When I was in my late teens I had a best friend whom I was always with. We had a lot in common. Both of us were the youngest in our families, our fathers passed away while we were both 19 years old and we had the same obsession with fashion like most girls do. We met in high school where we were 2 out of the 4 Muslims there. Then we entered the same varsity together and became closer than ever before. Zaina* was the older one. She was beautiful and she knew it therefore she could charm her way into getting anything she wanted from people. I admired her confidence and her street-wiseness. Not to mention, I was also at the peak of my obsession with Arabic culture at the time so I learned a lot about it from her. However, Zaina had a big weakness - she was a compulsive liar and I mean a major, big time liar. She would lie about the simplest things that it wouldn't make sense for anyone to not tell the truth about these things so naturally I would believe her.
One day, I couldn't take the deception anymore. I was so used to it I was able to tell when she was telling the truth and when she wasn't; and everytime she told a lie I would just pretend to go along with it just for the sake of our friendship. However, I reached a breaking point where I couldn't stand being lied to by someone I genuinely cared about. It was hurtful and disrespectful and I simply didn't want to be friends with her anymore. As much as I tried I just couldn't. Things weren't the same because I would doubt everything she told me. I would have to remember all the other details she told me in the past to make sure they all added up. In the end I decided it was too confusing and soul-draining because the trust was gone.
Today, Zaina doesn't live in New Zealand anymore. I've blocked her from my Facebook and MSN because there is no point in keeping in touch with someone I don't trust. I really hoped it wouldn't have to come to this as I am quite a soft-hearted person and I care about people, sometimes much too easily. However, my experience with Zaina has taught me to be careful with whom I choose as my close friends.
Along the years I've come across other not-so-nice people and upon learning about their negative attributes I would pry myself away from such friends. However, an episode similar to what I faced with Zaina happened recently and I didn't want to make a big deal out of it (as usual) so I pretended like I didn't know about her lies. Deep down inside, I was very disappointed. . . even more so with myself than her. My 'liar radar' was working just fine and I knew this person would be a risk but I chose to ignore the red flags altogether all in the name of friendship. I believe in kindness and giving people chances. I believe in helping others and I don't expect anything in return except for a very simple gesture called honesty. However, what happened recently made me realise how selfish people can be but it also made me appreciate all the wonderful people that I do have in my life and how lucky I am to have them. For quite a while I couldn't get over the fact that I had allowed such a thing to happen once more but then I realised that if it weren't for horrible experiences with people I wouldn't recognise a true friend the way I can today. I wouldn't have learned that sincerity and honesty are virtues I value more than anything else in a friendship. I decided it was time to let go of my distress and that it was more important to be the kind of friend I wish I had more of; one with an open heart filled with positivity, hope and earnestness.
What do you value most in a friendship and how do you tell if someone is a good friend or not?
*not her real name
*not her real name