I have found in life that there are givers and there are takers.  I think generally most people fall somewhere in the middle.  In the last 50 years of my life I have mostly taken people at face value.  I don’t look for ulterior motives or wonder “what do they want?”  But as 50 approaches and I look towards the next 50 years of my life I think I will be a little more leery of people in general.
At the age of 50 I think we find we have a whole host of people involved in and a part of our lives, some actively a part and some just operating on the periphery of our lives.  During my 50 years I have accumulated aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, school acquaintances, neighbors, church friends, work contacts, in-laws, and I don’t know what else.  For the most part these connections have been cheerful acquaintances.  When I run into one of these people I’m generally happy to see them and catch up on their lives.
However, I have found that there are two types of people that are somehow mixed up in these groups.  They are the grumbler and the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  I think the grumbler description pretty much speaks for itself.  They are often unhappy, tragedy seems to follow them, and they are often fearful and paranoid.  Rarely do they ask how you are because they are too busy making sure you know how poorly they’ve been treated or what tragedy has befallen them most recently.
The grumbler is easily identified.  They don’t try to hide what they are.  They have been unhappy and fearful so long that they do not even realized what they have become.  Lending a sympathetic ear to a grumbler only validates their inferiority complex and paranoia.  The wolf in sheep’s clothing is a little harder to identify.  This person often appears to you as a happy, confident, trust worthy friend.  Someone you can be yourself with.  You sometimes can be sucked into believing that they are a true blue friend.

But then the day comes when you find that they aren’t what they have appeared to be at all.  Maybe the signs where there all along, but you just brushed them off.  They might tell you about some event in their life, but somehow the facts may change 3 or 4 times over a few months.  Maybe you let your guard down and let yourself be yourself and somehow they have turned this into innuendo and gossip with other people in your large circle.

Therefore I think for the next 50 years I will be a little more aloof.  When someone only wants to take and can’t be there to give you support when you need it then maybe its time to reevaluate the relationship  Friendships are based on trust, frankness, and mainly kindness and understanding.  The world is full of unkind people.  When they somehow slip into your life it can leave you a little stunned and broken hearted.  You may feel a little used.  But then you have to realize that you don’t need this sort of drama in your life and just pick up the pieces and try not to let it happen again.
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