I've recently noticed some of the people that I consider my "good" friends growing distantly away from me, and other friends calling us "friends", but putting more on me than I think is reasonable.
In the spirit of clarification, here's what I'm willing to commit to as a friend. This list is living, subject to change, and open to interpretation and feedback, so feel free to comment... but here's what I've got so far:
As a friend, I promise to trust you and what you tell me. If you tell me you're capable of something, I'm going to trust that you are. If you tell me you're okay, I'm going to trust that you are. If you tell me you're going to be on time, I'm going to be ready. I expect you'll do the same in return.
As a friend, I promise to be there if you need me. No matter what the time, distance, or reason, if any conversation starts with the words "I'm in trouble and I need your help...", you will get it. You'll get no judgment, bitching, argument, or debate. I expect you'll do the same in return.
As a friend, I promise to offer advice and opinions, even if you don't ask for them, and even if you don't use them. I'll offer other points of view, other paths to take, experiences I've had, and realistic experiences, all in the hope that you can avoid running into the brick wall I believe I see ahead of you. I expect you'll do the same in return.
As a friend, I promise to continue our friendship, no matter how many times you run into that brick wall. I'll help pick you up, dust you off, patch your booboos, kiss them all better, and ask you one more time what the fuck you were doing running into brick walls again... but I'll be there. I expect you'll do the same in return.
As a friend, I promise to try to balance my needs with yours. When push comes to shove, we're all selfish bastards, but I won't ask more of you than I would give, and I won't ask you to sacrifice a million so I can have five. At times you'll have the upper hand and at others I will, but when your turn comes around and I'm there, I'll applaud you, encourage you, bow down to you, and not hold against you the fact that you did better than me. I expect you'll do the same in return.
As a friend, I promise to be honest with you, even if it's to my detriment. Anything I say to you is the truth as best I see it. I may occasionally sugar coat things, I may occasionally omit something, but if honesty demands it, you'll hear it; please be careful what you ask. I expect you'll do the same in return.
As a friend, I promise to understand if you need to pull away. We're all growing, changing, and learning, and who we are today may not be who we are tomorrow. If your happiness requires that I not be a part of your life, I would rather that you be happy than be with me. Yes, I'll wonder what went wrong, I'll wonder why we couldn't work it out, I'll wonder who could have changed or done differently, but if all of these promises are true then letting you do what you need to in order to be happy is the only thing I can do. I expect you'll do the same in return.
As a friend, I promise to be wrong. Not just mistake-one-baseball-team-for-another wrong, but to be blatantly, arrogantly, painfully, actively, irreproachably, wrong. Unintentionally, I will hurt you. I won't realize it at the time, I won't see it coming... but it will happen, and when it does and I'm suddenly aware, I will feel pain and remorse stronger than any physical torture could create, and I'll apologize, and I'll try to learn. I expect you'll do the same in return.
As a friend, I promise to accept your apology. We all make mistakes, and you and I are no different, and any apology that is given earnestly, with caring and affection, with true remorse, will be painfully accepted. It may take time for the bandages, the stitches, and the scabs of the backstabbing to come off, but I'll come back, say it's okay, and that we can move on. I may flinch with occasional paranoia or be suddenly afraid of knives, but if you can apologize, mean it, and learn something, I'll forgive you. I expect you'll do the same in return.
As a friend, I promise to support you protecting yourself, even if it's from me. If I break all of these promises repeatedly, if I disrespect you and our friendship so much that it's suddenly not there anymore, I expect to be kicked down, thrown to the curb in the rain, and splashed on by the nearest garbage truck. If another friend does the same, I'll drive the truck myself. Menial differences will happen, but if either of us is evil to the other, or someone else is evil to us, I'll stand next to you with all of my strength and support and that of everyone I know to help you make it through. Nobody fucks with my friends. I expect you'll do the same in return.
As a friend, I promise not to demand more than friendship in return. I understand that you are not my life, my only reason for being, and my basis of happiness. If I come to the a point where my need of our friendship forces you to be less than yourself, to live with constraints, or to give me more attention than I should need, I expect you to ask me what's wrong and correct my perspective; to remind me that we're not married, a matched set, or standing alone against the world. To remind me that my happiness, comfort, self-confidence, or solidarity is in me, and up to me, and not you, and that my happiness should rest only with me. And after being appropriately smacked down, I expect to be invited back into the party and lovingly nudged into the fold of the world to rediscover my own independence and happiness. I expect you'll do the same in return.
Responses? Additions? Changes? Exceptions?