We’ve talked a lot about friendship here on Simply. We’ve talked about friendships ending and how to make friends as an adult — but I think one essential part of this that we’ve missed is how to identify if you are being a bad friend. This one is important and I’ll tell you why.
As humans, we are programmed to shift blame. Some of us, more than others, will do what we can to take the responsibilities off of ourselves and onto the people around us. Now, you may in fact truly have a shitty friend in your midst – or – you could be the one who needs some work.
Here’s the hard truth.
You are probably a bad friend.
Wait, hear me out.
We have all been bad friends at one point or another. The truth is that you’re probably not a bad friend to *all* of your friends, but you have been to one (or more) in the past or actively. Hell, I’m a bad friend sometimes too. But here’s what we can do.
We can try to look introspectively, acknowledge our shortcomings without judgement or defensively, and we can try to be better. Being a bad friend, doesn’t make you a bad person. Not acknowledging that we all have faults, that’s what we want to avoid.
Okay, we’re all on the same page? Good. Let’s begin.
Signs that you are a bad friend
You can’t wait to share
Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where instead of actively listening to the person speaking, you are thinking about what you are going to say? Maybe you’re waiting for a gap in the dialogue so that you can chime in and say what you’ve rehearsed in your head. This is normal. In fact, it’s not a bad idea in a networking or professional conversation, where it’s not a good look is with your friends.
When your friends speak, are you truly listening to them? Are you empathizing or scrutinizing? Take a step back and evaluate if you are listening without judgement or without looking for an opportunity to intervene.
I get it. You’re busy. I know you don’t want me to say it, but I’ll say it anyways: we are all busy. Unfortunately for you, I’m of the camp that believes that you make time for the things you care about.
Maybe it’s time to truly evaluate if you really want to spend time with this friend. Do you feel stressed, anxious, or drained after seeing or talking to them? This could be a sign that it’s time to get some space from this friendship and it may not be serving you anymore.
No one likes a flake, so take a look at why you are always the one to back out and try to figure out if there’s a reason why.
You feel like you can’t trust your friends
Okay, so this one might be more about the friend than about you, but… it might be you. If you don’t feel like you can rely on the people closest to you, it could be a sign that you need to focus on your friendships. Are you opening yourself up to your friends? Do they feel comfortable enough to open up to you?
Being your truest self is one of the best parts of a healthy friendship. Knowing that your friend won’t judge you for eating cheese fries while being on a health kick, but instead motivating you to stay on track to meet your own goals is kinda the best part.
If you find yourself double and triple checking before you share with a friend, it could be a sign that you are projecting. You may not trust your friends because they may not be able to trust you. Something to think about.
You can’t keep secrets
The sacred bound of friendship is deep. This isn’t the same as “you do something stupid and I don’t hold you accountable” (looking at you bromance), instead it’s about your friends knowing that what you tell them is held in strict confidentiality. You won’t repeat when your friend was unsure about herself and her career or that she had cold feet before her wedding. [Obviously, not real examples].
Think about your friendships as a human diary. It’s a place where you can share your deepest, darkest emotions. You may say something in a moment of weakness or doubt something without warrant, but your diary won’t judge you. It’ll just listen. Unlike a diary, you should provide helpful feedback that has your friends’ best interest at heart. If you can’t be a diary, and you spill open for someone else to see – are you really a good friend?
Deep friendships are about building a relationship with someone. If you don’t feel like their thoughts and emotions are important enough not to share publicly, you may be a bad friend.
Related: Are You In a Toxic Friendship?
Final thoughts on Am I a Bad Friend?
As we get older, our friend circles are bound to get smaller. Time, responsibilities, distance, and simple growth are all viable reasons for why you may find your friendships getting smaller. These are not, however, a reason why your friendships shouldn’t be deeper.
Friendships are so important, especially adult ones. Sharing your whole self with someone that knows you, loves you, and will call you our on your shit are essential for being a successful person. Invest in your friendships the way you would want your friends to invest in you.