“There’s nothing worse than a wolf befriending sheep. Avoid false friendship at all costs. If you are good, straightforward, and well meaning it should show in your eyes and not escape notice.”MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 11.15
Avoid false friends — it’s pretty easy to understand (obvious even), and not something that anyone would really disagree with. A very clear message in today’s entry in The Daily Stoic.
Author Ryan Holiday attempts to flip the logic on its head here, and extend the wisdom to talk about how we shouldn’t be false friends or “frenemies” to others. He’s not wrong, but I think I prefer to stay focused on Marcus Aurelius’ original quote.
Keep company with people who are “straightforward”. Their intentions should be crystal clear and not need any deciphering. They should be as honest as a smelly goat. If your heart is free of entrapments and self-confusion, then the other person’s motivations should be immediately apparent to you.
Trust your gut, and avoid people who have ulterior motives — even if you’re feeling lonely and desperate for connection. If you fall in with these wolf-y friends, you’ll regret it more than the loneliness you feel in the moment.
And if you’ve already made some friends that you wish you hadn’t, it’s not too late to correct it and extract them from your life. But be certain to distinguish between the wolves and the important people in your life who mean well but are misguided — don’t run away from the latter.