The word itself isn't fickle but the way people express it, and the reasons they do, are very fickle.
A certain chain of events unfolded this week whose end I could clearly see because I'm afraid I knew the players all too well.
Some would call me a very hard judge, but I ask them to consider this: If someone or a group claims to have a certain set of beliefs, shouldn't you take them at their word, at least till they prove differently? That's the way I look at it, and actions with me always speak louder than words.
I must say the events in my life since roughly June, especially in virtual space, have caused me to make decisions and draw lines that occasionally make other people uncomfortable. Nothing unreasonable, mind you; I am far less likely to let someone transgress a boundary now than I did in the past. Certain parties would say I am less generous but I say I have grown smarter.
You see, generous souls like me can't help but attract those who see a sitting duck and seek to take advantage to their own ends. The smart ones start out by leading you to believe that they are going the same direction you are, so why not combine forces. If they have money, they will invest. They will be the most polite and apparently considerate individual that you've met to date. Your friends and family will also think they are great people, especially if they are aiding shared goals.
Sometimes they are genuine and do want to work with you to reach a goal and only time will tell you if they are. At the same time, it's smart to be cautious, at least till you get to know them and their motivations better.
There are people who go through life basing friendships and alliances solely on what that person or entity can give them, neglecting to remember that such relationships are a two-way street. Such an attitude makes a person a predator, a user, whose sense of entitlement is the central core of their relationships with others. Unfortunately, in this day and age, our very culture has bred way too many people of that stripe. The moment you stop giving that person what they want, they will turn their back on you - without discussion, without any desire to work out the impasse in the relationship. You see them for who they really are, and as much as it hurts, you're better off without them.
Truly healthy friendships and alliances are based not just on what is beneficial to you, but what you can offer to that person or entity. Alliances based on mutual respect and consideration are those that will last - and it takes both parties to show the respect and consideration. Are you seeking a relationship because you truly like and respect the person and what they stand for, or are you looking for people who can fill certain holes in your needs and/or life? Are you even aware of what drives you to seek out certain people?
Yes, usually it's a shared interest that brings people together, and that's especially true if a person is seeking out group membership. The "test of the mettle" comes in when situations arise that require the person to give of themselves and/or demonstrate what they believe loyalty means. If they are the type to say "no one lets me do what I want" then chances are excellent they are seeking to fulfill their own needs only, without being asked to give in a reasonable manner. Such relationships turn toxic in time and the person or people who are being asked to tolerate being abused for self-gain must decide how valuable that relationship really is. No one deserves to be abused, period.
The true test of friendship and loyalty comes in when you can't give anything at all. Does the other person hang around, or go looking for greener pastures? Do they stay and lend a hand till you get on your feet? Do they recognize and accept that everyone goes through scrapes from time to time but it doesnt mean they've ceased being a good friend? Is their loyalty fickle and subject to change should a true predator come along and offer them something which seems too good to be true (and often is)?
Two friends and I recently left a group which proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the concept of "family" changes when there are difficulties to be faced. My first thought is - why accept me as a part of your family if my voice is not heard? Why "play" at acceptance if it's not really there? Why say you respect my feelings and beliefs if your behavior forces me to the fringes?
I guess we were nothing more than "numbers" and when push came to shove and a predator inserted himself into the situation, the predator was given far more kindness and consideration than those who chose to swear their loyalty out of a sense of shared values. It's shared values and mutual consideration that serve as the glue which binds a group together. If the leadership of that group says one thing and truly feels another, that comes to light in a fairly short time. I suspected the discord between words and actual feelings, and yes, time showed that I was right.
All it took was a snake in the grass to separate those who really believe in family from those who just say it because "it's expected" or "it's the nice thing to do."