She tells you you’d look cuter if you lost a few pounds. She lets it slip to your boyfriend that you thought a guy on the baseball team is cute, even though she totally knows you’d never act on it. She “borrows” your stuff without asking and blows off plans with you saying she’s sick, but then you see her tagged in pics on FB from the same day. Sounds like you’ve got yourself a pretty bad friend.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell when a pal is a bad friend, because it usually happens pretty gradually–or because they make you think you’re overreacting to things that they do. But thankfully, a new report from Psychology Today actually helps us narrow down what makes someone a bad friend. Chances are a lot of it is the same stuff that already made you feel crappy to begin with, but at least knowing for sure that your feelings are justified may help you make a decision on whether or not to keep this particular pal around.
If your pal takes more than they give consistently, it’s not a good sign. If you’re always the one asking to hang out and they blow you off, if they only invite you places if they need a ride, or if they come to you for advice all the time and can’t be bothered to listen when you have a problem, they may be a bad friend. Obviously not every friendship is in perfect balance 100 percent of the time, but if they’re constantly taking advantage of you and making you feel used, then your pal is a bad friend–and you don’t need ‘em!
Words hurt. Say your pal has a habit of telling people that you suck at math or that she’s tall, thin, blonde, and gets hit on all the time–and OMG how funny that you and her are such opposites!–then she’s being a bad friend. Sometimes we all say things we don’t necessarily mean or that just come out the wrong way and sound meaner than we intend them to–and that’s okay once in a while. But if the girl does it constantly and you know it’s not accidental, then she’s a bad friend, period. Your friends are supposed to lift you up and make you feel awesome, not tear you down.
If they’re not saying mean stuff to you, but they’re still telling people your business, that’s another tell tale sign of a poor pal. One of the pillars of a strong friendship is trust. If someone spills your secrets, can you trust them? Of course not. It’s one thing if she slips once or twice, but if she makes a habit of putting everything you tell her in confidence on blast, it’s not a good sign. Similarly, if your pal gives you crappy advice and doesn’t seem to want you to be responsible, then that’s no bueno either. If she encourages you to do things you’re not comfortable with, whether it’s drinking, smoking, rounding third with a guy you’re not too familiar with, or even just staying out past your curfew, she can’t be trusted to look out for your well-being, even if she does keep your secrets. A bad friend will enable you to make bad decisions.
Another scenario where it may not be so obvious that your pal–or you–may be a bad friend? If one of you is romantically interested in the other, but it’s not requited. It becomes kind of awkward for everyone involved. If the guy is into you and you don’t feel the same, it can make you question his motives for palling around with you, and he may feel like you’re leading him on (or vice versa). If it’s an ex and one of you wants to get back together, same idea. It’s just a generally messy sitch to find yourself in. If you genuinely want to be platonic pals with someone when there is or was a romantic interest involved, your best bet would be to cool your jets and back off for a bit out of respect for one another until you both have completely moved on. Sometimes the only way not to be a bad friend is just not to be a friend at all.
Phew! So you’ve got a bad friend. Now what? Find out how to break up with a bad friend with the least amount of drama possible–and go out and make new, better pals!
Have you ever been accused of being a bad friend? Have you ever had a bad friend? How’d you deal? Tell us in the comments!