Of friends and opportunists | By Rashid A Mughal


Of friends and opportunists

MANY years ago, I stopped communication with a once very close friend. I could put my finger on certain situations that made me decide to do this.

As I matured, it was clear to me, my friend was an opportunist and not just with me but with every other relationship in life- family, friends, boyfriends, colleagues etc. I didn’t agree with it and it wasn’t something that would ever change, so I had to decide what kind of friends I really wanted to surround myself with.

Turned out, I wasn’t the only one that spoke up about it. Looking for opportunity is a good thing. It’s expansive. By definition, an opportunist is one who sees a chance to gain some advantage from a situation, often at the expense of ethics or morals. And yet, many people make time for these opportunists.

Perhaps because opportunists are great at portraying what a good friend looks like. They know how to manipulate their way back in even if they have caused pain. So how can you really spot an opportunist?

It’s the ones that seem to always be asking you for favours, but would never return those favours. They are the persons who take advantage of someone else so that they can get some monetary/material gain, costly gifts, fame…. Anything that makes them feel ahead in life. You’ll notice, they have a new group of friends every few months.

They don’t really hang around with the old ones anymore. They stop calling you back, ignore your calls and messages but remember you only when you are needed. They can’t seem to hold relationships.

Sadly, they go for the weakest link. If you are super forgiving, be careful. Forgiving is a good thing, but forgiving and then leaving the door wide open is bate for the opportunist. They have a pattern of being really sweet and nice when they need something.

They are good at playing genuine and caring and then they change out of the blue when they’ve moved on or you haven’t given them what they want. They are there for fun! But, when things get serious, they run. Have you ever experienced such opportunists? Take a moment to think about who you consider your friends to be.

I’m not talking about who you’re connected to on social media or the folks that you’re cool with and speak to, every once in a while.

I’m referring to the individuals who you tell your deepest secrets to. The people who will sit up on the phone with you through a break-up, have encouraged you every time you’ve taken a calculated risk and affirms you every chance they get. Who are those folks? True friends of course.

It has taken me years—decades, really—to figure out who my true friends are. Do you know what the bump-and-bruises of discovery have taught me? A good friend is one of God’s greatest gifts and a bad “friend”? They are about the most destructive and disappointing thing that can ever happen to a human being.

When a lot of us think about the word “loyal”, we tend to think about someone who will have our back no matter what.

That’s a part of it but what a person who’s loyal to the core will also do is be faithful and committed to you, no matter what they hear about you. No matter how inconvenient it might be at times.

Through good times and bad, what they said they’d be to you and do for you, nothing can make them waive because they aren’t loyal, based on emotion but they are loyal based on their character.

Loyalty is invaluable and extremely rare. If you even have two loyal people/friends in your life, consider yourself mighty blessed. Truly honest persons are both sincere and frank. They are with you because they love you and they want to see you win.

Friends who are protective are friends who will defend you, both in and out of your presence. They let people know that when it comes to you, they will not tolerate any shady talk, slick implications or attacks on your being.

If you’ve got some protective friends, hold on to them. Never lose them. They deserve it. Compassion is one of the words where you really have to put your money—and by “money” what I really mean is character—where your mouth is.

What I mean by that is it really doesn’t matter how compassionate you say or think that you are, unless you are literally looking at people who are having a hard time and then doing what you can to make life easier for them, you’re probably not as compassionate as you think. Sincere friends appreciate you, take your thoughts and feelings into consideration and treat you with utmost dignity; they make you feel valuable to them.

The reason why I choose to put respect on this list rather than love is because, to me, respect is one of greatest displays of love, especially when it’s coming from a friend. A good friend will always find time for you but a bad friend (which isn’t a friend at all actually) only makes time when it’s convenient for them. That’s largely because basically they are selfish people. They really are the absolute worst.

How could they not be when they are so consumed with themselves that no one else really matters? A selfish person doesn’t really do things for others unless they can directly pinpoint what they’ll get out of it.

A selfish person will totally dismiss your needs, just because they are in a bad mood or they feel what they’ve got going on is more pressing. A selfish person is so arrogant that they would rather lose you than admit when they’re wrong and would never try to make things right.

— The writer is former DG (Emigration) and consultant ILO, IOM.


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