As geeks, we tend to make friends with people that share our interests. I make friends and bond with them over fighting games, Magic:TheGathering and comic books. Usually, I end up getting very close to these people.

In Montreal, there’s something about the Tekken scene that is very unique: all of the players like to party. So all of the friends I made over Tekken also became my hanging out buddies, and eventually my party group too.

The great thing about that is when our interests diverge (for instance, some of the guys no longer play Tekken), we still remain friends, just because I like them as people.

However, there is a flip side. Sometimes, as gamers, we make friends with people that are less than savory. People we tolerate, but don’t necessarily enjoy hanging out with. People that share common interests, but with whom you’d rather not pursue any other type of relationship besides as opponents in a fighting game.

A good friend of mine likens it to a business relationship. And sometimes, for one reason or another, these relationships must end. In my case, I identify two main types of people I don’t want to hang out with.

A Negativizer

Here’s the thing: I have trouble dealing with people that bring me down, and negative people talk about their badness all the time.

“My life is hard, my job sucks, everyone is mean, this game is awful, that dude is a racist, I want to die.”

It drives me crazy, because there are solutions to all of those things.

Your job sucks? Get a new one. People are mean? Go live in a box. This game is awful? Don’t play it. That dude is a racist? Stop hanging with him. You want to die? Kill yourself and get it over with, I’m out of here. (Note: if someone is genuinely suicidal, call social services, they have a procedure for this).

Two of my gamer friends went through hellish, near-death experiences, and you know what? They didn’t complain. Sure there were some rough patches where they were a little down, but in the end, they kept a positive attitude, and are now both thriving. They keep on trucking, despite the adversity, and I appreciate them more and more for it.

A Taker

In any relationship, there is always a give and take. You help a buddy move, he watches your dog when you’re out of town. The sign of a good, healthy friendship, is that it’s mutually enjoyable and beneficial to both people.

And then there are the people that use you. You know the ones. The dude that always wants to borrow money but never returns it or lends you any. The chick that just calls you up when she feels down and needs reassurance, but isn’t there for you when your dog dies . The people that enjoy taking from your life in many ways, but never contribute anything useful to your existence.

Oh no! What do I do to escape?

You defeat their evil, Mega Man. When I realize that someone I’m hanging out with regularly is one of these two, I cut the chord. Either I phase them out, and slowly hang out with them less and less until they disappear, or I literally break up with them.

It’s a hard thing to tell a friend that you don’t want to hang out with them anymore, but sometimes it has to be done. It’s more important to preserve yourself and make sure you’re in a good place, rather than preserve someone else’s feelings while you suffer.

Often enough, the problem is we’re comfortable with our situation. Why go through the effort of ending a friendship, and barging into the unknown, when I can stay in a stagnant relationship that I know very well?

I’ll tell you why: because you’re missing out on a good friend.

I firmly believe we only have so many close friend slots in our everyday lives. Depending on your job, your social circle, and your amount of free time, you can fit anywhere from 1 to 10 close friends. Other people will be family, acquaintances, colleagues, and still valuable, but less close.

So, if you only have 5 close friend slots, and 1 of them is being filled up by a negativizer, you’re missing out. You could, instead, eliminate the negativizer, and make room for a genuine awesome friend, one that will you will both enjoy and be enjoyed by.

What brought this on, guy?

Look, I’m going to level with you. I recently got burned pretty badly by someone I considered a good friend. This person, who helped me out in a great way, is the source of some awesome things that have occurred in my life these past few months. However, a fight occurred between this person and someone else, and while trying to mediate, I somehow became the bad guy.

Since then, my “friend” has treated me like shit, and I really began to feel bad about myself whenever we were around each other. So, friendship over. I am a little sad for my ex-friend, because treating someone badly is often a reflection of how you treat yourself, but I’m also glad our relationship is over.

I am still shocked at how suddenly things changed between us. Thankfully, sometimes lessons like this help us grow. In my case, it made me value the good times I spend with the people I really care about.

Do you have any friendships that ended? Takers and/or negativizers that you want to stop hanging out with? Bad friends you want to get rid of? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

7 comments add your comment

  1. I love the term “close friend slots.” Definitely agree that who you associate with determines much of who you become! Great thoughts…I really enjoy your gaming/life parallels. πŸ™‚

    • Dude, thanks for your praise! I am a gamer at heart, and often find myself comparing the real world to games. Just yesterday I was telling my buddy how awesome it would be if there was background music coming out of the air around us πŸ˜€

      A friend of mine mentioned the idea of close friend slots, and how we only have so many, they shouldn’t be wasted on people that are bad for us. This article stemmed from that comment.

  2. When I moved from MN to OH, I left lots of negative people in the dust, and in the last year I have grown so much more positive and my self-esteem is higher then its ever been. This is great advice and more people need to hear it.

  3. I like the concept of friend slots, that’s certainly how I see things too, but I actually have an extra slot or two for shitty friends. What’s a shitty friend ? To me, it’s someone who rides the dotted line between a decent friend and a toxic one. Still fun some the time, but kind-of unsatisfying, like diet soda. They’d be great friends if they weren’t so miserable and fake.

    Their purpose is quite simple: it’s a lot easier to dissect someone else’s shortcomings than your own. In criticizing their self-misery and/or helping them grow, I learn a lot about my own shit. Conversely, if my influence and persistence can help them become a better person, it’s a win-win. Worst case, if I decide they’re hopeless, they still serve as an example of what not to do πŸ˜‰

    From as far back as I can remember, I always had a shitty friend like that. When I was just a few years old, my shitty friend slot was occupied by a lying, selfish little sack of shit who pulled people in only to hurt them. Even at that naΓ―ve age, it taught me the importance of self-respect.

    Thirty years later, with several dozen shitty friends under my belt (insert obvious joke), you’d think I would have learned to avoid certain types people. I have, yet I still keep the slot filled at all times. I simply set better boundaries with those people. It would be easy to ditch the shitty friend, and sometimes you have to, but there is often wisdom to be found in the struggle itself.

  4. These are some good, useful and realistic insights Rami. Great site, man! When is the book scheduled to be complete?

    • If all goes according to plan, July 5th I’ll be done. Then it’s a matter of finding a publisher and getting the sucker out πŸ˜€

  5. I’ve been doing research on how to get rid of this evil classmate of mine. She constantly uses me and blames me for her problems. She messed up my percussion ensemble and now I’m “The Bad Guy”. I’m glad other people are feeling the same way. Unfortunately, this person is unavoidable and is in every single one of my classes and groups like Student Council, NJHS, and she changes the sign with me because I made the mistake of choosing her to help me in 6th grade way back when she was “nice”. I don’t know why but I just have this compelling feeling that I have to care about what she thinks and to be better than her, even though she is a shallow selfish being. She has every single student wrapped around her nasty little finger, even the teachers too. I feel as If I am all alone in the world. She has started to bully me and has almost everyone turned against me even though I am a nice smart and quiet student. Sighs… any advice to deal with this monstrosity of a human being would be nice. Thanks!

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