Dear Vicki: Sammy and I met at the restaurant where we both work and something clicked between us. Even though we’re pretty different (Sammy is really loud and laughs a lot, I’m much quieter and more of a slow mover), our friendship has been growing for almost a year now and I’ve come to think of her as my best friend. But lately, I’ve caught Sammy lying to me which is something I would never, ever do. It hasn’t been big things, but it’s made me question if I can trust her. For example, we agreed to buy a birthday gift together for another girl at work, but then Sammy went in on a gift with someone else. And just last week we set up a time to meet for dinner, but she never showed and didn’t answer my texts. Later, I found out she was at the movies with her brother. Sammy is such an outgoing, funny person that it’s super having her as a best friend, but the lying is a big problem. Relationships matter a whole lot to me and I need to trust my closest friends. What can I do about Sammy? Signed, Needs Honesty
Dear Needs Honesty: It’s never easy to discover that someone is intentionally not telling us the truth. It does make it harder to trust them, and trust sits at the core of every relationship. While it is never really okay to lie, there are different kinds of “mis-truths” and different reasons they happen. One person’s “exaggeration” is another person’s lie. Different people have different ideas of what constitutes truth, and that’s especially relevant to our elemental personalities. I think if we take a closer look at the elemental personalities of you and Sammy, we might see where some of those differences stand.
You describe Sammy as someone who is outgoing, funny, and laughs a lot. That is a very apt description of someone with a primary Fire personality. You, on the other hand, are likely a primary Earth personality given your strong need to trust your closest friends and the importance you place on relationships. And it’s no wonder you two clicked. In the Five Elements model, Earth and Fire relate on the Nurturing Cycle, with Fire feeding Earth. As an Earth person, a connection with Sammy will have an undercurrent that feels nurturing to you, something Earth people value. And Sammy probably appreciates her relationship with you because in nature, an earthen hearth is a very natural and safe container for fire. She probably feels very supported by you. The combination of your Earth stability and Sammy’s joyful Fire is sure to be good for both of you.
What I think is going on for you and Sammy is something that occurs in every relationship: the newness is wearing off. That means the focus on good behavior and making a good impression is relaxing. This isn’t to say that Sammy doesn’t care about you as much, it’s more that she trusts your connection enough to relax into more of her real self. And for her, that means more of her natural Fire energy will begin coming out. That can be good news or bad, depending on how you look at it. Most importantly, you need to understand Sammy’s behavior.
While Wood personalities focus on the future, and Metal personalities focus on the past, Fire people live most of their life in the “now.” The past and the future are rarely top of mind for them. The freedom to be spontaneous also matters a great deal to primary Fire personalities. I have known many Fires who make plans for the future with every good intention of following through, only to become distracted by something else in the now and miss the planned event entirely. Fires can also forget that they ever gave a yes to someone about something (like going in on a gift) and will later give a conflicting yes to a different person.
In truth, I serious doubt that Sammy is blatantly lying to you. I think she probably had every intention of going in on a gift with you as planned, but forgot she’d agreed to that and then leapt (in a Fiery way) at a different gift opportunity presented in the now. The same is likely true about your movie date. Dinner with you was a great idea, but then along came her brother and suggested a movie and off she went, forgetting about your date. That is often the way of a Fire; they love spontaneity and just don’t have a lot of structure, so don’t do well sticking to plans.
I encourage you to accept Sammy’s fiery ways as part of who she is. That is, after all, the definition of our primary elemental personality. It is who we are at a deep level. However, you don’t need to (and in fact, should not) put aside who you are as a primary Earth personality. Trust and dependability matter to you, and Sammy would probably agree that they are important. It’s just that what trust and dependability look like to a Fire person will be different from what they look like to an Earth person.
For you, trust and dependability probably come from repeated experiences where you have learned that the person will be good to their word, show up as planned, and demonstrate that they have your best interests at heart. You learn this based on the passage of time. Sammy, however, focuses on the now. She will be more likely to decide she can trust you based on how she feels about you now, not something from the past. Your Earth is a safe container for her Fire, and as odd as this may sound, she will sense this about you, so will feel good about you and will trust you. And the dependability? That’s the middle name of every Earth personality on the planet. Earth people are nothing if not dependable! You have probably demonstrated this to Sammy from the day you met. But more importantly, she feels you as dependable.
There is another basic difference between you and Sammy at a primary personality level that I think will help you better understand Sammy. Both Fire people and Earth people care deeply about connections. For both of you, connecting is a top priority, and that is great news. However, as an Earth personality, you will care about deep connections that last over time. But Sammy, not so much. Her Fire will care more about quick and fun connections in the now. This is an important difference and one that you need to accept as part of who Sammy is.
This doesn’t mean your friendship with Sammy is doomed. But it does mean that you can’t assume you’re on the same page regarding your relationship priorities. I suggest you have a talk with Sammy (not too heavy – her Fire will flee), sharing how much she means to you and that you really want to be able to count on her honoring her commitments; it matters to you. Because she cares about you, she will want to do that, it will just be harder for her. And since your Earth has much more structure than her Fire, a kind act on your part would be to contact Sammy the day of your plans to remind her. For Sammy, that will feel like support, something she counts on from your Earth. And when you do get together, you will have the fun and laughter that you count on from Sammy. Blessings to you both!