Real Friends Don’t Exist

Food for Thought

“Real friends talk shit to your face and say nice things behind your back.” This is a meme that is not attributed to anyone. The earliest occurrence I can find on Google is from February of 2019. I find it interesting that it resonated with many people.

Now, why couldn’t your friends say nice things to your face and behind your back also? This idea doesn’t resonate partly because we intuitively understand the concept of yin and yang; positive and negative energies complement one another. Something feels off when someone is nice all the time.

I told my daughter the other day that friendship became less important as I got older. She said it’s because mom and I have each other. The idea that we are so in love that we no longer need friends is quite romantic, but in reality, it’s comical.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy being with my friends; I no longer rely on them existentially. I remember how important friendship was in my teens and twenties. It’s how I defined who I was. How important or worthless I felt depended on who my friends were and how much they cared about me. But like with any addictive substance, dependency prevents you from enjoying it. Even worse, it spirals downward; the more dependent you become, the more willing you are to accept lesser quality. Alcoholics would settle for the cheapest can of beer.

It’s a relief, therefore, that I no longer feel dependent on friendship. I can appreciate them more for who they are. Some would inevitably talk shit behind my back, but I can appreciate that they are at least talking about me. Most of my friends talk shit to my face, and that’s fine too. I’m more comfortable with that style myself.

What we should question is not how loyal our friends are, but why we need them to be loyal in the first place. What is missing in us that must be filled with loyalty? As cliched as it may sound, it’s our mothers’ embrace. Our path to independence is filled with desperate attempts to fill that void with symbols like loyalty, respect, and status. But ultimately, symbols are empty because their purpose is to stand in for what is not there in front of us.