Who Is Really Your Friend?

Who is really your friend?

Your dog.

Let’s start with your best friend.

Dogs are not fickle, they don’t lie, and they stick by you.

Mark Twain said, “If heaven went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would get in.”

Lest you take me as a hopeless misanthrope, know that it ain’t so. I love people.

And yet I find dogs often more reliable (you can see  my “Pugs of Persuasion”, Rollo Tamasi and Parker, in the photo above).

A good friend of mine and longtime private client – whose name you would recognize but I shall withhold (for reasons soon obvious), phoned me recently. He wanted some help with headlines to test on a new promotion.

We talked about a campaign that went sour on him a couple years ago.

At that time a number of “friends”, who had supported said campaign, attacked him in a public forum. Mostly, it seemed, as a way to make themselves look better.

“I sure learned who my real friends were,” he told me. “And I won’t forget it.”

My hope for you is it won’t take a “problem” like this for you to figure out this vital information.

Find out now who you friends are. Or they may turn on you in a crucial moment someday… hoping to throw you on the altar in order to save their own skins or to feather their own nest.

Worth knowing: who is who.


Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

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  • TPL001

    A friend demonstrates loyalty, fidelity and trust (loyalty and fidelity are synonyms, I believe). Love is what a person does, in action; and it is not limited to what comes out of their mouth. Great swelling words and emotional persuasion in relationships cannot hide the actions of an individual. However, it is not always easy to see this demonstrated in a person’s life without first having to relay upon them for something. I think that Jesus had it right when Scripture states that he did not commit himself to “man” because he knew what was in man. This should mean that we have to enter relationships of mutual dependence with our eyes open, knowing that there will be some who breach trust and fidelity.

    •  @TPL001  Thank you for a very well thought out response to this post.  I especially liked this comment you made: “Great swelling words and emotional persuasion in relationships cannot hide the actions of an individual.”

  • Real friends are hard to come by…they take investment.
    Be a friend and you will eventually find a friend.
    Most people are so busy looking for someone to be a friend to them BEFORE they will venture out and be a friend to others. Then they wonder why no friend has materialized.
    Invest in others and you eventually find a real friend.
    In truth, I have found few that really qualified as deep friends. I was fortunate several years ago to find one of the best friends I have had in life. What made him that kind of friend? He could see my flaws…talk to me in private about what he saw, and still go in public and be my best defender. In turn he took my concerns about his issues to heart and listened as well.
    We planned to be strategic with each other and both of us benefited because of that.
    A real friend not only is loyal, but is open to private questioning of his intentions…while also willing to gently, but boldly help you clarify your own intentions in life. 
    2 years ago he passed with a heart attack, and is greatly missed.
    Invest in several potential friends and see what develops.
    I believe a wise man has 2-3 deep friends near him at all times.
    “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” Proverbs 27:6a

    •  @dhammett I find it hard to put a number on this subject (as in, only have 2 or 3). But I do find that true friends are much harder to come by than they seem. Thanks for your insights!

      •  @RayEdwards I understand your reluctance. I find if I quantify something I make better progress toward the goal. My closest friends are men I am totally open with…that takes a commitment of time on my part as well as theirs. So I don’t want to over commit in this area. Nor do I want to settle for just saying I will have deep friendships and not be proactive at making it happen. Though I am stretched at 3, I always keep a number of friends in a circle I consider as real friends, but not of the closest variety. Being able to invest in others lives is a privilege and the more relationship capital we have with others, the better positioned we are to be able to help them in time of need. 
        I think the numbers are just something that helps me keep my priorities straight and no over commit. May not work for everyone, but it has been a helpful target for me now for over 30 years. 

  • TPL001

    you certainly have it right, when you state that friends are an investment. My comment, below, suggests that we do not know if anyone can be a friend. It does require what you suggest: time and investment. It also requires courage, because “friends” can turn and rend you at the first sign that their self interest is going to be compromised (or, indeed, that the test of their friendship, loyalty, is going to require a cost on their part). It is interesting to contemplate what you suggest, that a true friendship does take time, and risk on our part.  In some ways it is like developing a business relationship: you provide value for your client, as Ray has so aptly articulated it, recently, and they in turn provide value for you.
    My experience is that in business money is a big distraction and it changes people’s intentions and actions. It reveals what is truly in the heart. If a relationship is only founded upon commercial advancement, then it is reasonably shallow. But as you note, it is up to us to take that risk and do the investment first, and see what comes. (I have always liked the deep relationship between Jonathon and David – I believe that it was one of them that was going to risk their life for the other. And Scripture suggests that their love was akin to that between a man and a woman (i.e. fidelity, not sexuality, which I have to unfortunately clarify in an epoch such as ours).

    •  @TPL001  I believe you hit on a real key when you pointed out that money is a “distraction and it changes people’s intentions”. It seems very important that we not allow an external, fleeting measure like money change our intentions. Otherwise, I have to wonder if they were really intentions at all-perhaps they were only whims.

  • Ray, I totally agree with you that Dogs are reliable friends. No too long ago, a friend said “dog is God spelled backwards.” I do not think it is a coincidence that dog is God spelled backwards. God is very reliable, he is very compassionate and above all, God is LOVE – 1 John 4:8. Furthermore, in John 15:15, Jesus calls us friends. He is indeed a dependable friend who will not jump ship when things a tough.

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  • Friends are willing to provide valuable feedback, even constructive criticism — but they don’t do it in a public forum. And, while I love dogs, having a cat on my lap purring always feels extra “friendly” to me.

  • Wouldn’t it be awesome if people wore signs around their neck saying “trustworthy, reliable friend available”. I guess the question I have for myself is would I qualify to wear that sign?

    • If people did wear such sign, would we believe them? There’s a maxim: what you are speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you’re saying.

  • I have six dogs and agree they are truly ‘man’s best friend’. However, it is with my human interactions that I continue to learn and grow from the inside out. Yes, we can learn about unconditional love and trust from animals, but people teach us how to measure our words and deeds in a way that is appropriate for honest human understanding.
    Connie Ragen Green