Danielle and Derrek

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Dear Danielle and Derrek,
Everyone wants to feel included and have friends, but how do I know if someone is really my friend? People turn out to be fake, or they don’t stand by me when things get tough. Are there any early signs or ways to know not to be friends with someone in order to prevent the pain that will come later? How can I be smarter about who I am vulnerable around?

Danielle: Wow, this is honestly a really tough question. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s appropriate to make a joke about Derrek, so I’ll just start answering your question. In my experience, there is not a formula for a good friend. I can tell you that real friends are the ones that stand by you no matter what is going on in your life. They’re the ones that keep in touch even though you are hundreds of miles away from each other. When I was seven, I had a best friend, and when I moved away from her I was really sad, but we’ve stayed in touch as pen pals and now we text each other! The people who really value you will stand by you.

You asked about being vulnerable. As you open yourself up to a relationship with someone else, both you and your friend will be more vulnerable with one another. Honestly, I can’t promise you that you will never get hurt. In order to find true friends, there is a part of you that will have to be vulnerable. The other option is pretty awful, though, because if you try to protect your heart forever, you’ll never have a chance to make any friends at all. Finding a real friend and keeping them is usually worth a little (or a lot) of pain in my experience.

Derrek: Friendships can bring some of the best and worst memories ever. But here is one thing I know about the friendships I’ve had—I have yet to regret being friends with a person. I would never give up my good memories to get rid of the bad memories. Even when I have more bad memories than good ones, I still use that as an opportunity to learn. I learn about the type of people I want to be around. I learn that maybe I don’t want to be friends with that type of person.

You want to know how to be smarter about who to be vulnerable with? Here’s the honest truth: you can’t truly know except through experience. The best way to learn is through our mistakes. So, if you want to learn what a true friend is then you need to have a few people that don’t turn out to be true friends. What I’m trying to get at is that the best way to get a good friend is to go through a few difficult relationships first. That way you can learn what you want in a good friendship, and you can appreciate your good relationships for the beauty that they are.

But, keep this in mind. If you can’t seem to make any relationship work with a friend, you can move down to the South Pole with Santa and his lost toys.

Danielle: *Repeatedly bangs head against wall*

Derrek: But if Santa happens to live in the North Pole, you could lean on your family. When your friends aren’t providing the solid base that you need, your family is there to support you.


Don’t forget that you can send your own wacky, crazy, serious, sobering, or laughable questions to Danielle and Derrek! Just send an email to: Make sure to put ADVICE in the Subject Column