Friend or Sycophant? Know the Difference
Most of us would say that we know who are ‘real’ friends are and that they are there for us no matter what. When you’re an adult, and as time goes by and things happen, you are made aware of the friends who are there by default and those who are truly friends in that they care for you, support you but also call you out when you need it and nudge the rough edges from you from time to time.
Many of us for years have banded together with either like minded people or with people we grew up with, worked with, associated etc. In this context sometimes it’s difficult to figure out who is a friend and who is an acquaintance.
There’s also that category of people who come into your life at a point in time, latch on and somehow become your biggest fan. They would drop everything to be there for you, go out of their way and suddenly you have this great ‘friend’ you never had before. They listen, they take your side and understand (or seem to) where you are coming from. It’s quite flattering and feels good. Till you realize they belong in the sycophant category. You can never do wrong in their eyes and you find yourself drawn to them for that ego boost and confidence injection which you should be giving yourself.
Beware the sycophants. You soon find yourself surrounded only by them coz they make you feel good. Whereas your buddy who has seen your good, bad and ugly will give you a knock to say ‘wake up and smell the roses. Don’t be lost in la la land.’ The sycophant will just say yes to whatever you think you should be doing. They may appear to paint real pictures to you but most often they are justifying your actions with zero moral code or ethics. Their goal is to please.
Sycophants may be conscious or unconscious about what they do. Most often it is conscious and strategic. It stems from their own insecurities – why would an adult need to fawn over another adult? That works when you’re a teenager. As an adult you should be comfortable with who you are. Getting attention from another person is not going to satisfy or fix your confidence issues. Similarly people who are drawn to sycophants are those who have low self confidence or an ego which needs satiating.
You see sycophants amongst the followers of popular artistes in society or prominent people. But it needn’t be some big superstar. Even someone perceived to be a community leader, influencer, opinion leader, someone who is considered good looking, can attract sycophants and even demand them.
Dropping everything you are doing and running to be with somebody each time they demand it is not necessarily a friend. That’s just someone who is there. You can be a friend to someone from miles away just by talking. Or through an email or message. Friendships aren’t about grand gestures of affection and care. You really should not need to prove your friendship. If it’s there, it’s there. You both know it and there is no need to reaffirm it. This is not to say that you must be indifferent and insensitive. But you don’t need to keep reaffirming the length and breadth of your friendship.
Grand statements on social media aren’t really proof of caring for people. This has been proven time and time again. So watch out for the sycophants and know that they aren’t really friends. You end up in a toxic-interdependency of massaging each other’s egos in a power-play scenario which is going to lead down the hill eventually. Recognise it and get out while you can.