Separate your real friends from your frenemies.
Your friends are your support system, your partners-in-crime. They’ll laugh over stupid reality shows with you, protect you from creepsters at the bar, bring you soup when you’re sick and tell you the truth when you need to hear it. They’re like family, except you can control who they are. So exercise that right. If your friends don’t give you that warm and fuzzy feeling, maybe you aren’t surrounding yourself with the right people.
Everything is a competition. No matter what you say, your friend feels the need to one-up you. Mention that you had a bad day, and she’ll say, “Mine was even worse!” Tell a funny story and her response is, “Oh, but wait until you hear this!” She always has to have the more expensive shoes, the bigger diamond ring and the cuter boyfriend, but if you mention that you don’t care about those things, she’ll have an anecdote about how she cares even less. Some people are innately competitive, and that can be a positive thing, but there’s a big difference between showing off Scrabble skills and constantly belittling your accomplishments.
You’re only friends out of nostalgia. You lead totally different lives, you find very little to talk about when you’re together and you disagree on most of the big issues. But, you think, we’ve known each other forever! If you met today, you probably wouldn’t be friends at all, but you like being able to say that you’ve been BFFs for decades. On its own, this may not be a good reason to dump a friend, but it’s definitely a reason to downgrade her status in your life. You might want to focus your attention on friends that you can really click with instead.
They talk, but don’t listen. Everyone has experienced this at least once: sitting silent for thirty minutes or more while a clueless friend yaps on and on, never letting you get a word in edgewise. We all have our chatty moods, and sometimes, your friends really do just need you to sit there and listen while they vent. That’s cool, but when it happens on a daily basis, it can start to wear on your patience. If your friend asks how you’ve been doing and then immediately cuts you off with a story of her own, she’s probably got chronic self-absorption syndrome.
They ask for lots of favors, but never give back. Just like the friend who can’t shut up about herself, the flaky favor-asker seems to think her time is worth a lot more than yours. You’re the one who has to pick up the pizza, act as designated driver, help her move across town and pick her up from the airport. She calls you when her washing machine breaks or she needs to bake a cake for an office party, “because you’re better at this stuff than I am.” But when the tables are turned, your friend is AWOL. Don’t be a doormat.
They can’t keep secrets. You confided to a friend about something very personal, with the understanding that she wouldn’t tell anyone else. But she just can’t seem to keep things to herself, no matter how touchy the subject may be, and soon you’ve got mutual friends expressing their condolences, offering advice or just giving you knowing looks. Whatever her reason for gossiping, betraying your trust isn’t cool. You should be able to count on your friends not to broadcast your business.
In your time of need, they’re nowhere to be found. It happened – that big emergency that you hoped would never come up. This moment, whether it’s an accident, your house burning down, a death in the family or the breakdown of your relationship, is when you need the support of your friends the most. Instead of being there to help you get back on your feet, she’s giving you excuses about how busy she is. This might just be the ultimate friendship test.
When you talk to them about it, they’re not contrite. Okay, so you’ve decided you’re going to confront your friend directly about the issues that have been bothering you. You think, maybe she just doesn’t realize how she’s been acting, and she’ll stop. But instead of apologizing or saying she’ll try to do better, she offers up denials or rationalizes her behavior. She’s not willing to work on the friendship, so it must not mean much to her.
You have to psyche yourself up to see them. Maybe you avoid answering her calls because you have to be in a particular kind of mood to deal with her. Maybe you put off hanging out because you realize that every time you see her, you come home feeling like shit. Listen to yourself. These are not-so-subtle clues that this relationship isn’t doing anything for you.
You can’t just be yourself. When you’re around this particular person or group of friends, you feel like you have to do certain things or act a certain way to fit in. You might find yourself wearing clothes that you wouldn’t wear otherwise. You might even feel a need to self-censor, because you know they look down on some of your views or interests. Maybe they even bully you a little bit. You shouldn’t have to try this hard.
You don’t like who you are around them. If you’re trying so hard to make your friendships work that you’re changing who you are to please them, and finding yourself more than a little disgusted with your own behavior, stop it right now. You should never compromise who you are to please other people, especially if those people actually kind of suck. There are plenty of potential friends out there who will love you for exactly who you are.
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