Are You “That” Friend? Learn to Accept Imperfection in Others
By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC
Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on from time to time. When things go wrong, who will listen to you? Often, it’s not actually who will listen but who is trust worthy and can stand beside you while you are vulnerable. No one is perfect, but not everyone can handle seeing imperfection in others. Could you possibly be the type of friend who has a problem with that?
Are you willing to listen?
There are all types of people in the world and you may know many of them. When it comes to sharing your imperfection with others, it is wise to show discernment. Sharing with the wrong person can be detrimental to you as well as them. It is hard to be vulnerable. Choosing unwisely can make you shy about sharing again. It can also lead to a broken relationship.
The truth is that everyone is not ready to handle all situations. A person who has not yet embraced their imperfect side won’t rise to the occasion to celebrate yours. We have all been that friend who has been less than tolerant. Recognize when you are acting in this way. Let your friend know that maybe you aren’t the one to confide in at this time. Then, grow beyond where you are and learn to be more tolerant.
6 Types of Friends
Don’t fret. You can change.
Gasping friend – They feel that you aren’t sorry enough for your faux pas. It is their duty to act mortified on your behalf. If this is you, then all sympathy for your friend, the sharer, has gone out the window because of your shock.
Sympathetic friend – In reality you are feeling sorry for the sharer. You pat them on the back and shake your head. In reality, you are saying that you are glad that you aren’t in that position. It is quite a patronizing position that is not very helpful to the vulnerable sharer.
Worshipping friend – This is the friend who thought that you could do no wrong. The sun and the moon rise and fall on you. When you profess vulnerability by sharing a mistake, they can feel nothing but let down. The sharer feels bad that they burdened you and burst your bubble. If you are this friend, remember that everyone, no exceptions, has their less than ideal moments.
Uncomfortable friend – This friend doesn’t like to admit that they could be vulnerable too. In an effort not to face their own faults, they don’t know how to deal with listening to yours. They need someone to blame. If this is you, the blame will likely be placed on the sharer or someone else so that you feel better. Remember, projection is thinking that you are looking out the window but you are actually looking in the mirror.
Rosy friend – You wear those rosy glasses and pretend that the situation was not as bad as the sharer is making it out to be. If this is you, the goal is to make the sharer feel better no matter what but the result can be that your friend feels invalidated. Let your friend sort through his/her feelings and, depending on your timing, a more optimistic perspective can be helpful later on.
Competitive friend – You don’t want to listen to your friend. If this is you, their tale of woe is an opportunity for you to show that you can share a better story of vulnerability than they can. You won’t be outdone. You turn it around so the story is about you and your much more challenging problems.
We are all imperfect and having friends help us improve is a wonderful part of life. Take time to reflect on what you bring to your friendships as well as consider ways you can improve.