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Friendships are some of the most special relationships in life, yet many don’t realize that it can be challenging to recognize when a friendship is becoming unhealthy.
From being ignored and lied to, to feeling controlled or taken advantage of, there might not always be easy-to-spot signs that your relationship isn’t working out the way you hoped.
With an understanding of these red flags in a friendship, you’ll gain invaluable insight into recognizing if your friend has crossed the line.
Here are 15 friendship red flags to be aware of.
#1. Your Friend Only Cares About Themself
Ever had a friend who only seemed to care about themselves? You know, the kind of person who only talks about their own problems and never seems interested in yours?
It’s frustrating, to say the least. It’s like you’re a supporting character in their life story rather than an actual friend.
As one person says, “They don’t ask about you, they just turn every conversation about themselves. When you talk about exams, they don’t ask you how you did they just talk about themselves, when you talk about not sleeping well they talk about how they didn’t sleep, when you tell them you broke up with your significant other they talk about their significant other.”
Everyone has different levels of attachment to their friends, but it becomes a red flag when it crosses the line into possessiveness.
Possessiveness is unhealthy in any relationship, and friendships are no exception. A possessive friend may try to control who you hang out with, where you go, and even what you wear.
They may become jealous or suspicious of other people in your life and may even try to isolate you from other friends or family.
This behavior can be a warning sign of deeper issues and may indicate that the friend is insecure or doesn’t trust you.
Ultimately, possessiveness in a friendship can damage your self-esteem and limit your personal growth, so it’s essential to recognize and address it as soon as possible.
#3. Can’t Be Real With Them
Have you ever found yourself walking on eggshells in a friendship? It might initially seem ordinary, like you’re just being considerate of your friend’s feelings.
But the truth is, constantly feeling like you have to tip-toe around them or avoid certain topics can be a major red flag.
A true friend should make you feel comfortable enough to be yourself without fearing judgment or upsetting them.
If you find yourself constantly censoring your words or actions around a friend, it might be time to reevaluate the dynamic of your friendship. Life is too short to spend time with people who make you feel small.
#4. Excessive Gossip
While some gossip here and there can be harmless and entertaining, constantly providing unnecessary and often negative information about others can indicate underlying issues within the friendship.
It’s important to remember that if your friend is willing to talk about others behind their backs, they might do the same thing to you.
Also, spreading rumors and talking behind people’s backs can hurt feelings and damage relationships.
So, if you notice excessive gossip in your friendship, it’s important to address it and find healthier ways to connect with your friend. Or consider ending the friendship.
When you’re in a friendship, you expect to be there for each other – to listen to their troubles and offer support. But if a friend is dismissive, it’s a definite red flag.
Being dismissive means they’re not taking your problems seriously or valuing your feelings. It can make you feel unimportant.
A dismissive friend may also be unwilling to help you when needed.
It’s important to have people in your life who are supportive and uplifting, so if you notice dismissive behavior in a friend, it may be time to have a conversation and assess the friendship’s future.
One person said, “Being dismissive of all your interests and achievements. Meanwhile, everything they do, no matter how mundane, is amazing.”
Have you ever hung out with someone who always one-upped you in conversation? You mention a fun trip you took, and suddenly they have been to every country on the planet.
You mention a project you’re proud of, and they tell you about the time they accomplished something even more incredible. It can be draining and frustrating to feel like you’re being outdone constantly.
Worse yet, it can signify a deeper issue in the friendship. When someone constantly tries to outdo you, it could be a sign that they’re insecure and must continually prove themselves.
It’s important to have friends who support and lift you, not tear you down or make you feel inferior. Keep an eye out for this person, and don’t be afraid to distance yourself from toxic relationships.
#7. Always On Their Phone
In today’s digital age, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to have their phones in their hands constantly. While being connected to technology can often be a positive thing, there are times when it causes issues in friendships.
When someone is always on their phone while spending time with a friend, it gives the impression that they’re not fully present or engaged in the conversation.
When you’re constantly checking social media or responding to text messages instead of interacting with your friend, it can feel like you’re not valuing their time or the effort they put into spending time with you.
One person sums it up perfectly with “having their phone in their face the whole time. If they do that, they don’t want a friend. They want company. It’s not the same.”
#8. Can’t Apologize
Apologies can be challenging, especially when it comes to friendships. But what happens when someone cannot apologize, even when they did something wrong?
It shows that the person is unwilling to take responsibility for their actions and is more concerned with saving face than repairing the relationship.
Without the ability to apologize, there can be no genuine trust in the friendship, which can slowly wither away.
At the end of the day, a sincere apology can go a long way in healing any relationship, and someone who can’t offer one may not be worth keeping around.
#9. Big Egos
Having a confident friend is great. You want to surround yourself with people who believe in themselves and their abilities. However, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.
When someone’s ego takes center stage in a friendship, it can lead to a power struggle where one friend always wants to be in control or the center of attention.
This can make the other friend feel underappreciated and undervalued. A big ego can also make it difficult to communicate openly and honestly because that person may be too busy trying to prove their worth.
Friendships should be about mutual respect and equal value. If someone’s ego is standing in the way of that, then it’s something worth addressing.
One person shared this eye-opening conversation with a friend. “It was National Best Friend Day or some similar holiday. I asked if she’d be posting a picture of us too. She said, ‘No, I have a lot of best friends. But I’m your main best friend, so you should post a picture of us.’
#10. Good Vibes Only
Regarding friendships, good vibes are great, but they shouldn’t be the only requirement. Sure, we all want positive energy and a fun time with our buddies, but if that’s all you’re seeking, you might be missing some key warning signs.
If someone is only interested in good vibes and doesn’t want to tackle tough conversations or support you through difficult times, that’s a red flag.
A friendship shouldn’t be all rainbows and unicorns. It should include deeper connections, trust, honesty, and a willingness to put in effort even when things get rough.
One person commented, “My best friend adopted this attitude and from then on, whenever I would come to her for support or advice on an issue I was having, she’d cut me off and say, ‘Ah ah ah! Good vibes only, remember?’ Because I was bringing her down.”
#11. Advice Ignorers
Friendships are an amazing part of life. They provide us with support, laughter, and sometimes even tough love.
But what happens when you give your friend advice they don’t want to hear? They ignore your suggestions and go on with life as they see fit.
However, ignoring advice from a friend could be a sign of a major issue. It could mean they don’t value your opinion or may not trust you.
One person said, “friends who constantly call you for advice but, never take it and continue to involve you in their drama. If you’re not going to make moves to improve your situation stop asking me for help.”
#12. Conditional Friendship
When you have friends who only stick around if you have something to offer, they’re not really your friends.
They may be friendly with you when you have money, connections, or something else to offer, but when the tough times hit, they disappear.
True friends stick around through thick and thin. They don’t care how much you have to offer or what you can do for them. If someone only wants to hang out with you when they can get something out of you, it’s time to reevaluate the friendship.
You deserve friends who will be there for you no matter what, not just when it’s convenient for them.
#13. Reliving The Past
Having friends from our childhood is great. You share a long bond and have created many lasting memories.
But if you and your long-time friend only relive the past, like talking about memories, and never talk about current events, this could be a sign it’s time to move on.
You may have outgrown the friendship if you cannot connect with what is happening in your life. This doesn’t mean you have to end it. You can still be friendly to them when you see them, but you shouldn’t be spending the majority of your time with them.
#14. Passive Aggressive
We all have that one friend who never seems to say what they really mean, right? They’re always making snide comments or giving backhanded compliments.
While it might seem harmless at first, passive aggressiveness in a friendship is not something you should put up with.
Not only is it immature, but it can also damage the relationship in the long run.
When someone constantly sends mixed signals, knowing where you stand with them can be challenging. Plus, it’s exhausting trying to dissect their words and figure out what they really mean.
#15. Last Minute Cancels
Regarding maintaining a friendship, reliability and trust are two key elements that can make or break the bond.
So, if you have a friend who has a habit of canceling plans last minute regularly, not only is it annoying, but a sign that you need new friends.
Not only does this behavior show that they don’t respect your time, but it can also lead to frustration and disappointment.
It’s important to communicate with your friend about how their actions affect you and the friendship.
One person commented, “When they cancel plans, they always do it last-minute. Or just not show up. I had a friend who would ignore my messages asking where they were and they would always message three days later that they were in the hospital or something. Every time. Not just once or twice.”
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Don Dulin is the founder and main author on Unfinished Success, a personal development website whose goal is to help you be the best you. By making small changes everyday to how you live life, you can live your best life. You can learn more about him here.