Real and Lifestyle Friends

We all know the saying "hard times reveal true friends". But, is this the truth? How many times have you asked yourself who are my real friends? Or, whether or not do you have any real friends? 

Over the last couple of months, I have spent some time thinking about the role that friends and friendships play in my life. Do I really have "real" friends"? Who are they? Why are friends so important?

Somehow, I never felt the need to have many friends. I am not certain why, but perhaps it is because I am part of a big family - I never felt lonely or isolated. I am the second one of five children; I have two sisters and two brothers. Additionally, I also have many, many cousins and plenty of other relatives. Yes, my family is huge! 

It's true that you could be surrounded by many people and still feel lonely. But, this wasn't exactly my case. Although there was always some sibling rivalry, I also learn to share, forget and get along with others. Furthermore, when you are part of a big family there is always someone with whom to play and with whom to share your secrets and frustrations. I know that this is not always true for all families, but it is the case for mine. I am not saying that my family is or was perfect - families are not supposed to be perfect. I really believe that there are many advantages of being part of a big family, and one of them is that you share traditions and memories.  

 I am grateful that I am part of a big family because I have always had someone with whom to play, talk and why not, fight.

This being said I have always enjoyed the presence of friends in my life. I am one of those people who believe that in life we usually have two types of friends: "lifestyle" and "true" friends.

Although this dichotomy is not new, we forget about it when we are disappointed by a friend. Kelly O'Brien wrote an interesting post entitled "Want To Know Who Your True Friends Are?" in where she defines "lifestyle" friends as:

Those friends that you imagine will come to your aid but didn't are now your "lifestyle friends" (pssst... they always were but you didn't know it). What does this mean? It means they were friends with you for your lifestyle and really enjoyed your company. 

Although our lifestyle friends are fun to be with, we should not expect to count on them during difficult times. The problem is that we often forget this. Then, we feel terribly hurt when someone who we call friend doesn't come to our rescue. The issue is that this person was probably a lifestyle friend. Most of us have a good number of lifestyle friends, but only a very small number of true friends. According to O'Brien, you may never know who your true friends are until life throws you an unwelcome curveball, then...

The people who DO step forward to be by your side are your true friends.

Real friends are there for you and with you during difficult times. But, real friendships require that you put yourself out there. True friendships are rare because they require honesty, dedication, caring, and love from both parts. In a real friendship, you can feel free of being yourself and trust the other. 

The moment that you start wondering whether you can trust someone or not, that is when you already know you don't...that is when you realize that perhaps that person is not, or was never, a real friend.  

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