It’s hard finding true friends nowadays. Whether it’s clear or not, people are desperate – we need support, encouragement, someone to climb mountains with, hold our hands, fight enemies with. Society has taught us to be more selfish than previous generations, but that doesn’t mean good friendships are becoming extinct – just harder to recognize.
How do you define friendship? If you were to ask me this, I’d think of my best friend – the only person in my life I know is in it forever. It’s a relationship that’s effortless with no pressure of masking your flaws; a partner in crime; someone who sees you for exactly who and what you are and loves you in spite of it; and above all, the person who is your biggest support system.
It’s hard to find a great friendship in a community full of gay men not because we’re mean or picky, but because we’re often competitive and territorial – that’s how our biology works. Testosterone is both our confidant and enemy. It makes us aggressive, horny, abrasive, and superior. Sprinkle homosexuality on top of that, it is testosterone vs. testosterone: a beautiful combination if you ask me, but in the wrong doses, you create a judgmental circle of catty personalities that might keep us from trusting each other.
Finding supportive friends in any community is hard because, above all, a true friend needs to put their opinions on the shelf with absolutely zero judgment. Sometimes we put ourselves in stupid situations, i.e. the man we like doesn’t like us back or we might have said or done something we feel really guilty over, and all we want to do is talk about it.
A supportive friend hears us out and allows us to get whatever it is off our chest, then holds our hand and tells us we’ll be okay and help us get over it. They’re on our side, they’re loyal, they’ll defend us when we’re not in the room – never will they scorn us, defame us, or shame us by allowing us to walk away feeling judged. It’s important, now more than ever, to smell people out before allowing them to get a piece of our hearts. Here’s how to do it:
Notice their track record – How many people actually talk of them in a good light, how many people actually showed up to their party that one night, how many people actually enjoy themselves when they’re around?
Observe their personalities – Do you feel awkward with them? Are you putting on a front? Do you sense like they’re judging you? Are they too boring for your own good? Are they giving anything back to you in conversation or are you driving the whole thing yourself?
Do they share similar qualities with your other best friends? – If they remind you of someone near and dear to you, they’re probably going to mesh well. You’re home when you’re with them, there’s no pretending or trying to impress. Comfortable.
Be aware of exclusion – People who exclude themselves for no real reason often do it because they want to create a superiority complex. It’s one thing if there are certain negative people they’d rather not include, but if there is a Mean Girls mentality behind it, understand that it runs much deeper than an invitation to a party.
Never forget their “episodes” – When they show you their true colors, believe them. The nights they exploded on you for no reason, the moments they totally exaggerated a certain situation in order to play victim, the times where they seemed completely nuts, those circumstances when they did not show up for you, the nights where they brushed you off with little compassion or empathy: these are red flags.
Recognize false support – Everyone wants something. Sometimes people get close to you because they want information from you, or they want some kind of recognition, or they simply want an extra body at their birthday party to feel more beloved. Everyone in this world thinks of his or her self first – even you. It’s a human characteristic to have, but don’t let it turn you into a pawn.
Feel the connection – People are disconnected from each other nowadays. We’ve built a wall that’s too hard to break, so when we meet strangers we bring all our past experiences up for display and use that as an excuse not to get to know them. Even long after your friendship is forged there will be people who still refuse to connect. Trust me, they never will.
Sense how they make you feel – A good friend makes you feel whole because they allow you to be yourself, no questions asked. No awkward eye rolls, no snarky put-downs disguised as “friendly advice,” no pretending to care, no faking, no throwing you under the bus, no calling you out, no embarrassment, no bullying, no jealousy, and no competition. A friend is simply there for you. They understand your spirit and soul, and travel with you without making you feel self-conscious. A supportive friend feeds your soul with goodness, and makes you feel like unstoppable.