Bad friends are more detrimental to your life and general wellbeing, more so than enemies. In fact, more often than not enemies do not affect our wellbeing at all if truth be told. This is simply because we stay away from our enemies, and are suspicious of everything they do. Bad friends, however, are all around us.
Most people haven’t actually taken the time to understand what a bad friend actually is. The first thing to understand is that a bad friend is first and foremost a friend. A bad friend might be a real friend. A bad friend might be a loving friend. A bad friend might be a dependable friend. When most people think of bad friends, they imagine backstabbers. I am here to tell you that is not the case. A backstabber is not a friend at all, to begin with. A bad friend is simply a friend that is bad for you. A friend who puts your well-being at risk is a bad friend. That includes friends that only tell you what you want to hear. It includes friends that pressure you to drink or do drugs or spend money you do not have. It includes friends that steal you away from what is important to you, such as family, rest, and work. It includes friends that force you into morally questionable situations and thus bring bad karma into your life. Bad friends include friends that encourage you to cheat and steal and lie.
Again, to be clear, bad friends are not necessarily bad people. Many bad friends are decent folk. But bad friends have a unique way of not restoring balance into our lives. For instance, a bad friend wouldn’t say, ‘hey, we drank a lot of liquor over the weekend, why don’t we take the next couple of days off and replenish our system.’ A bad friend wouldn’t say ‘let’s think up ways to clear your debt before we talk about partying hard again.’ A bad friend won’t tell you to take time off from work to recoup.’
The problem with bad friends is they feel good— more so we are addicted to them. They help us deal with our demons—the loneliness—the boredom. Our need to belong. They make us feel cozy inside, even though they are slowly destroying us. They are like painkillers. They ease the symptom but do not address the root cause. Bad friends are a key reason why many people are either unsuccessful or can’t seem to stay successful for long. And when I speak of success I do not necessarily mean financial success, but general wellbeing.
I am reminded of a book I read earlier this year titled ‘A little life.’ A mammoth read, coming in at over 700 pages, the book left me pondering about what a good friend actually is. The book’s main protagonist, Jude is a man that is addicted to self-harm. His loving friends know about the indescribable harm Jude inflicts upon himself but really do nothing of significance to help their friend. Yes, they patch up his cuts and occasionally yell at him, but for the most part, they take no major steps in intervening in a way that is right for Jude because they do not want to hurt Jude’s feelings (I suppose.) As much as the author tries to paint Jude’s friends as amazing, it occurred to me that a person can have loving friends, and such loving friends can be good people, but even loving friends that are good people can be bad friends. But still, in the midst of all the frustrating scenes of bad friendships that the book presented its readers with, withen it was a gem that describes beautifully what a good friend is. It goes as such:
‘The only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all, but the best as well’,
The above content is an excerpt from Obinna Ofor's upcoming book, Potatoe Pie: a satirical and morbid reflection of our paradoxical society. Obinna's Debut Novel, The Sky Sage, is available worldwide.