Friday, 6 July 2012

Friends that Hurt: Part II

In my previous post, I promised to  characterize the actions/behaviours of bad friends, only to a certain extent though. This with the prime goal of understanding who really some of our friends are. Mind that the following types of terrible friends are just a few of the posssible many that, in one way or another, complicate or ruin the lives of poor fellows. The pictures are taken from various sources to somehow simplify my ideas.  

The User

Google picture

This guy, the user, wants to be your friend not to enjoy all what comes from a good friendship. His goal is to use all what you have and who you are for his advantage. In the first place, he quite knows a lot about the qualities you possess that are out of his reach. Your qualities (your house, position, knowledge, experience, husband, wife, etc) attract him and he is not interested in who you are as a friend/person. The more he is challenged by his own life, the more frequent is his visit to you. In most extreme form, he just exploits you, whether you know it or not, to the extent a feudal or a landlord of the 18th Century exploited his slaves/tenants. As slaves did to their masters, you might complain to your bad friend that things are getting too much to be absorbed. Unfortunately, he would try every means to force you to stay where you are. For this person, a friend is a friend if and only if something concrete is available on the table. If he plans to 'snatch' something from you next week, he will visit you a couple of times in advance. He will dump you down as soon as he makes sure you no longer possess the qualities, assets, wealth, health and/or whatever that attracted him first. Worse is that he seldom acknowledges that he somehow succeeds or improves in life partly because of your support. It is ordinary experience that several innocent people  understand only lately that they are being used unfairly and try to revolt against friend lords.  

The Agent

Google picture

A more dangerious friend, if he is a friend at all, is one who studies, examines, or 'dissects' your life and living in amazing detail. This person tries hard to know virtually all affairs of your life including how much you earn, what you plan for, your relation with your wife/husband, your disappointment from life, your friends and their history, and even your self concept and confidence. He does this to accumulate information about you and your world which he will one day use against you. Because of his record of your life, he will embarrass you before your friends, families, or collegues. If you refuse to accept or support any of his views or decisions, he will warn you that he is gonna share with others all the sensitive information he got about you. And in deed he would tell to carefully selected guys all your secrets. In a way, this is not a friend but an amateur agent who regularly spies on you and your social networks. You will finally understand that he knows better and much about you than what you know about yourself, and you would feel that you look like a person walking naked in a crowd. Everyone who comes in contact with your agent would mock you. That will force you to isolate yourself from society, or you might start taking a revenge on that shameful agent. Whatever trajectory you take, your life would never be the same again if you wait too long.     

The Tyrant 

Google picture

If you are unlucky, you will have a friend called the tyrant/dictator. Am sure you got a very working definition for what a dictator looks like, particulalrly if you are an Ethiopian. A dictator friend has, or at least claims to have, sole and supreme power over a friendship relationship. His power is not due to his actual merit; in fact you might be much more intelligent and smart than he is. But he, by accident or because of your negligence to defend yourself, rise to 'power' and claims that he decides on all matters. He dictates when, where, how, why, and with whom to relax. He will never ever ask you to hear your preferences. He will tell you how to speak at work, how to treat your kids, which school to send them, with whom to hang out, what to read, and above all how you should dress yourself and treat him. He will enlist to you his top ten likes that you need to take care of. In a way, he will possess the whole of you, including what and who belong to you. This type of friend is your Mengistu and will govern you for decades and decades.

The Terrorist

Google picture

I do not dare to define for you what a terrorist looks like, as it depends on the perspective you want to employ. But one commonly-shared conception is that a terrorist uses terror as a strategy to bring coersion, obedience, conformity or submission. If you appear to your bad friend logical, truth-loving, and confident, he will try every means to get your neck down. He will tell you that you are the loser because you do not have or you do not do this and that, often in comparison with what he himself and other people did. And your friend will identify to you the implications of not doing this or that. He will create enormous psychological pressure on you. Implicitly, he will tell you that if you want to maintain your job, family, status, or health, you must consult him regularly. His final goal is to make sure you obey his rule, religion, ideology, value, etc. The longer you stay with his terror, the more depressed and frustrated you will be.

The Monster

Google picture

This is the worst friend a person can come across with. This friend combines qualities of all the aforementioned types of friends. This guy wants to create friendship with you only to make hell out of your life. He is set to: break and finally claim your marriage, prepare all the ground work to get you fired from your job, create a lot psychological and moral harm to you every day, systematically erode your self concept and confidence, 'help' you degrade yourself in public, disconnect you from all your real friends and families, and finally contract a grave yard to you. This guy is equivalent in deeds with the devil and should be feared like a venomous cobra. The bad thing is that this guy will not leave you easily even if  you articulately tell him that you do not want to see him any longer. He has to meet his goal. The only way out, as some people do, would then be resorting to force  or help. 

Concluding Remarks

Whatever bad form our friends might take, we need to acknowledge that we are part of the story. We usually absorb or accept the very first bad acts of friends, which are the building blocs or foundations of their personality. We do not dare to tell them that this and that type of thinking or acting is illogical, untrue, false, dangerous, and/or immoral. We take it for grants that challenging friends by resorting to truth or reason hurts them. But in actual terms, we hurt them through our negligence; they will continue thinking and acting the same bad way to the rest of their life. We start complaining only after they reach at a point of no return. Lately, we shout on them to take the right way. But that is usually impossible to do, as acting bad is already made part of their personality and culture. The eleventh-hour advices rather make bad friends act like wild cats- they defend themselves furiously and even violently. But am not saying that we are entirely responsible for the bad acts of friends. Parents and the community would also share the burden. What am saying is that the way we deal with our new friends from the very first day onwards is problematic.   

Our negligence to defend our values and dignity cost us in many other fronts, too, not just friendships. We hear from media that bad religious people abuse believers in various ways. Because of our 'tollerance', the police and civil servants, whom we pay their salaries, consider us as incompetent and ignorant. Because of our "if I talk of this, that would happen" theory, our leaders shamelessly dictate us on all life issues, including what to read and hear and not, what to write, when and how to assemble, and generally how to live. Our God-given rights would not be violated by anybody in any form if we could stand for and safeguard truth, logic, and morality regardless of whom we interact with. My conclusion is that some of our friends hurt us psychologically, morally, socially, and/or economically only because we decided to be hurt.


  1. Thanks Dr. Teklu for your insightful and highly professional reflection about friendship and the different manifestations of it. That was really helpful to reflect on our previous and current friendships!! Well done man!!

  2. I very much liked this post. I used to have an "agent" in my friendship network. I just cut him out before he interrupts my life and network.

    Thanks for this and keep it going!!!

  3. ".......some of our friends hurt us psychologically, morally, socially, and/or economically only because we decided to be hurt:" It is absolutely true. You reminded me some occurrences that I know on such type of friendship relations. Good job Dr.Teklu it is helpful or assistive to whom we gonna be friend with.


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የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን ሕወሓት - መሩ መንግስት ከመጣ ጀምሮ ዘርፈ ብዙ ችግሮችን በመጋፈጥ ላይ ትገኛለች። ኦርቶዶክስንና አማራን በተለየ መልኩ ለማዳከም ከተቻለም ለማጥፋት የትግሉ ዓላማ አድርጎ...