What makes someone a bad friend? I recently thought about this question for two reasons. The first one is because an old friend and former roommate texted me saying that he saw my brother’s face on a billboard outside of PENN station and felt like my brother was glaring at him specifically for being such a bad friend to me. This is my friend Charles writing this. Charles rules. I spent one of the most fun New Year’s Eve’s with only him in our loft near ground zero. We played music and I can’t even play a cord or hit a note. Really, Charles played music around my banging on the drums.
I was the witness at the courthouse in lower Manhattan where he was married. Afterward, his wife and I went out to brunch at Balthazar. A year or so after that though, I moved away from New York. Charles moved to Brooklyn where he bought a house and he has been busy raising a kid and providing for his family. People fall out of touch. This does not make anyone a bad friend.
A bad friend is easy to spot. He or she is simply someone who does not like you. There are obvious behaviors that accompany this feeling. A bad friend is someone who does not want to take the time to get to know you, learn about your interests and find where your interests align and diverge.
Someone at your office, local bar or place of worship who only talks at you, making his or her points over and over is not just a bad friend but is probably not a friend at all.
Someone who hangs out with you for any other reason than the joy your presence provides is a bad friend. The joy involved does not have to be an over-the-moon type of joy but there has to be an interest in you aside from whatever you two do together.
Not making time for someone when you have free time and the other person is trying to hang out with you is another characteristic of a bad friend. Charles, is a good friend. That text message he sent meant a lot to me.
It is better for everyone for two people not to be friends than to let one or the other become and remain a bad friend. Sometimes I am a great friend and many times I fail but a good friend gives you second chances, not holding anything over your head. Many people make demands of us, whether they are our family members, teachers or bosses. These are people who can be our friends but they are something else first. Friends relieve life’s burdens. If they don’t, then they better be really great friends and I don’t think I can handle too many of these before I become a bad friend to everyone, including myself.