Why a friend to all is a friend to none

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Kevin Mangelschots

We all know someone who plays both sides. Someone who’s trying to be friends with everyone they meet, even when it seems disingenuous.

But there’s a reason why trying to be friends with everyone seems so insincere. It’s because a friend to all is a friend to none.

People have unique, and largely varying personalities. Naturally, this means that we will like some people, while we will dislike other folks because our values and interests don’t match with one another.

Let me explain why a friend to everyone is a friend to no one.

A group of friends sitting together on a hill.

Everyone is different

Since people have different personalities, we are all drawn to those individuals who possess certain traits we deem attractive while we find others who display certain traits we don’t want repulsive, or at the very least dislike.

This means that we can’t be friends with everyone we meet. And if we try to be friends with everyone we meet, then that means we’re being insincere and are basically lying to some of them. Remember that a person playing both sides is an enemy too. Because a friend to everyone is a friend to no one.

We all have our individual values that we find important. We rank things in importance based upon the value judgments we make about everything that’s going on in our lives.

Logically, this can only mean that people who exhibit certain traits and values that don’t align with ours won’t vibe with ourselves. They obviously won’t be our friends.

That’s not bad or anything to be ashamed of, either. Because it doesn’t mean that we hate those people. Just that we don’t have the desire to be friends with them.

Not enough time to provide quality

As Aristotle and Taylor Swift have said, a friend to all, is a friend to none. Because if you have too many friends, then the quality of all of your friendships will suffer.

You won’t be able to supply the required love, care, and attention that are all necessary in order to create and sustain long-lasting good friendships.

We don’t love everyone equally

Love and kisses with a symbolic drawing of a heart with three crosses drawn in chalk on a red background with copy space for your Valentine greeting.

Ultimately, we don’t truly love everyone equally if we’re being honest with ourselves.

We humans constantly make value judgments about everyone, and everything we do to figure out what’s most important to us, and consequently, what’s worth pursuing.

Unsurprisingly, we do the same with our friends, trying to determine who’s worthy of our attention, and love. I would say that it’s only fitting, because those who care the most for us, are the most worthy of getting our valuable love and time in return.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What does, “a friend to all is a friend to none” mean?

A friend to all is a friend to none means that if someone is a friend to everyone they know, then that means they aren’t actually anyone’s friend, since it’s impossible to like everyone. That’s because everyone’s personality is unique and so wildly different.

When you’re true and honest to yourself and what you stand for, then you will like some people, and dislike some people. Just as some people are going to like you for who you are, and some people will dislike you for whom you truly are.

People are wise to remember that a person playing both sides is an enemy too.

What is a friend to everybody?

Illustration of a man scratching their head while holding a yellow question mark.

A friend to everybody is a friend to no one, since it’s impossible to like everyone we meet.

Everyone has their own unique personality, and this means that we will enjoy the company of some, while we will dislike the fellowship of others.

Thus, being friends with everyone conveys that we’re being disingenuous, and lying to others.

A friend to all is a friend to none origin

Let me explain who said a friend to all is a friend to none the first time. Or at least who we suspect it to be based on history.

The quote, “a friend to all is a friend to none” possibly first originated and was popularized by the famous philosopher Aristotle.

However, it is possible that it was said before him, but just wasn’t written, or passed down to the later generations.

 
Aristotle, but also Taylor Swift, have uttered said phrase. What they mean by that is that the more friends you have, the less quality you will be able to provide to them.
 
You won’t have the time nor energy to give the necessary attention, care, and love to all of your friends.
 
It also conveys that we can only truly love and care for a select group of people who give us the most love and happiness, and that we should respond in kind. Seeing that it is just that we return the favor to folks who love us the way we are.
 

Where does Aristotle say a friend to all is a friend to none?

Aristotle says a friend to all is a friend to none in his ninth book, called the Nicomachean Ethics.

In chapter 10, pages 1170-1171, he studies and examines the existence and boundaries of friendship.

A friend to all is a friend to none example

Image of the word “example” being written with a blue marker by someone's hand.

Let me give you an example why a friend to all is a friend to none.

Let’s say you have a friend who’s constantly trying to be friends with everyone they meet, regardless if they vibe and align with his values and ethics.

To make things more clear, let’s say that person tries to make friends with kind people who are generous, but also with rude people who bully others all the while being extremely selfish, and only looking out for themselves.

This means that our friend in question is being dishonest to himself, but also to others, since he’s basically lying. It’s impossible to be friends with everyone out there because each individual is so unique, and all of us have their own specific personality.

So now the question becomes, how can you fully trust someone who can’t even be true to themselves? The answer? You can’t. Or better, you shouldn’t.

A friend to all is a friend to none synonym

A friend to everyone is a friend to none is a different way of saying that a friend to all is a friend to none, or that a friend of everybody is a friend of nobody.
 
While the wording might be slightly different, the meaning remains exactly the same.
 
Thus, both sentences can be used interchangeably.
 

Closely related synonyms are:

  • If you’re a friend to everybody, you’re an enemy to yourself
  • A man that is a friend to everyone is an enemy to himself

What does, “if you’re a friend of everybody, you’re an enemy to yourself” mean?

A person holding a question mark in front of their face.

A man that is a friend to everyone is an enemy to himself, means that it’s not possible to be friends with everyone out there since we all got our own individual personality. Thus, it’s impossible that each character is compatible with ours.

If we do decide to be friends with everyone, then you’re an enemy to yourself since you’re dishonest, lying, and torturing yourself by trying to be someone you’re not. And trying to pose as someone/something you’re not will inevitably cause you great psychological pain.

That’s why a man that is a friend to everyone is an enemy to himself first and foremost, and a friend to none second.

Conclusion

Be weary of someone who’s trying to be friends with everyone they meet, since a friend to all is a friend to none.

Not just that, but a person playing both sides is an enemy too. It means they’re being disingenuous, which signifies they’re liars and deceitful individuals. This imparts that they can’t be trusted, and it’s even possible that they’re trying to manipulate you for their own personal gain.

Call to action

Learn to stay true to yourself. Make sure that your actions align with your words. Always practice what you preach yourself to gain the respect of others.

Don’t try to be friends with everyone you meet since that’s literally impossible, and not desirable either since we all got varying personalities and values.

If you stay true to yourself, and what you stand for, then the right people will come, while the wrong people will walk out of your life. Of course, always attempt to improve yourself, since nobody is perfect.