over the years, growing older, wiser and more tolerant (my blog, my boast, so stop smirking!) i've come to realise that there are no set parameters to weigh a friend. in fact, you shouldn't even attempt it. there are characteristics, unforgivable in one person, that will be tolerated or ignored in another.
and you should not make demands of friends. you can have reasonable expectations of them. that they should defend you when you are being maligned. but you can't demand it.
there maybe broad filters on which you choose a friend -- can't be a rapist (other crimes like murder and theft can be considered on a case by case basis), preferably sane (but this again can be compromised), can't be a spouse-basher, can't be a mormon (they don't like outsiders, so why should we like them), etc, etc...
but you can't go deeper than that.
yet, so often you wonder what drives 'friends' to do 'non-friendly' stuff. for instance, why would they report a conversation to you, about you, that actually does little else but upset you?
and why some friends feed of your grief or sadness... i know some who look almost stricken when you begin to feel better mentally!
below is a forward from a friend who though a little insane, to her credit is not a mormon, criminal or spouse-basher (i think)... and that kind of sums up what we should expect from a friend.
The Socrates Triple Filter Test
In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, 'Do you know what I just heard about your friend?'
'Hold on a minute,' Socrates replied. 'Before telling me anything, I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test.'
'That's right,' Socrates continued. 'Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say. That's why I call it the triple filter test.'
'The first filter is TRUTH. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?'
'No,' the man said, 'actually I just heard about it and....'
'All right ,' said Socrates. 'So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of GOODNESS. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?'
'No, on the contrary...'
'So,' Socrates continued, 'you want to tell me something bad about him, but you're not certain it's true. You may still pass the test though, because there's one filter left: the filter of USEFULNESS. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?'
'No, not really.'
'Well,' concluded Socrates, 'if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?'