Fair-weather Friendships

DCW asks: My friend, Patrick said “I wanted to be your friend because I wanted to be in your play,” then he wasn’t my friend anymore after the play. That’s when he said it. What should I do? I really want to be his friend.

Wow DCW, that’s really tough! It sounds to me like Patrick doesn’t really understand what friends are for, or what friendship is about. I imagine he’ll learn more as he gets older.

But for now, I don’t know Patrick. And you are my friend, so it’s you I want to help here.

I remember when I was a puppy, the first time I ever went to a dog park. The veterinarians had told Handsome not to let me go there till I was old enough, so it had been months since I’d played with any dogs, and those were usually puppies my own age. So I was so excited to go where dogs would be. But suddenly here I was in this gigantic place, filled with all sorts of dogs – every breed you can imagine, and every age. There were really hyper, yappy dogs that chased everyone but didn’t really want to play, and old stick-in-the-mud mutts that would growl at me when I’d come by, and some other cool dogs that really did want to play, but I didn’t know their rules. So no one played with me. No one at all. And instead of it being a fun day for me, it was really pretty sad.

Luckily I had Handsome to take me back home and pet me and tell me things would get better. I hope you have someone to do the same for you.

The big truth, DCW, is that you’re going to make friends. Lots of friends. And every one of them will have something about them that is difficult at some time. Maybe they won’t like to play a game you like. Or maybe they’ll be like Patrick and only want to be your friend while you’re playing a certain game – or even acting in a play. All you can do is to try to accept them as they are (Now that doesn’t mean you can’t tell them they’ve hurt your feelings – that’s always okay). And then you can see what’s possible with them. For example, maybe Patrick would like to be friends with you in certain other circumstances.

But if he doesn’t want to be your friend at all, the important thing is to not take it to heart. It’s his problem, not yours. If you’re like me, and you want to be friends with anyone who’ll be friends with you, you’re going to find a lot of people who choose not to befriend you. The good news is that there are always new friends out there to meet. And the more friends you make, the less someone like Patrick will matter to you.

Now by the way, after I’d gone to the dog park a few more times, I learned which dogs I wanted to play with, and made some great friends who I’d play with every time. I even made a best friend named Kuma, who I had play dates with and who sometimes sleeps over.

So don’t give up. The world is full of friends you don’t know yet!

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