person dealt with depression all the time. Me being the person I am wanted to help and was trying the best I could to cheer him up and get passed it. Sadly he never did; instead, he started making me depressed. I started being depressed all the time, and instead of me being excited to see him or talk to him, it became dread knowing I was going to start feeling depressed again. I hated having to do it, but I ended cutting him out of my life. It’s not cool, and I hate I had to do it, but it got to the point where I wasn’t helping him anymore, and instead, he was bringing me down. I use this as an example to show you have to be careful who you are close friends with. You may have good intentions, and the other individual may as well, but don’t someone take advantage of your heart. Just because they are struggling with something doesn’t mean that you have to continue being in a friendship that is always dragging you down. Yes, as a friend, you should be there for them, but there is a point where you have to look after yourself. If they are so needy that they are dragging you down always and not being of any benefit to you, you may consider revaluating your friendship. This takes good judgment though because everyone and every situation are different. Because I do believe we should be there to support and help anyone who needs it, but at the same time, we also need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. If we are not ok, we can’t help anyone else.
Which even though that part I learned years ago, I’m learning recently about how to communicate that. Because only you know what’s going on in your brain. So unless you communicate that to those close to you, then no one will know how to help you. For your friends and family to help you, you have to help them help you. You have to tell them what’s going on and let them be there for you. You may think you’ve got it all under control, but there’s an old saying that holds today. “Two heads are better than one.” This is true with friends. It’s a lot easier to deal with your emotions and thoughts if you have someone to talk to and help you get through it. Sometimes you need someone to vent to everyone once and awhile like this blog for me. I may not be talking about what truly is bothering me, but I’m still able to talk. By talking, I’m getting my thoughts out and sorting them and turning them from thoughts into concrete ideas. Which is what close friends are for, to be able to help you sort through and make heads and tails of your thoughts and feelings.
I will get a bit personal here. I’m not sure if this is an INFJ thing or not, so INFJ’s comment below if this is or isn’t! (I’m too lazy to do my research, lol. In my defense, it’s late…) But for me when I say someone is a close friend of mine, it’s not something I take lightly. For me, a close friend is someone I would die for. It’s a friendship that will last a lifetime. You can’t undo it unless you cross one of my main boundaries. If I say you’re my close friend time doesn’t matter. I know I said earlier you talk to close friends more than regular friends, but for me, a close friend is awesome because you don’t always have to talk. You have to know they are there for you whenever you need them, which that’s what I say when I call someone my close friend. Even if we don’t talk all the time, or in extreme circumstances not at all. Even though land and sea may separate us if I call you my close friend, you are that. Permanently. When I say, you are my close friend I’m saying I’m here whenever you need me. If you need me, all you have to do is say a word, and I’ll be there. I’ll put my life on the line for you if need be, because you have won a spot close to my heart that is not easy given nor easily lost. I don’t let just anyone into my heart, and once you’re in good luck trying to get out. You can make me mad, hurt my feelings, insult me, etc. But I don’t care. I know we’ll be ok and that as a close friend we can work it out. I’m not the kind of person who drops a friendship on the spot. You can run, but you can’t leave. I can honestly say I’ve only ever had six close friends. Friends I’ve confided in, and I’m still close friends will 5 of them. The only reason I’m not friends with the one guy is that he became too toxic for me as I said earlier. You other five (you know who you are), if you are reading this, good luck trying to lose my friendship. I may not be the perfect friend, but what I lack I make up for in loyalty. I love all my close friends to death, and I appreciate all of them so much for being there for me. Like I said idk if this a common feeling that INFJs have towards their close friends, but it’s how I feel. So I’m sorry ahead of time if I am distant now and then, sometimes I need my space!! It’s nothing against you; I promise I’m here for as long as ya’ll want me. Anyway, I just wanted to share how I feel about close friends. Comment below if you feel a similar way about your close friends, or if you feel differently!!
Well after a long blog post later we finally finished! I hope ya’ll enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. Comment below any thoughts you have about friendships that I may have missed or that you would like me to discuss! Or if you just really liked something I mentioned let me know! I’d love to hear from you all! I try to respond to all the comments. Also, if you haven’t, go ahead and follow me on social media! Once I get a set schedule going I plan to have some cool posts on there, so be tuned in for that!! Anyway, until next time! Peace, and God Bless!
~~~ INFJ Mickey
P.S. – Don’t forget to check out Star’s blog! She’s got some great stuff so check her out!