A mother once told me about her 6th grade daughter getting kicked out of her friend group over the summer because a new “leader” took over while their family was on vacation.
Clearly her daughter was hurt, and when the new school year started, she made new friends. Friends she could count on. Friends she could trust. Friends who wouldn’t drop her or suddenly turn their backs.
A few months later, her old friends wanted her back. They started being nice again, and while the girl found this satisfying, she also knew better. Being burned had taught her what a real friend looks like. And though she continued to be nice to her old friends, she didn’t want them back.
She told her mom, “They are my 50/50 friends, and I want to be with my real friends.”
Wow. What wisdom. And what a simple way to articulate the complicated side of friendship to someone who is young, naïve, and just beginning to realize that some friendships are worth more than others.
In my book 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, I talk about real friends and 50/50 friends in the first chapter. When I meet girls who have read this book, the #1 thing they remember – and often quote – is that section.
They tell me, “I loved what you said about real friends and 50/50 friends. It really helped me figure out who my real friends are.”
So what is the difference? Here’s an excerpt from the book:
10 Signs Of A 50/50 Friend
1. She’s hot and cold. She loves you one day, hates you the next. You’re never sure where you stand. The inconsistency drives you nuts.
2. She cuts you down. This is often done underhandedly. She may hug you tight while making a jab like, “Your butt looks big in those jeans — you know I’m joking, right?”
3. She’s available on her terms. Whether it’s a small issue or an emergency, you can’t always rely on her.
4. She messes with your mind. She promises to pick you up for a party — then never shows. She leaves you out on purpose. She gives you the cold shoulder and makes everything your fault.
5. She’s competitive. Your problems secretly delight her; your success secretly bothers her.
6. You have fun together, but something about her company brings you down. She doesn’t really “get” you or appreciate your true self. She rarely asks about your life because she’s too busy talking about her own.
7. She constantly switches best friends. Will it be you, Madison, or Caroline this week?
8. Her attitude is “My way or the highway.” One strike and you’re out.
9. The friendship is one-sided. You’re always the giver, and she’s always the taker.
10. She’s complicated and exhausting. Does it really have to be this hard? Must she give you all these headaches?
10 Signs Of A Real Friend
1. She’s loyal and steady. Even when you argue, you aren’t worried about losing her friendship.
2. She builds you up. And should anyone else insult you, she sets the record straight.
3. She’s always there for you. And if there is an emergency, she appears on your doorstep.
4. She’s honest and upfront. There are no mind games being played.
5. She’s a fan of yours. When you’re playing in a soccer tournament, she screams in the stands and waves the signs she made for you.
6. You have fun together, and after leaving her company you’re uplifted. You like yourself better when you’re with her.
7. She has other friends and lets you have other friends, too. However, there’s a special place in her heart for you that no one can replace, and she lets you know this. She is reassuring.
8. She respects your perspective and listens when you share it. She may not always agree with you, but she values your opinions and beliefs.
9. Your relationship enjoys a healthy balance. Sometimes you give more, sometimes she gives more, but it all evens out.
10. What you see is what you get. She’s a breath of fresh air compared to many girls because she doesn’t change like a chameleon to blend in with every environment.
Unfortunately, 50/50 friends exist in adulthood too. At every age, there will be people who like to belittle you, confuse you, or make you feel insecure through their unpredictable behavior (will she speak to me today or not?) or underhanded remarks.
The upside of being an adult, however, is you learn to move on. You don’t let 50/50 friends ruin your day and consume your thoughts. You learn to interact with them – even have pleasant conversations – without revealing too much or expecting them to change. If they do change that’s great, but if they don’t change, that’s okay too. You won’t hold your breath waiting for a miracle that is completely beyond your control.
The only person you can control is you. And when you treat people well, when you show qualities of a real friend and commit to doing the right thing, good people will be drawn to you. Your vibe attracts your tribe, and the way to attract real friends is to be a real friend first.
Children often believe it is possible to be best friends with everyone. It’s not. Nobody has the time, energy, or resources to spread themselves that thin. Not everybody has the chemistry that makes time together feel magical.
As parents, one of the best things we can do for our kids is help them discern early which relationships are worth investing in first. Which friendships have the potential to still exist 20 years from now?
Who is consistently kind and loyal?
Who is empathetic and understanding?
Who stays out of drama and doesn’t intentionally hurt people?
Who reciprocates your efforts to be a real friend to them?
Who deserves your best? Who fills your bucket, showing you the kind of love you can then turn around and share with others?
Whoever these friends are, they are the keepers. They show promise in going the distance even as other friendships fizzle out.
There’s a Sugarland song that talks about how there are some hands you shake – and some hands you hold. 50/50 friends are the hands you shake.You can be friendly, but deep down you know these are not deeply committed friends. Real friends are the hands you hold. You journey through life together and cling tighter when times get tough, building a bond that grows tighter with time.
You’ll meet a lot of 50/50 friends on the road to finding real friends. You’ll shake a wide multitude of hands to find a few hands you can hold. And like the girl whose friend group dropped her, you may have to get burned before stumbling upon something better.
But don’t get discouraged, because real friends are worth the wait. Real friends are worth the journey it takes to finally find them, a journey that takes a delightful turn when you outgrow your 50/50 friends and decide what you really want is real friends after all.
On Aug. 18, my new book Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter releases. It’s gaining fantastic early buzz, and by pre-ordering now, you’ll receive amazing incentives like downloadable prints and prayers. Simply redeem your receipt here. Pre-order through Amazon, and you’re guaranteed the lowest price between now and Aug. 18.
I’ve also written books for teen girls, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked, used widely across the U.S. for small group studies. To keep up with future posts, subscribe to this blog or join me on Facebook, Instagram, and the Girl Mom podcast
Posted by Kari on February 27, 2018