Friends & Frenemies

The other day I was thinking about one of my favorite songs when I realized that it could be used to group “friends” into four main types: snakes, cats, rats, and dogs.

To keep it simple:

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Snakes are people whose main intention from the beginning was to harm you through deceptive means. They were never your friend at all, just good pretenders. Their main motivation is usually your destruction. It could be for the sake of vengeance or out of pride, or – worst of all – jealousy. In the end, it doesn’t matter. The outcome is never good.

Update: There’s another form of snake that should be mentioned, who’s not out to “harm” you directly, but who has goals that aren’t in your best interest – the leech.

Just like it sounds, these are bloodsucking people who are only there to get something from you: money, status, power, etc. It’s usually money. Watch out for them because they’re phony.

Rats are people who betray you in order to avoid harm coming to themselves. They may have genuinely cared about you at some point, but they are cowards. They’ll do anything to save their own skin, even if it means spilling the beans and taking everyone else down. Their main motivation is fear.

Cats are people who are obsessed with their own interests – the “what’s in it for me?” type. They can never know true friendship because friendship is a two-way street, and in their mind it’s all about them. They never cared about you at all, and for a fast buck they’ll set you up or leave you hanging with the quickness. Their main motivation is selfishness.

Dogs are true friends. They promote what’s in your benefit and protect you from harm. They’re honest and loyal – sometimes to a fault. As a pack animal, their main motivation is harmony and bonding within their inner circle.

Note: Not all people will show the same face to everyone. Someone who’s revealed themselves to be a snake to you could appear to be a dog to someone else. Not everyone inspires the same amount of envy in other people. The same goes for rats and cats: someone who’s true nature has been exposed to you due to certain situations you’ve gone through with them will not necessarily show those same traits to other people.

Clearly, dogs have the most to lose in these relationships because it’s hard to recognize your own with so many imposters around. So what’s a dog to do?

My advice? Although only time can reveal all, you should be selective about who you let into your inner circle. Don’t let strangers get too close to you too soon. A dog is only safe when running with other dogs, so watch out for the other types and keep them away from you.

When it comes to cats, look out for signs of one-sided situations, lack of reciprocity, and selfish habits. They’re easy to spot because they wouldn’t do for you what you would do for them, not even the bare minimum.

You can’t really detect a rat until things get real, so don’t get into serious situations with someone who hasn’t proven themselves. Better yet, handle your serious business by yourself if you can.

As for snakes, they often tell on themselves as much as they try to hide it.

Watch for a slip of the tongue when they say something shady, lots of gossiping, and an unusual amount of interest in your personal life. They might want to know a little too much about your close ones. You might catch them looking at your phone or computer screen.

That’s exactly the type of thing that someone obsessed with your destruction would do, because they’re looking for the best angle of attack.

The good news is, I don’t think there are too many snakes and rats out there. The bad news is, there’s not too many dogs out there either.

Whatever happens to you, you’ll probably survive it and grow from it. In the end, only your dogs will matter. Everyone else will fade away, moving on to the next thing. So make sure you always keep it real with your dogs. Those are your lifelong friends, through the good and the bad.

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