Can you be nice and yet selective?

I’ve had several experiences with friends and boyfriends that reinforced my preference for people who are somewhat exclusive in their relationships and very selective about who they choose to spend their time with. Recently, I joined an organization dedicated to spreading random acts of kindness and keeping a positive atmosphere on campus. What I love about this organization, is that despite its commitment to friendliness to strangers, it is competitive, selective and these qualities make it great.

I’ve had experiences in the past and recently that really bothered me. I have friends who are very extroverted and well-liked – these are qualities I find attractive but I’ve noticed they often come with an excessive desire to please, never offend anyone, and hide their true feelings. It bothers me to know that these people dislike quite strongly some people’s personalities and actions, yet you could never guess this when you see them interacting with these people who are not close friends of theirs. It also bothers me that they will never take a side, never show support for you if it means disagreeing with someone else. If I am a close friend, I expect you to be loyal to me in several ways – making a bit more time for me even when it’s not convenient, being there during bad times, and yes, supporting me when you agree with  me instead of appearing not to have an opinion just so that you don’t upset some casual acquaintances.

I am very selective about who I consider to be friends. If I invest my time, love and energy into a friendship with you, it’s because I think you have great qualities and, yes, I think you’re better than other people. Not objectively better, but better for me. I think people are lying when they claim not to have preferences or not to like anyone more than anyone else. Some people have qualities that will make them a better match for you and give potential for the depth of a relationship.

Does this mean you can’t be nice to people? No. Generally I am friendly to a lot of people and nice to strangers. I will be polite, give compliments freely and give people a chance. But that doesn’t mean that I will consider these people friends, nor does it mean that I will give them similar amounts of time, energy and support, just so that I can say I have hundreds of “friends”.

I think I need to be more selective now in the sense that I should only have close relationships with people who are just as selective as I am. I’ve had some experiences recently that really hurt me. When you discover that someone you considered a close friend is unwilling to support you because it means compromising the image of having a million friends,  when they won’t give you more time because it’s inconvenient or means less time with different people they are not as close to, and when they don’t seem to allocate their resources differently based on their emotional rapport with you, it is horrible. It’s like discovering your diamond necklace is paste, your organic bubble tea is a sugar-laced generic concoction, or your prince is a good-looking cheater.

People sometimes accuse me of being too critical or picky, but at least my friends know that I truly value them and CHOSE them because they offer me something special, not because I want to appear popular. They will know that I will be loyal to them and give them more of myself, including my support in difficult situations, and not worry about what some acquaintance I don’t like much anyway thinks.

With these types of friends, one never really knows whether they genuinely like you or just want to look popular. You don’t really know whether something bothers them about you because they won’t talk about it and act like everything is fine when it’s not. You can’t expect any loyalty or support if it gets in the way of their busy social schedule. What you can expect? Some entertainment, disappointment when you realize that their affection and enthusiasm about you is something they bestow on everyone, superficial conversations, meeting up when it suits them, loneliness when you need someone to stand up for you.

This was a rather personal post but it helped me feel better about some things I’ve been dealing with and reflecting on recently.

 

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