Most of us don't wake up in the morning thinking, "OK, time to head out into the world and be a bad friend." And yet, it happens. Even though you totally don't mean to be difficult, it's totally normal to have a bunch of habits that make you a bad friend.
I'm talking about the things you do without realizing that make you hard to be around, or difficult to talk to. They're the habits that push your friends away, or make them think twice about continuing your relationship. (I know. Yikes.)
There is good news, though. With a little self-reflection, it is possible to drop the bad habits and fix your ways. All it takes is recognizing where you might be going wrong, and then making the effort to change.
"Being willing to admit your faults goes a very long way in any type of relationship," says psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez, in an email to Bustle. "It shows an awareness, and a willingness, and a genuine care for the relationship." And sometimes, that's all it takes to repair any damage you might have caused — and get your friendship back on track. Read on for some signs it may be time to do just that.
1. You Always Direct The Convo Back To Yourself
There's nothing wrong with relating to your friend, or telling a "that reminds me" type story. But take note if you're constantly steering the convo back to yourself. "This shows that you aren't really interested in what your friend has to say — you are more interested in talking about yourself," says life coach Kali Rogers, in an email to Bustle. "Friendship is a two way street, so please be open and accepting when it's your friends turn to vent, share, or chat."
2. You Only Turn To Her When You Need Help
We all have that one friend who's great in times of crisis (i.e., showing up with burritos after you get dumped.) Because she is so wonderful — and full of amazing advice — it's really easy to take her for granted. So take note if you're turning her into your "rough weather" friend, licensed psychotherapist Annie Wright, MFT, tells me. It's necessary to nurture the relationship in good times, too.
3. You Struggle To Be 100 Percent Genuine
No one likes to argue, so it's totally normal to bite your tongue when it comes to revealing your true feelings. It may feel polite, and yet it only creates more problems. "You're being inauthentic and usually this leads to conflict and resentment on one or both ends of the relationship," Wright says. So go ahead and spill those proverbial beans. The friendship will be better for it, I promise.
4. You Forget To Ask Him Any Questions
The next time you meet up with your friend for coffee, make it a point to ask him questions about his life, too. When you don't, it creates a very one-sided friendship — and that's not OK. "You need to show an interest in your friend, and sometimes that is going to come in the form of questions," Rogers says. "People love to talk about themselves, so giving your friend an opportunity to do so without [him] having to bring it up first is a great way to create a stronger friendship."
5. You Accidentally Reveal Hints Of Jealousy
If your friend is basking in all types of success, it can be difficult to not feel jealous of her perfect life. And it can be even more difficult to smile and be happy for her — especially if your life isn't going as well, Martinez tells me. While kind of understandable, don't let jealousy ruin you friendship.
6. You Can't Stop Complaining About Your Life
Whining together is a huge part of what makes friendships great. And yet, going hard on the complaining front can turn you into quite the drag. "Friends are meant to uplift and encourage us — not be total wet blankets," says clinical practitioner Michelene Wasil, LMFT, in an email to Bustle. So keep those positives and negatives a bit more balanced.
7. You So Don't Respect Her Boundaries
It's easy to get carried away when around your friend — especially if you two have known each other forever. But that doesn't mean it's OK to disrespect her boundaries. "For example, if your friend asks all of [her] houseguests not to talk about politics around the dinner table and you do it anyway, it may seem like a small thing to you but, in fact, you've crossed her boundaries and disrespected her needs and wants," Wright says. And clearly, that's not cool.
8. You Slip Up And Gossip Behind Her Back
We all fall prey to the occasional gossip attack, so don't feel bad if you slip up. Just don't turn gossip into a habit, lest you turn yourself a bad friend. "You might not think this is harmful, but it is," says relationship expert Audrey Hope, in an email to Bustle. "Words carry, talk travels, and this can come back to bite you."
9. You Don't Give Her Room To Change
It can be difficult to watch your childhood friend get married, or go off to have a baby. (I mean, we've all seen Bridesmaids.) But that doesn't mean you need to hold her back or make her feel bad for changing. "Life happens, people change, and as the months and years pass we grow and evolve as individuals," Wright says. Even though it can hurt, you gotta be OK with that.
10. You Wait For Her To Make All The Plans
This might be a case of perceived politeness. And yet, waiting around for your friend to make all the plans isn't actually very nice. As Martinez tells me, this makes for a very one-sided relationship — and that's not exactly how relationships should work. So do your friend a favor and start to call her up when you want to hang out. She'll really appreciate the effort.
11. You Cancel Plans When Something Better Comes Up
This totally sucks when it happens to you, but how many times have you done this to someone else? People can totally tell when you're holding them in the wings and awaiting news about other plans. It's so so rude. As is canceling plans, Dr. Julie Davelman tells me. If you make a commitment, stick to it. Yes, even if something "better" comes along.
If you do, you'll be checking off one of the many boxes that make you a good friend.
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