“Some friendships are made by nature; some by contract; some by interest; and some by souls. And in proportion to these ways of uniting, so the friendships are greater or less, virtuous or natural, profitable or holy, or all of this together.” – Jeremy Taylor, “A Discourse on Friendship,” 1657.
How much lighter and fuller do you think your heart would be were you to be free of those so-called friends who in reality are little more than sycophants or leeches, those whose ultimate goal is to withdraw from you more than they deposit? Many potentially wonderful people have destroyed their lives by associating with the wrong people, but you need not do the same.
Friendships made by contract or interest are inherently less durable than those made by nature or souls. Holding on to friends equally, then, can lead to problems down the road. The failure to let go of friends when the time is right is no different than refusing to put away other childish things, such as a baby blanket or a favorite childhood toy. Attention paid to vestigial friends will limit the time you have to spend on those who truly matter.
A second type of “friend” to handle with caution is he or she who plays the martyr. Martyrs are zealous givers who give feverishly to avoid having to face the pressure of receiving. Their relentless giving frequently serves a genuine need, but it is sometimes barbed with a selfish intention to pique guilt in those whom they serve and to trap them, thereby, more deeply in their web. True friends give and receive freely.