Some friendships last and some don’t. And sometimes a friend literally becomes a family member. But there is a saying that goes something like there are three friends in life. Friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime. And I think that holds true.
Just like relationship red flags, friendship red flags can be subjective. So here are some clues that will help you determine where your unhealthy friendships might be heading.
The way you feel after spending time with them
I have one friend who I have been friends with for 10+ years. But I often find that after spending time with her I just don’t feel so good about myself and my life.
I feel like I’m doing something wrong.
I don’t spend enough time cleaning my house.
I don’t work as many paid hours.
My kid doesn’t have enough toys.
I don’t wear enough make-up.
The list goes on.
But this is all on me, not a reflection of her at all. This is just how I feel after our interactions. I guess you could call it a bit of an unhealthy competition. So because of how I feel, I try to spend less one on one time with her.
So if you feel a bit less than after spending some time with a specific friend, think about why that might be. Consider taking some time away from them and see if that makes a difference next time you catch up.
They constantly lie
A little white lie every now and then can be accepted but when it comes to constant lies, that’s a big red flag. There is any number of reasons why people feel the need to lie but being on the receiving end of constant lies is not a nice feeling.
Lying becomes a problem as it breaks the bond of trust. And it’s hard to have a close relationship without trust.
This can be one of the more common red flags and may make you consider getting out of toxic relationships.
Your friendship is one-sided
We’re all ok to help out a friend in need. But when the friendship starts to become one-sided because you are putting in all of the effort it can be a little disconcerting.
You might be the first they call on a hot day because you have a pool.
Sometimes you’re giving out favours like there’s a shortage.
Other times you’ve got your hand in your pocket to loan them some money.
And sometimes you’ve poured all of your energy into them to help them with their mental health or addiction struggles.
It might also be a one-sided friendship if you are always trying to make plans but they can never agree to anything or they are always busy. Moreso, when they are seen making time for other types of friends. A real friend will make the time to meet with you to catch up.
RELATED: Signs of a Toxic Friendship
They regularly let you down
Just like being lied to, being let down creates a lack of trust in an otherwise healthy relationship.
You make plans but they repeatedly bail at the last minute. And on a regular basis.
They offer to be the designated driver but something always comes up and they can’t drive anymore.
Or maybe they just stop replying to your texts and don’t call you back.
Sure, being let down happens. But when it happens continuously it can be quite taxing, taking a toll on your emotional health. And maybe this friendship has run its course.
They gossip about other people
Everyone likes to hear some juicy gossip on the occasion. But when it’s happening more often than not, that could be a major red flag. If they are talking badly about other people in front of you, it’s quite likely that they are also talking about you in front of others.
It might be possible to steer the conversation in different directions. But if you notice they keep leading it back towards talking about others, it can be a good idea to ask them to stop sharing gossip with you. After a few times, they should stop trying to gossip with you. While it won’t stop them from gossiping with others, it will at least stop the toxic person from gossiping with you.
They have ulterior motives
Sometimes you end up having some friends with benefits – but not in a sexual way. As I mentioned before, some people have a friend with a pool. I’d call that friend with benefits.
Sometimes people have friends because they are wealthy. Their association allows them to experience things they can’t afford. Or provide them with encounters that they would not usually have access to.
Sometimes you might have a friend that is only friends with you because of the connections you have that can help within their life and business.
Have you ever had a colleague that became a friend because you lived near each other? Carpooling helped you both cut down on some expenses. But your work friend keeps asking you to drop them off at their partner’s house, which is 20 minutes in the other direction.
Or maybe you’re popular. If you are popular within a certain friend group there are sure to be people that want to get in with that crowd too.
They get a partner and forget about you
This is a common thing in high school but still occurs in adulthood too. Your best friend gets into new romantic relationships and starts spending a lot of time with them.
You’re left feeling lonely and not knowing what to do with yourself. But you know they play, this has happened before. It takes a little while for the honeymoon period to wear off and you are back to being besties, with the occasional third wheel, in no time.
Your friend isn’t going places
Just like upgrading your life, sometimes you need to upgrade your friends. In some cases, your friends don’t seem to be making any improvements in their life.
They may still live with their parents.
They show no signs of personal growth in the time you’ve known them.
Maybe they still only work part-time.
They may have dropped out of every course they have ever attempted.
They might change jobs and careers every year or two.
It can be helpful to ask important questions about these sometimes difficult subjects.
And it’s ok to start putting some distance between yourself and the friends that don’t seem to be going anywhere.
RELATED: How to cultivate good friendships
And at the same time if toxic behavior doesn’t bother you there is no reason to make any changes. Just sometimes in life, it’s in our best interests to surround ourselves with better people.
It can be hard to find a true friend and even harder to find one that you’d consider to be a part of your support system. But by knowing some of the biggest red flags, you can steer clear of bad friends. And find the type of relationship that results in green flags.