Friendship is a funny thing. Many of us stay pals with people that we know from childhood, despite our lives going in opposite directions, and making friends gets harder as we get older, meaning we often end up in friendships that aren’t especially healthy or supportive. So how do we spot the signs of a bad buddy? Reddit users have been sharing some of the biggest red flags when it comes to toxic or one-sided friendships.
Selfishness and self-involvement are pretty damning traits, according to plenty of commenters: “When they only talk about themselves and don’t ask or take any interest in anything about you,” says one, with another adding: “When they only ask you for things but never offer anything in return. They’re just using you.”
Similar but not exactly the same is a need to be the center of attention. According to one commenter, a bad friend is someone who is “dismissive of all your interests and achievements. Meanwhile everything they do, no matter how mundane, is amazing.” This usually means they’re not going to be the kind of person you can count on in a crunch, as this reply points out: “The flip side of the same coin. Being dismissive of all your problems or struggles. Meanwhile everything that happens to them, no matter how mundane, is a tragedy.”
Sometimes the red flag isn’t what they do or say, but your reaction. “Continually feeling like you want to say something but should hold your tongue” is a sign that your friendship is getting strained. If you feel like someone is making questionable choices or acting poorly, and you refrain from intervening, does that mean you know they’ll react negatively or get defensive? As in any kind of relationship, communication is key. If you can’t express your valid concerns for fear of reprisal, that’s not a great friendship.
Borrowing money, or more specifically, neglecting to pay that money back, is another red flag. One commenter recalls how their old D&D group used to always let them pay for everything, and promised to pay them back, but never did: “I did not care about the money, and I still don’t care about it. I’m just perplexed that they kept promising me for years that they’d repay me and never did. I’d understand if they accepted me saying ‘Nah, it’s fine’, and I’d also understand if instead they decided to repay me at some point. They went for a weird halfway between the two.”
Being able to read a room is important, too; a friend’s conduct among your other friends says a lot about the respect they have (or don’t have) for you. “There’s a fine line between busting chops and actual mean-spirited bullying,” reads one comment. “I love a good friendly ribbing among friends, but I fucking hate when someone is clearly looking to lift themselves up/’prove their social standing’ by putting one of the friends in the group down. So toxic and insecure. If anyone ever does this to you, pull them aside at some point afterward and talk to them one on one about it. Tell them it really bothered you and not to do it again. If they do it again after that, there’s no hope of it ever changing. Avoid as much as you can.”
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