Admittedly, it took me way too long to realize what a good friend is. Growing up I feared being alone and friendless, and longed to have that close friend that was often portrayed on TV back in the 90s. In school I had two close friends, but one was bully disguised as a friend. He was someone who spent time with me more out of convenience for him, but when the opportunity arose he didn’t hesitate to humiliate me (or worse). The other friend was moody and would go extended periods giving me the silent treatment without ever giving me a reason why. He loved the drama and attention.
Coming from these environments, when I entered college folks seemed to be way more mature. Granted my experience with friendships wasn’t particularly good, and so every friendship seemed good in comparison.
Now, it must be stated that I don’t think we should expect perfection from friends, especially since we aren’t perfect friends ourselves. We make mistakes in all of our relationships, and that’s okay. We should show grace to those in our lives, but there is a danger in laying down and becoming a doormat though in the name of “grace.”
It wasn’t until the last few years of my life that I realized what a true friend is. A true friend is mutually invested in the relationship. Neither of you need to spend every waking moment together, but if you find that you are the only one reaching out to the friend and that the relationship is one-sided then that person isn’t your friend. It may be heartbreaking and difficult to accept but it is a truth I’ve had to accept. People who choose not to make time for us (within reason of course) are not our friends.
Sometimes this happens naturally, once we graduate from High School or college it is natural for certain relationships to dissolve, other times it is due to negligence and people being aloof and self-absorbed. When that happens, it is time for us to stand up for ourselves and either sever the relationship and move on or say something. Learn how to be a good friend yourself, and do not let others take you for granted. There isn’t a need for codependence, but there should be mutual interest, if not then there is a problem and the relationship isn’t what you thought.