It’s simple to blame your friends when you feel your friendships are lacking. However, it might be wise to check yourself in the mirror first. Sometimes the issue is with us, not with them.
That said, there are times when we all struggle, such as when we’re going through a job loss, a family crisis, or a mental health issue, and we don’t behave as admirably as we would like to under normal circumstances.
But when this unkind or harmful behaviour toward friends becomes a recurring pattern, it must be addressed. You run the risk of losing those connections if you don’t.
Not sure if your friendship game is strong enough? We consulted experts to share warning signs that you might not be a good friend and provide suggestions for improving your friendships.
1. You Always Manage To Steer The Conversation Back To Yourself
You always find a way to bring the conversation back to you when your friend starts to talk about their job promotion or the new person they’re dating.
“No conversation should be perfectly balanced in terms of who speaks more. Additionally, in some friendships, one person tends to talk more than the other, and that can be OK, according to psychologist Andrea Bonior, author of “Detox Your Thoughts, “said HuffPost.
“But it stings and destroys the sense of reciprocity that is so important in friendship if you consistently hijack it back to you when your friends try to confide or discuss something about their lives.”
How To Fix It: Improve your capacity for attentive listening. Bonior advised to practice maintaining eye contact and using open, encouraging body language when your friend is speaking. It demonstrates that you are listening and genuinely want to learn more from them.
Before you talk about yourself, consider whether you might be interfering with the story the other person is telling.
2. You Commit To Plans, Already Knowing You’re Going To Back Out
Understandably, events in life may cause plans to be changed or cancelled. However, it’s rude if you frequently say “yes” when you really mean “no”—for example, to accompany them on a wine-tasting excursion or help them move. Being truthful is preferable to cancel at the eleventh hour.
According to Bonior, “there’s a subset of people who are afraid of the discomfort of initially saying ‘no,’ so they say ‘yes’ to avoid that discomfort. “But in the end, it only leads to more disappointment. That is unfair to friends and gradually destroys trust.”
How To Fix It: Defeat the urge to reply right away. According to psychologist and friendship expert Irene S. Levine, it’s acceptable to think about it and get back to them later if you’re unsure if you can swing it.
And keep in mind that you don’t have to comply with all of a friend’s requests, Levine advised. “If you need to decline them, do it upfront rather than when they depend on you. Make only commitments you can keep.”
3. You’re Good At Making Friends, But Not Keeping Them
Levine said, “You are outgoing, friendly, and well-liked; you can make friends easily, but you can’t make the friendship last or go deeper. Naturally, not every relationship is meant to last, and that’s okay. However, there might be a reason if you’ve had a run of brief friendships that didn’t end on your terms.
How To Fix It: Take some time to reflect on why these bonds frequently fail or gradually fade away. Perhaps your former friend offered you some helpful criticism that could provide a hint.
Or is there someone else in your life who could offer some advice?
If this behaviour becomes a pattern and you cannot overcome it, Levine advised talking to a life coach or mental health professional who can give you the tools you need to maintain your friendships and assist you in figuring out what is going on.
4. You’re Never The One To Initiate Plans Or Check In First
It’s common in friendships for some people to be the planners and others to prefer to go with the flow. However, if the effort is completely lopsided—for example, if they are always the ones to call and invite you to events—this could lead to resentment.
How To Fix It: “Genuine friendships require mutual support. Your friends may interpret your passivity as a lack of interest in the friendship if one person always takes the initiative, “Levine declared.
Sharing your interests with your friends can strengthen your bonds with them. For example, you might ask them to watch a TV show with you simultaneously during the pandemic or invite them over for a barbecue in your backyard.
Basically, your friend needs a gentle reminder that you value the friendship just as much as they do, Levine continued.
5. You Constantly Lean On Your Friends For Emotional Support, But They Don’t Turn To You
Your closest friends will be there for you in difficult times to support you. However, you can’t keep requesting so much of your friends’ time, attention, and emotional energy without giving anything in return if you treat every hiccup or minor setback in your life like a crisis.
According to marriage and family therapist Amanda Baquero, balancing how much support you require and how much your friend can offer can be challenging.
The fact that you always seem to have a lot going on may make it difficult for your friend to reach out to you and discuss their problems.
How To Fix It: Make it a point to call your friends to check in on them and find out how they’re doing, advised Baquero, in order to restore harmony to the friendship. No hidden agendas; keep the conversation focused on them.
Also, try to include the good things when you want to talk about what’s going on with you, she advised. Reach out to other friends and family members as well, rather than relying solely on one person, “to make sure that you aren’t taking advantage of a giving friend,” Levine advised.
And don’t forget to express your gratitude to your friends when they come through for you and help them out in return.”If she’s extended herself, make it up to her by inviting her to dinner or finding a way to make her life easier,” Levine said. “Of course, also express your appreciation verbally.”
7. You Resent Your Friends’ Happiness And Success
As humans, it’s normal to get jealous occasionally — and those pangs can help us uncover things we want to change in our lives.
But when you begrudge a friend’s new job, house or relationship so much that it becomes impossible to celebrate their success, that’s another story. Maybe you find yourself competing with your friends or trying to one-up them. Maybe you’re secretly pleased when things don’t work out for them.
“A real friend would be happy for your achievements and good fortune. You want a friend to support your dreams and life goals,” marriage and family therapist Marni Feuerman previously told HuffPost.
How To Fix It: Don’t beat yourself up over your feelings — give yourself some grace. Instead of trying to suppress the jealousy and hope it disappears (it won’t), acknowledge it and listen to what it might be telling you.
And remember that just because it seems like a friend’s life is charmed doesn’t mean it’s actually perfect. They may be struggling in other ways.
If it feels appropriate, you might consider telling the friend how you’re feeling.
“Hearing that someone is envious of us can feel particularly awkward or uncomfortable, regardless of whether it’s something we have control over,” psychologist Miriam Kirmayer wrote in a blog post for Psychology Today.
“But saying something like: ‘I know I’ve been a little distant lately, and I wanted you to know that it’s because I’ve been struggling with…’ or ‘I want you to know that I’m really happy for you. It’s hard for me because…’ can be the starting point for a meaningful conversation that will ultimately strengthen your friendship.”