Would You Be Friends With You?

Would You Be Friends With You?

Find out if you’re the kind of “through thick and thin” friend you want for yourself by answering four key questions.

No, this isn’t some crazy meta SAT question; we’re serious! The easiest way to know whether you’re the supportive, kind friend we know you want to be (right?) is to take this enlightening quiz.

In grade school, when it comes to friends, more is more. Once we’re out of the long-division years, though, most of us become increasingly choosy about who our friends are. Over time, I’ve developed pretty militant criteria, and recently I decided that it’s only fair to check and see whether I would pass my own test. Would I be friends with myself? The concept, I realize, sounds eerily like a 1970s self-help book with a rainbow on the cover and a photo of a woman euphorically hugging herself. It has a little crunchiness to it, but it’s serious, and I was too, the more I thought about it. Would I pick me?

With friendships, there are no hard and fast rules to go by. Thankfully, you just assume you’ll split the check. But there are four questions that could help you figure out whether you excel in the friend department or are one of those annoying people who always assumes everyone wants to hear the dream they had last night. Ask yourself:

1. Would you pick up your own call?
I had a friend in college I nicknamed Hot Ear, because by the time I hung up, my phone was the temperature of an iron. There would be no fewer than 15 attempts by me to say goodbye: “So OK, I’d better go…”; “Someone’s at my door…”; “I smell something burning [my ear]….” When I’d break in with my own stories, she’d say, “Can I please finish talking about me?” I’d say “sure” and mime putting a .45 to my head. She is an extreme example, but a good cautionary tale. And I wonder whether I might be a bit guilty too. I have a sweet friend who listens warmly to everything I say, and I have to remind myself not to take advantage of her. You want people to make your personalized ring “Celebration,” not “Taps.”

2. Would you meet you for lunch in the rain?
When the weather’s good, I look forward to lunch with a friend as if it were a free makeover! The real test comes when the weather is crummy. In August I had plans to meet my friend Jancee for lunch on one of those dog days when the sun hitting me caused me to scream out in pain. When I got to her office, my tongue was hanging out the side of my mouth. Jancee, who knows me, said keeping the date was the most moving thing I’d ever done. The truth is, I would happily suffer because with her I know we’re going to have a give-and-take conversation, compassion and laughs. Plus she always has a special question prepared for me, e.g., “Which Madonna look would you most want to have?” (Ray of Light, obviously.)

3. Would you shop for a swimsuit with you?
I need more support for this particular endeavor than for most medical procedures. There aren’t many people I trust — it comes down to someone who will spare your feelings but not let you stretch out poolside with a mess of back fat.

A few years ago, a friend asked me to help her pick out a fabulous suit. I promised her I would be honest and caring, despite my blistering jealousy that she was going on a Caribbean vacation in January with a hot new guy while I would be trudging through the slush. I did bring one enormous grandma skirt suit into the dressing room, but it was a joke, and we all felt better after a good laugh (and ultimately she got a stunning chocolate Norma Kamali). The fact is, this friend once left her apartment at 11:30 P.M. in response to my worst “I got dumped” call and sat with me until I was laughing at what a schmuck the dumper was. So she was worth it.

4. Would you be happy if you got a new boyfriend?
You’ve heard of fair-weather friends, but bad-weather friends are just as common — women who want to hang out with you only when the chips are down. I know that in my own friendships, I worry the most about sharing good news, not bad news. What if a friend is jealous?

Real keepers, of course, want good things for both of you. I remember when my best friend got engaged. She’d been dating her boyfriend for a year less than I’d been dating mine. When she told me, she burst into tears and said, “This would be better if it were happening to you.” I cried too, because, OK, I was mad at my boyfriend, but mostly I was awed by her empathy. When you react well to a friend’s good news, it is the best karma (and is rewarded with a heaven of hot fudge sundaes).

Every one of these examples proves that the more in touch you are with your own feelings, the better friend you’ll be. Happier, too, but hopefully not so happy that no one wants to be friends with you

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