Friends for-never

A good friend recently disowned me, based on some malicious gossip, and got me thinking about what sort of friends we should truly, definitely disown. Start with me.

A lot of my friends could cut me off for legit reasons. I invest little time in them, I don't go out of my way to be with them (they're obviously not in the five-km radius vicinity), and I go off-radar for weeks with no explanation. But not anymore.

Getting disowned is now making me hold on to my few friends for dear life. I'm born again. So, I get forgiven. But what about the ones who never get it? Or, the ones you have totally outgrown and don't connect with anymore?

True friends bear each other's burdens and accept each other's weaknesses, because without reciprocity, there's nothing. Friendship is about collaboration, not domination. Because we should be housekeeping each other, I am happy to help you keep your room clean, but life is too fleeting to let you continue trashing mine.

Infractions such as these add up and wear you down, the way rivers forge canyons. If we're ridding our lives of stuff that threatens our well-being, a bad, energy-draining friend belongs right there on the junk pile along with Rahul Mahajan's ‘Swayamvar' and trans-fats.

She (I'll go with ‘she' for ease of sentence construction) takes up far more psychic space than she deserves or we can handle, and yet we keep her around for the same reasons we hang on to those size two jeans — we think things will turn around and / or we can't confront reality.

Maybe, this friend will change, we tell ourselves yet again.

Yeah, and maybe, we'll magically shrink five jeans sizes overnight.

I'm starting to think a Friend for-never can be exposed with a few easy questions: Do you look forward to seeing this person, or do you consider it a chore? Is she truly happy to see you, or do you suspect she wants something from you or needs to lord something over you? Will you walk away from this meeting feeling good — or feeling manipulated, demeaned, poisoned, or played? Or terribly bored and exhausted?

Take a fortnight to work this out, inundate my mailbox, and we'll pick it up from right here, on March 30. I'll get my salary by then, and be in a better mood too.

(A fortnightly column on relationships)