• Jessica Richmond

Why Do We Need a Friend?

This week I had a very interesting experience. I joined Facebook and made a lot of new friends. 5,000 to be exact. Yes, you heard me right! I made 5,000 friends in just 7 days. I made the maximum number of friends that Facebook will allow. You may be wondering how is it possible to make so many new friends in such a short period of time? Especially for someone who has a busy schedule like me, working a full-time job, and in class for hours each day. I just don’t have the extra time to go on Facebook and send out friend requests. In fact, I only sent out about twenty. The other 4,980 friends that I made came by their pursuit of me. After a fast and frenzied week of accepting so many friend requests that my hand hurt from clicking that little blue button, “Confirm,” I was left wondering what happened? How did this happen? Why did it happen? What made so many people want to be my friend? It’s not like I was giving away money, nor was I some celebrity. I joined Facebook to share my blogs with a wider audience, and I merely posted just one small blog and my picture on Facebook. So, what was going on here? What's the big attraction?

Well, it didn’t take me long to figure it out. While I was innocently accepting friend requests, I was getting bombarded by chat messages and video calls by my newfound friends. All of them male. All of them Indian. Wait, that’s not totally true. There was a healthy supply of Islamic men as well. I just didn’t count them because I could not read their Arabic messages. Anyway, well over 100 missed calls and messages were waiting for my response. Could all of these men really be interested in psychotherapy, and my blog post on what, “I Miss You,” really means? That would be nice, but I don’t think so. So, what were all these attempts at contacting me about?

I decided to take a stroll through some of my new friend’s pages. Wow! I was actually shocked to see pictures of naked or nearly naked blond women in sexual positions, and close-up pictures of boobs and butts. You see, for many Indians, white women are very attractive, and it’s not just for our fair skin color. But also, because we can be their gateway to the western countries, where there is opulence and freedom. And, of course, we also can be their lover. Western women are seen as “easy” to Indian men because we are known to have sex without the requirement of being married. To confirm my suspicions, I responded to a few of their chat messages, knowing full well that I will not fall for their tricks. Many of them responded instantly with messages like, “Hi Beautiful,” or, “Very nice photo.” Others were not so smooth, and lobbed comments at me like, “Speak,” or, “Why aren’t you answering my call?” Some got a little trickier using some emotionally manipulative techniques to try to evoke empathy, such as, “I miss you," "I love you," or, "I think you are not answering my video chat request because you don’t like Indian men." My favorite was, “I want to learn English from you, please teach me.” Yeah, right. The only English that dude wanted to learn were the few words for the select female body parts that were plastered all over his Facebook page.

I share all of this with you to highlight a point that I teach often to my clients. It is a simple point, but one that we often don’t apply in our own life. And then we get tricked or manipulated and we can’t figure out why. The point is this: Everybody who is your friend wants something from you. That thing they want could be good or bad, we don’t know. But they surely want something. They might not realize it, and you may not see it. However, if you look closely enough, their desire for something from you is always there. It can be hidden much better in real life than on Facebook where people don’t have to be held accountable or be responsible for their behavior. Your friend may want something simple from you, like to have a companion to do something with. Or, they may want something like sex, or your money. They may want to associate with you because it makes them look better, or because you are smarter or are more socially or politically connected. Or they may just like your cooking or how you listen to them unload about their troubles in life. Whatever the case, they are definitely in the friendship to fulfill some of their needs.

And, the honest truth is, so are you. Yes, my friends, it is true. You are also using them for getting some of your needs met. This may sound harsh, but take some time to introspect and see it for yourself. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. You could just like a person's company because you are happier when they are around, and you feel lonely without them. You could like a person because they are fun to go out to the movies with, or hiking, biking, tennis, shopping, dancing, or prancing. It doesn't really matter what the reason. The point is that we all have friends to meet some of our emotional needs that we can't seem to meet on our own. And having a need that we can't fulfill on our own makes us weak. The stronger our need, the weaker we become. If we are feeling lonely, unloved, unattractive, or unimportant, we become perfect prey for those Facebook predators. All they have to do is lob over a one-liner that matches with what we are looking for, and we can be theirs for the taking.

The key is to know yourself deeply. Know where your weak spots are emotionally. What's missing? What void are you looking for others to fill? It's not an easy path. The well-worn path is much more comfortable for us. The path of using another to get our needs met. But it never works out very well in the end. So when you are ready to befriend yourself and make the truest, deepest and only real friendship there is to be made, then try this out. Start looking inside your heart to see if there is some way that you can nurture your weak spots on your own. It might feel awkward and strange getting to know yourself at an emotional level. It's like taking yourself on a date. But it's the only true game in town. And it is not until you have filled your own self up emotionally, that you really are able to share with another. Otherwise, we run around like hungry beggars, begging and giving scraps to each other.

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