Thomas Aquinas once said, "There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship." Friendship is a beautiful thing. It is a gift built on bonds we form with other people throughout our lives. I have friendships that have spanned the entire course of my lifetime: childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, work friends, and friends from my community. Each one of them, meaningful in different ways, has undeniably contributed to the person I am today.
This New Year, I have made a resolution to surround myself with true friends -- people that I have made an authentic connection with, people that are important to me and worthy of sharing my life experiences. True friends accept you for who you are, never cast judgment, or do anything to hurt you. If you ever find yourself, questioning whether or not a friend, especially a new one, is worthy of your friendship, it might be time to evaluate the relationship using these seven helpful guidelines:
If somebody, out of the blue, takes a sudden interest in you: beware. At first, you may feel flattered -- it feels good to feel like you matter -- but ask yourself, "why this person is so interested in me?", especially if you have nothing in common. If this person is overly excited by your social status or material possessions, this person may be sizing you up and seeking friendship for insincere reasons. As a litmus test, I always ask myself whether this person would have sought out my friendship in college when I had no social status. If the answer is no, this person is probably bad news. Real friends do not try to size you up. They are drawn to you for other reasons than climbing the social ladder.
It is always nice to receive a gift, especially from a new friend. Gifts are expressions of affection, signs that somebody is interested in you and wants to get to know you better. However, gifts should always feel appropriate for the occasion. For example, if a new friend unexpectedly leaves a black dress on your doorstep for your birthday (before even being invited to your house), that person is trying too hard to be your friend. Friendships should always be genuine connections, something that money cannot buy. A true friend does not have to win you over with expensive gifts. The presence of their friendship will be enough.
Making a new friend can be an exciting time because you get to learn all about this person: their likes, dislikes, personality, etc. Beware of the friend who asks too many questions or tries to imitate you to gain closer access. If you notice that your friend is feigning common interests with you based on the intimate details you provide about your life, this is not a form of flattery. If you feel like this person is taking detailed mental notes on your happiness, this person is likely masking their unhappiness and trying to steal and manipulate yours.