True friendships with staying power are typically the ones where both parties get something out of the relationship. The problem is, a lot of people don’t know how to be a good friend. I don’t believe people are inherently mean but rather have learned poor lessons in their pasts about how to be a good friend. Relationship trauma can also have a negative impact on whether a person feels it’s safe to be close to others which can show itself in all sorts of unhelpful friendship behavior such as meanness, boundary violations and energy draining. That being said, you have a right to surround yourself with people who don’t hurt you (whether intentionally or not).
Many people struggle with clarity around who is a good friend to them – and who is not. This is especially true with long term friendships where you may feel obligated or more accepting of bad behavior because after all, they’re like “family.”
If your gut is telling you, “Hey! You’re being taken advantage of, you’re being disrespected, you’re in an unhealthy relationship…” you may want to listen up. Your instincts are there to protect you.
Here are some signs you might want to re-evaluate a current friendship:
- They take – and rarely give.
- They’re not reliable – and rarely apologetic.
- They tear you down – and rarely prop you up when you need it.
- They behave in a way that’s unpredictable or volatile – so that you “walk on eggshells” around them to avoid setting them off.
- They do not change – even after your attempts to have an open, honest dialogue about how their behavior makes you feel.
If you feel you’ve spent sufficient energy on someone who seems unable or unwilling to be a good friend, spend your energy nurturing the relationships with people who are.