Different Levels of Friendship

By Greg Baer M.D.

July 12, 2019

We’ve become accustomed to guilt and obligation and lying to the point that we can’t imagine not living this way. Often these behaviors become quite conflicting, confusing, and exhausting. It’s easier to decide what you want to do or are capable of doing. Then tell the truth about yourself and feel free. Read how Ray accomplished this.

Ray called and described his friend, Andrew. Ten years earlier, they’d had a disagreement, and Andrew cut Ray out of his life. In the past year, however, Andrew had reappeared, and the two of them now got together perhaps every other month for an hour or two. The day before, Andrew called Ray and asked him to be the best man at his wedding.

“I’m not so sure how to feel about this,” Ray said.

“Because?” I asked.

“By asking me to be his best man, essentially Andrew is saying that I’m his best friend, but I don’t feel nearly that close to him. I think he just doesn’t have anybody else to ask, and he also knows that I’ll be entertaining and will make him look good at the wedding reception toast.”

“And how is this a problem?”

“Well . . .”

This was obviously uncomfortable for Ray, so I suggested some words only because he couldn’t speak them on his own: “It seems like he’s using you. It seems like he regards his friendship with you with a much higher value than you regard your friendship with him. Hence the term ‘using.’ And you don’t like it much, especially that he would ask this after cutting you off ten years ago.”

“Yes, that’s it exactly.”

“Your reaction is entirely up to you, but all you’re saying here is that the two of you regard your friendship differently, and I would say, So what? Between every two people one is taller, one is smarter, one is more something in every way. Apparently Andrew is more needy of your friendship than you are. He will get more out of your being his best man than you will. Again, so what? It is inevitable that every day we will deal with these differences with someone. Just decide whether you are genuinely willing to do this for him, regardless of anything he might ever do for you or has ever done for you–or to you. Are you willing to do this?”

“I’m not sure. I feel kind of obligated. How would I say no?

“Simple. You say that on that date you are unable to be there.”

“What if he asks me why?”

“You simply repeat that you can’t be there. You’ll be doing something else. You don’t owe anybody an explanation for what you choose to do.”

“That could be awkward.”

“Only if you allow it to be. I don’t explain myself to people. I say that I will or will not do a thing, and that’s it. If I agree that I WILL do something, does anybody ever ask for an explanation?”

Ray smiled. “I never thought of it in that way. What if he changes the date of the wedding so I can be there?”

“Unlikely, but if he does, then you can tell him that you just don’t feel comfortable being the best man, and you don’t really want to explain why. Just make a decision, yes or no. You don’t have to apologize or explain or feel obligated or guilty, all of which have become socially accepted, even expected. It’s true that he might become angry, and you might lose your friendship. But that’s just a piece of information you factor into your decision.

“This would be a very different way to live.”

“Oh, it’s quite enjoyable, actually.”

What You Can Do

You don’t have to live with the guilt, obligation and lying you thought you needed to keep everyone happy. You can replace it with peace and happiness.  It’s easier to decide what you want to do or are capable of doing. Then tell the truth about yourself and feel free. Learn how by listening to Real Love, the truth about finding unconditional love and fulfilling relationships.

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Learn how to tell the truth about yourself and feel FREE!


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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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