Being a truly first-class friend is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Friendship is work that follows you home long after office hours have technically ended and sometimes, the end-of-the-year bonus totally sucks. There are even times when our closest friendships take more work to maintain than our romantic relationships. However, while maintaining a friendship isn't always easy, it shouldn't be difficult the majority of the time. And it should definitely never feel like a burden.
So if you've got a bestie with whom things have been really rocky lately, you may have to take a fine-toothed comb to your relationship and take a look at what's truly happening between you two. And as much as you may not want to, it's a good idea to start by examining your own behavior. It's easier to change your own actions than it is to alter theirs; plus, the hardest thing to do in pretty much any circumstance is to admit that we're the one at fault. You might be sabotaging the whole BFF thing in ways you don't even realize it. Or perhaps you've been besties for so long that you've let a lot of things slide over the years, and you just don't treat the friendship with the same amount of care that you did when you were two wide-eyed, emotional roommates in college.
Whatever it is, it's worth taking an honest look at your friendship. Because as tough as lifelong friendships can be to maintain, there are very few things on the planet that are more satisfying. I mean, every decent human being should have the comfort of a friend who they can pop a zit in front of and share a piece of gum with. Especially women — we need those kinds of friends in our lives. Don't waste any more time to improve your friendships.
Here are 11 signs you need to be a better friend.
1. You Forget Important Milestones
Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, major accomplishments — these are all things that usually call for, at the very least, a hug and a funny card. We're bound to forget one of them at some point, but a single slip-up won't ruin your relationship. On the other hand, if forgetting about these things is a habit for you, you might not be the quality friend you like to think you are.
2. You Don't Answer Their Texts & Calls
Healthy communication is the foundation of any solid relationship. You can't possibly be besties if you don't keep up with each other on a regular basis. So stop ignoring your friend's texts! And yes, it's just as bad (possibly worse!) if you see the message and wait until the next day to respond, trying to cover with some hackneyed excuse about a fist fight you got into at the burrito place.
3. You Flirt With Their Exes (Or Worse)
Whoever has been on the receiving end of this deserves a big hug and a cinnamon roll. Having a friend go after your ex can be one of the most hurtful things to endure; trust can be broken and feelings can get hurt. Think back on your history with your friend's exes. If you can find text message threads of flirty exchanges or a whole library of late-night phone calls with ex-SOs — or if you're engaging in any kind of physical romantic activity with them — you need to reassess what kind of friend you want to be.
4. You Criticize Them A Lot
Just in case you haven't heard this before, allow me to explain: we are supposed to encourage our friends, not tear them down. Negativity is the quickest way to push people away from you, and don't think you can get away with disguising it all as "honest feedback." Your friend knows when you're being passive aggressive and when you're giving genuine advice. And no, "Are you sure you want to eat that?" is not a way to help them make healthy choices. Find a way to transform those moments of tear-down into bursts of encouragement.
5. You Make Insensitive Jokes At The Expense Of People They Love
It's one thing to joke around together about the weird stuff their mom posts on Facebook, but it's different when you initiate digs out of nowhere. I had a friend once who couldn't stop babbling about all my partner's flaws, masking it all with a (very annoying) giggle, as if that made it OK. It didn't. Keep an eye on how your friend responds to your jokes; you'll know when your wisecracks turn from amusing to hurtful.
6. You're Distracted When You Two Hang Out
Are you always browsing Twitter when you're out to lunch together? Or daydreaming when you're supposed to be chatting about their fight with their SO? What you do with your time sends an important message about how much you care about your friends. If you're not giving them the undivided attention they deserve, you might have to reconsider your game plan for keeping your friend around forever.
7. You Tell Other Friends About Their Business
You knew this wouldn't be over without a sturdy chat about gossiping! Here's a good rule to live by: let your friend be the only one to tell people about what's happening in their life. You don't need to be the one who babbles about their latest update, no matter if it's good news (like their first book getting published) or devastating news (like a death in the family). Nix this from your catalog of habits if you want a shot at maintaining a thriving relationship.
8. You Only Compliment Them On Their Looks
We've been trained to exclusively flatter women based on what they look like, so it's not surprising that a lot of women only seem to compliment their friends on how gorgeous they look in that new pair of jeans. But you're a better friend than that — steer the conversation around to their unique personality traits, accomplishments, and smashing sense of humor. They will love you for it.
9. You Don't Get Excited When They Tell You Good News
If this sounds like you, now might be a good time to check in with that green monster of jealousy. One component of truly caring for your friend is wanting the best for them. So, that snotty scoff you gave them when they told you about a new job opportunity last week wasn't very nice; it was actually toxic behavior that is slowly destroying your bond. Your friend needs you to be a huge, happy supportive force in every part of their life — and the happier you are in response to great news, the better.
10. You Cancel Plans At The Last Minute
Nope. This is not an OK thing to keep doing to your BFF. Sure, there will be times when you simply have to bail because you've been slammed with apocalyptic menstrual cramps or something equally life-ruining, and they'll understand that. Think twice, however, if you're canceling last-minute more often than not. You can't expect your relationship to last at all if you don't give each other the most basic courtesy of showing up.
11. You Don't Tell The Truth
One of the best parts of having a best friend is knowing that you've got somebody in your life who is going to somebody tell it to you like it is, especially when it comes to important matters. They'll be the first to say your haircut is dreadful, and the one to tell you that brand new car might be a waste of money. Your true bestie will lay it all on the table even when there's the small risk of hurting your feelings. But if you don't do that yourself, you can't expect your friends to either.
Images: Comedy Central; Giphy (11)