My friend Sam messaged me last Monday and asked if I wanted to go see Nine Inch Nails. I’m a Trent fan. I like Trent’s business models but the last time I loved his music, Def Leppard was still getting airplay. Also, I’m broke.
Sam promptly replied that he asked me if I wanted to go, not whether I had money. Because apparently, that’s what friends do. It suddenly hit me that I have friends. It was bound to happen after spending years of free time with the same people.
I don’t like the word friend. I decided to stop having friends in my mid-20’s. Without friends, it’s easier to people fit into two categories: People I like being around and the people I avoided. INFPs idealize friendship. The word friend has subtext.
When I said that a person was my friend, I meant they were my close friend who I could tell about the body secrets to. Everyone else wandered this vast limbo of acquaintance-hood outside the door of my secret club of friends.
My friends were only those who could understand who I really was as a person. Pledging my club included figuring out their MBTI. We’re they INFPs because only INFPs or maybe an INT/J or P could understand me. INFPs use all sorts of initiation rituals for friendship. Astrology is quite popular as an INFP form of hazing.
I stopped making friends because people couldn’t quite live up to my idealization of them. People disappointed me. I felt hurt and betrayed because they should have known me better than that. Looking back at it now, I can tell you the most important thing I learned about friendship:
Friends are there to be your friend, not to make you feel less lonely.
I’ve known Sam for 7 years. I don’t know how long we’ve been friends. I never expected us to be friends and that’s probably why we are. I didn’t “go INFP”* on him.
Today, I call friends those people who’s company I enjoy and I spend time with. The other requirements I’ve learned to let go of. They don’t have to return messages in a timely manner. They don’t have to show up on time. They don’t have to learn the secret handshake and I’ve eliminated the blood sacrifice completely.
I don’t expect anything from my friends except for them to be who they are. They have lives that they’re trying to muddle through also. I’m almost a grown up now. I can deal with it.
As for the those deep dark secrets I was saving to tell close friends. They don’t need to know where the bodies are buried. Isn’t that what blogging is for?
* I’m formally coining the phrase “going INFP”. Going INFP is when an INFP projects an ideal onto a person or a situation which results in disappointment due to unmet expectations.