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How You Can Tell Whether
Someone is a True Friend

by Tristan Loo

Dear Tristan,

I’m so frustrated about the friends that I have. I trusted someone who I thought was a good friend of mine and I ended up getting used. I really can’t tell who is really a friend and who is just fake and trying to use me. I used to trust my own judgment, but now…I’m not so sure. Can you please give me some advice?

~Dan M.

Hello Dan,

You’re not alone. Many people, including myself, have this same challenge of separating the “chaff from the wheat” in people that we want to trust.

In my own case, I am an “amiable” personality type, which means that I am somewhat shy and compassionate towards the emotions of others, and as such, I am by nature more susceptible to being manipulated than others. Personally, I have very few true friends, perhaps only two or three at the most.

That’s because a true friend, as I define it, is someone who would stop their own life to come to help me despite the fact that there was no incentive or quite possibly even risk or pain for them to do so. That is true friendship to me and it falls right up there with a level of love that is as powerful as the bond of a family.

Very few people I know meet this criteria.

One simple question you must ask yourself when engaging in any relationship

Dan, you didn’t specify if this friend was a guy or a girl, but seeing that you selected “used” as your victimized verbiage, I’ll take a leap off the deep end and say that this friend was a girl. When dealing with opposite-sex friendships, things become more complicated, mainly because of perceived, assumed, or potential love-relationships forming for one person or both.

And we all know that once you fall for a guy or a girl, you’re no longer thinking with your rational mind, but rather with your emotional one.

The simple question that you must ask yourself when engaging in any relationship, platonic or love, is this: Do they have your best interests in their heart—or do they only have their own self-interests in mind?

Well, then you might ask, "How am I suppose to know that?"

There are five simple rules that you can analyze to see if your friend is truly a friend from the heart, or someone who is just out to get what they want from you. A good friend will score at least a 3 out of 5 and a genuine friend will score no less than 5 out of 5.

1. Self-sacrifice

This is the willingness to help you even though it might be a burden, pain, or risk for themselves. You may do everything to help her out, but if and when you need help, would she give you back the same level of help that you extended to her? If the answer is “no,” then be careful.

2. Genuine time-sharing

This is an important test of the true synergy in a friendship. Ask yourself, when you spend time together, are you spending time just to enjoy each other’s company and companionship in connected synergy with no other strings attached? …or do you find that you only spend time together when your “friend” needs help or something from you?

If the answer is the latter, then be careful—this is a sign of a manipulator.

3. Honesty

This again is another big one on the list because it signifies the level of interpersonal connectedness of the relationship.

A true friend will tell you personal things, with complete trust that you will not use it against them later on. Also a true friend will not keep information from you even though it is something that you might not want to hear or that might hurt you, if they felt it was the right thing to do.

For example, I recently told a friend of mine how I felt about her, knowing that she wouldn’t like hearing it from me, but the obligation that I had on being honest was more important to me because I valued this friendship.

4. Interest

How interested is the other person about your life? If you are doing something important, do they call and follow up with you? If they don’t seem interested about you or your life at all, then be careful.

The deeper the friendship, the better the questions they will ask of you. Real friends will want to know how you are emotionally and physically, how you are doing professionally, how your heart is doing, and they seem to dig a little deeper than the superficial “elevator talk” that usually just consists of how your day is going and what’s new. 5. Integrity

This is the ability to keep your word and do as you say you will. I’ve noticed that with fake friends, their integrity level is not so high. If they say they will call you tomorrow and don’t, then that is a lack of integrity. If they say they will do something and either forget or use the more infamous “I’m too busy today,” line then they lack integrity.

On the note of “busy,” in my time management courses, I tell people that so much can be done on any given day and it just comes down to proper planning and knowing you’re your priorities are. When I hear someone tell me that they are too busy or that they forgot to call, then I what I really hear instead, is that I am not as important as other things in their life right now, so that is a red-flag to me that they are not a true friend because their level of integrity is poor.

Hold people accountable for their words because when it boils down to trust—your word is your bond.


Dan, I hope this advice helps.

Tristan Loo is an experienced negotiator and an expert in conflict resolution. He uses his law enforcement experience to train others in the prinicples of defusing conflict and reaching agreements. Visit his website at http://www.acrsonline.com or e-mail him directly at CEO@acrsonline.com






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