This summer, it became really apparent to me that many people (no matter what age they are) struggle with determining what good and bad friendships look like. Sometimes, it's easier to determine when something is bad instead of good, so that's the direction I'm going with in this article --- especially since good friendships come in all shapes and sizes, but bad friendships have a lot of similar red flags.
Disclaimer: I've been reflecting on this a lot because I have some negative habits with friendship I need to improve on myself... and the fact I just got out of some bad friendships. I never want to repeat experiences I can easily avoid again. While researching, I thought to myself "Hey, I bet other people need this information, too." So here we are, both learning about this topic together.
There are some major and minor ways that everyone is a good and bad friend to others (or sister, daughter, peer, coworker, etc.). As I was doing research on what a good friend is and isn't, I came across some red flags I want you to know about. Why?
Because age doesn't limit the toxic habits people can bring into relationships.
Below are my 3 warning signs to indicate you might be in a bad friendship:
Bad friends communicate poorly
Below is a list of the main ways a bad friend communicates poorly:
~ they only reach out to you when _______________ (fill in the blank). Usually, I can spot a bad friend (or a wishy-washy friend) if they only reach out to me when they are in trouble or want my opinion about something negative going on in their life.
~ they only want to talk about themselves. They never really ask good follow up questions about your life, if they even ask about it at all. Good friends care about what's going on in each other's lives, so when someone doesn't care to hear about me, well, I get the idea maybe I shouldn't be investing so much of my time in them.
~ they want to win the arguments, not reach a solution together. And usually, this type of bad friend has a bad attitude during the argument, too.
Bad friends aren't trustworthy
Sometimes, people are habitual liars. It's not like those lies that are more acceptable, like they wanted to surprise you with a gift so they didn't tell you about it - or they were going through a tough time that only family members should know about.
No, it's more like the stuff I'm going to talk about below. If you're friend (OR YOU) are doing this right now, then take a hard look at that friendship and see if it is worth holding on to.
People who aren't trustworthy do the following things:
~ they don't tell you the truth. For example, they won't tell you that they really don't like the way you've been more negative since you started dating that new person from work. Another example could be is they lie to you all the time. You know that she wasn't at the hospital visiting Grandma last Friday because her Snapchat story proves she was with other friends at the mall.
~ they don't keep secrets. Basically, is your friend a gossip? Likes to tell other people's secrets, usually starting off with the statement, "I know I shouldn't say this, but..."? If this person doesn't keep a secret for others, what guarantee is there that they can keep YOUR secrets? The answer is they probably can't, which is a red flag.
You should feel secure in your friendship to share the important stuff (to be vulnerable) without the fear that other people will know you liked your sixth grade math teacher.
~ they aren't there for you when the going gets tough. Good friends support you through thick and thin as much as they can from a friendship standpoint. If this friend is never there for you when you need a good hug after a horrible test, a cup of coffee pick me up after you put your cat to sleep, or to encourage you that work won't always be so terrible, then they are just a fair-weather friend. Beware of fair-weather friends.
Bad friends don't lift you up
I'm not talking about lifts on a cheerleading squad or for swing-dancing. I'm talking about the lifting up of the soul to happiness, peace, joy, fortitude, strength, goodwill, and more. Bad friends take you away from these objectives in so many ways, but I'll name a few.
Bad friends do the following things to tear you down:
~ they are jealous of your achievements. It's kind of obvious, too. Usually, you can read their unhappiness by their facial expressions, but some bad friends let you know verbally about it too... over and over again.
A warning sign that you deal with a friend like this is when you figure out to never tell your friend the good things happening to you because you know you'll be met with a negative reaction.
~ they want to change and control you. I know that sounds a little harsh. But sometimes, it can be as simple as a person trying to convince you that your favorite music artist is actually trash-city. A good friend wouldn't try to convince you of that - they would just accept your taste in music and politely ask if its okay that you never force him/her to listen to that music on your road trips.
This would be something you would agree to because that's a reasonable request the other person made (and they asked nicely). But some more serious ways a person might want to change and control you is by being angry when you need your alone time or time with other friends.
~ they are critical of everything you do. It can range from playfully annoying to downright degrading, which isn't healthy for the psyche.
Soooooo... what do I do if I have a bad friend? If *I* am the bad friend?
I don't know. It all depends on the situation. Some friendships are able to change if both people work hard to be more open and loving with each other. But some friendships need to end. You'll have to dig down to the roots of the problem and figure out what you think is best to fix it.
I hope this information was useful! Most of it was taken from this amazing source (about good vs. toxic friends), and then this amazing source #2. I also find the book of Sirach has some helpful verses on friendship. Good luck!