Friends: The Relatives You Make For Yourself

Friends: The Relatives You Make For Yourself

By Caroline Schumsky, LCSW, MS

It’s been said: “A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” We all know that there are lots of people who want to ride with us in the limo, but who will take the bus with us when the dang limo breaks down? Aha. Trouble finding true friends?

Remember kindergarten, when you can just go over to your favorite kid and say: “Hey, wanna be friends?” Sure, we had criteria: You had to be the same size. Well, perhaps you’ve gotten a whole lot pickier about whom you surround yourself with these days. Or maybe you prefer to have your gym buddy, your neighbor cohort, the likeminded sidekick; and they are all different people.

Trust me: You are not alone in feeling alone. We get Kelly green with envy imagining all those so-called soul mates we see who have a long, shared history, unending private jokes, and sworn secrets. But let’s be real for a moment. How many people in your ever-growing contact list are even well-wishers, let alone one with whom you share a deep, mutual trust? Lots, you say. Umm. Okay, when was the last time you actually saw them or talked to them about anything personal or significant? Or maybe you’re this guy: “Oh, gosh, I lost all my contacts. Please message me your number so I can continue to not call you.” Sheesh. Perhaps you’ve even outgrown a few of them or they may have literally relocated.

But how much better does that meal taste when your best friend munches with you? And how much more awesome is your favorite movie when she is sitting right next to you? Then again, sharing interests is great, but how intimate are you truly? Is that friend brave enough to point out your possible blind spots or faults, and do you even encourage her to?

Living in a G-d-belittling world is no easy task. It is tempting to buckle under the weight of all the pain and negativity in this universe. Sometimes that means that your true friend has belief when your faith gets weak, or that she will have a bigger vision of yourself at times than you do. He will never give up on you, even if you may have given up on yourself. We all need someone to compassionately tell us the truth about ourselves. What we don’t need is superficial sweet talk or fake, forged flattery.

So what are your criteria for a friend? Mutual values and world view? The same fashion sense? An obsession with carbs? You know, the kind of friends who says: “Give up carbs? Over my bread body.” Lol. So, how do you know if you found a true friend? Well, how often do you find yourself saying: “Yeah, me, too” when you’re talking to her? How honest are you with each other? Will he tell you about the broccoli stuck in your teeth? Better yet, will he never let you go down a disastrous path in life, but will soften the blow when you need some gentle or not so gentle criticism?

Do you feel comfortable raiding her fridge? You know what they say: Friends buy you food; best friends eat your food. Heh. Oh, and when your best friends say you can have a bite of their food, you take the biggest bite humanly possible.

You most likely do each other tons of favors, but never keep track of whose turn it is. She is supportive of your life’s efforts – and genuinely happy when you succeed. Trust me: If someone can help you laugh at yourself, you have struck gold.

Signs that you got it right: He’s a great wingman. She knows how to lift your mood. He has real listening skills and is not afraid to use them. You don’t need Facebook to know it’s their birthday or Instagram to see who they celebrated with. They actually told you. They use the magical words: “What can I do for you?” often.

Are you surely moved by beauty or touched by displays of human kindness? Then chances are you get hurt easily, feel exquisitely vulnerable, and get so confused when people are thoughtless or take advantage of you. You can feel wounded for years. You may take things way too personally. Everything is not a personal rejection. But if you’ve been deeply hurt, it may simply feel safer to stop trying to make friends altogether. But please do not bow out.

Many people don’t realize that friendship is not just a “meet and greet.” It requires maintenance just like your car. Speaking of which, y’all know the definition of a mechanic: someone who does precision guesswork based on unreliable data, provided by those of questionable knowledge. See also: Wizard, Magician. But I digress…

Above all, please be a good friend. There is no universal method of being loving and caring. Please make sure your friend is okay the second you sense something may be wrong. Texting is admirable, but find an excuse to spend time with them. Be as invested as they are and do not desert them in their darkest hour. Make sure they feel wanted, even if it means telling them often that you have their back. Make time for them. No, you are not too busy for real.

You do not have to live it alone. Please find someone to have the starring role in your life’s most precious moments. You’ll know they’re your best friend when you can only stay mad at them for a short period of time because you have so much important stuff to tell them.

Or you can always tell them what I tell mine: You don’t have to be crazy to be my friend. I’ll train you. And don’t forget, sweet friends: There’s nothing better than a best friend – except a best friend with chocolate.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at or at