(Source: Dollar Photo Club)

(Source: Dollar Photo Club)

Ever heard the term “ride or die”?

If you’re not familiar with it, ride or die is a level of friendship where a person is committed to having your back and is with you through thick and thin. They are the ones who still love you at your worst and cheer you on at your best. These friends also have no problem letting you know when you have something stuck in your teeth.

I like Oprah’s definition: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

My ride or die person is my wife, Sarah. And something happened recently that confirmed just how important having her around is.

As part of my position with I Am Second, I get to travel across the U.S., speaking to teens and inspiring them towards what it means to “live second.” While I love what I do, there was one event that made me want to climb into my suitcase and hide.

While I love what I do, there was one event that made me want to climb into my suitcase and hide.

On this one particular night, Sarah was at home and I was out of town speaking to a large crowd. While I was on stage, there were about four or five teenage girls sitting on the front row…smiling. Not in a friendly way, but in a way that looked like someone had just told them the funniest joke ever but were told not to laugh.

As each moment passed, I got more self-conscious. As I finished my talk, I stepped backstage and discovered what was so hilarious. Somehow, without me knowing it, I had spent the previous 40 minutes onstage with my zipper completely down. Like the kind of down where people five rows back were probably thinking, “Interesting, he still wears Spider Man.”

There were two things I learned:

  1. My need to invest in button-fly jeans.
  2. A new-found appreciation for the ride or die people in my life.

I share this because I couldn’t help but wonder why the dozen or so people I interacted with before I went up to speak didn’t say anything.

In short, we all need someone in our lives willing to tell us when our zippers are down.

Maybe up ’til now, you thought all friends were created equal. They’re not. Maybe you’re curious what makes a true ride or die friend. Here’s some simple things to look for.

We all need someone in our lives willing to tell us when our zippers are down.

A ride or die relationship starts with mutual trust. True friendship is reciprocal and built on trust. It’s a two-way street. Solomon, the world’s wisest man explains, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer…” A ride or die friendship is about having each other’s backs even when it isn’t the most popular decision to make. It’s the kind of trust that says, “After the smoke clears and others walk away, I’ll still be here.”

A ride or die relationship depends on the ability to share truth freely. No one enjoys being told their zipper is down, but we’re thankful to know it. It’s no fun hearing about the blind spots in our lives, but in order for us to grow, we need someone in our lives that is willing to point out the “less attractive” things about us. Not only does that help us avoid embarrassment, but it also makes us better.

A Ride or Die relationship’s goal is about inspiring one other to greatness not just “goodness.” Henry Ford said, “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” A ride or die friend sees greatness in us even when we can’t. So, while it’s important to have someone asking us the hard questions to keep us straight, we also need a person to give equal attention to challenging us to be the best we can be. It’s of equal value to not only have someone helping us stay “good,” but someone who will push us to be great.

Ride or die friends can be scarce. Most of us are blessed if we have just one. If you have one, invest in that friendship and protect it. Maybe you’re reading this and wondering how a relationship like this can be found. I’ve learned that one of the best ways to find a ride or die friend is to learn how to be one to others first.

In other words, live second.

David Martin is the Youth and Culture Strategist for I Am Second. You can find him on social media @realDavidMartin

Want more? Watch Doug Bender’s story and his struggle to find a ride or die friendship.