Can Friends Be Too Supportive?

Have you ever had someone let you off the hook for something? Maybe you dropped a glass and it shattered all over the floor… at a friend’s house! Embarrassing, right? If they are nice and forgiving, they probably said, “oh no no! It’s fine. I broke 2 glasses yesterday. It happens all the time. Don’t worry about it.”

It’s nice to get some slack for an accident, but there is one area of life where understanding friends who give you slack are the worst ones to have, and it happens to be the most important area of life.

They Mean Well, But…

Nice, understanding friends are the ones who let you slip and get away with it, repeatedly. They tell you it’s ok when it really isn’t. They hurt you, unintentionally.

Think about personal trainers. These people you pay to motivate you and kick you in the rear when you’re slacking! Just about anyone could find a free workout routine to fit their needs, but not everyone can motivate themselves effectively. The motivation and accountability they provide must be valuable. Now what if your personal trainer allowed you to quit after one curl rep using a 5 lb dumbbell?

“Worst Personal Trainer Ever: Ok buddy. Great job. You can go home and drink soda now!”

You’d want a refund after gaining 20 pounds of FAT instead of muscle. Friends don’t always realize it, but it’s their job to be each others’ personal trainers of life.

The Role Of Friends

Friends are fun. They’re the people you choose over all others to spend your precious time with. They are universally known as being the people who are first in line to pick you up when you are in the dumps.

And that last one is the problem.

As we grow up and learn, this is our understanding of what a friend is – we’re supposed to “be there” for our friends. Too often, this turns into being “yes men” for each other – always supporting, never questioning. We falsely believe that being a friend means “being friendly.” Telling your friend they should quit their job or break up with their boyfriend isn’t friendly, but it’s what a real friend does when the situation calls for it.

Support, even for the wrong cause, feels good.

We need our friends to question us because we don’t have any other perspective other than our own, which is not always accurate. Because they are our friends and we know they care for our well-being, we will respect their point of view and consider it in our decision-making. The only thing worse than not having any support is having friends drive you into the ground by encouraging you to do the wrong things.

If your friends aren’t this for you, you can still be this for them. Tell your friends the hard truth when nobody else will, and hopefully they’ll return the favor someday.

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.

Robert

Hey Stephen,

Hope you’re well.

To me a true friend is someone who will quite simply be honest, rather than being nice for the sake of it and because it is the path of least resistance. Telling people what they want to hear is never the way forward. There are so many bullshitters out there that the people who “keep it real” and say it as it is are the ones that stand out in a good way. This same approach should be applied to friendships and all aspects of life.

A recent example was when I started sharing an office with one of my best friends. One of the first things that we agreed was that if there were ever any issues that they would be brought up and addressed straight away, which has led to a very healthy working relationship thus far.

Obviously there are ways of saying things but it’s always better to be real and potentially risk offending someone than to lie. Another example is helping a friend deal with weight issues, be sensitive but honest – isn’t it much better for them to realise the problem is serious and start addressing it than tell them that they’re “not that bad”?

Slavko Desik

I’ve noticed time and again that it’s a wake up call when a supportive friend decides to go against his habits of saying flowery prose. And with friends, when one of them lays the facts it’s quite more powerful. The sudden shift is apparent, thus giving you a wake up slap. And the aha moment that follows is just as powerful as well.

Stephen Guise

I agree Robert. It’s great that you and your officemate are honest, because when people share a space and they aren’t honest, tension slowly builds until they resent each other. I’ve seen it happen before.

Thanks for the insights. I hope you’re well!

Stephen Guise

It might sting at first, but it’s always worth it in the end. 🙂

marty

I see what you mean I have never applied this to my friend but I have to my family sometime being to kind can hurt and no one in the situation learns or grows

Emmanuel Obarhua

Wow this is just great, I didn’t expect less but it beats my imagination. I long to get friends that overlook my mistakes.

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