8 Things That Don't Make You A Bad Friend, So Don't Ever Let Anyone Make You Feel Guilty
Our culture is seriously obsessed with romantic relationships: On TV, in magazines, in movies, on blogs, on pretty much any platform we have, we’re constantly talking about how to find a boyfriend (or girlfriend or spouse or someone to feed you cheese while you watch Netflix), how to keep one; We want to know how to break up with someone, how to know what he or she is thinking, and on and on and on. We spend so much time thinking about how to maintain our romantic relationships that it’s kind of crazy to me how little we think about keeping our friendships healthy. Friendships are some of the most important, long-lasting relationships in our lives; they can be incredibly powerful and completely devastating when they fall apart. In a way, friendships can often seem like a given. They lack many of the complications of romantic connections (no monogamy, no sex, no need to have a crazy dramatic break up if you’re drifting apart, and so on), and so I think we often assume that they shouldn’t require work at all. Friends should be fun, right?
Friends are fun – probably the most fun ever – but we still have to work at finding good friends and being good friends ourselves. As with any relationship, it can be hard to always gauge how we’re acting with other people, and it’s natural to find yourself occasionally wondering, “Am I being a bad friend if I do X?” Being a good friend requires love, compassion, and support, but that doesn’t mean you have to go with the flow 100 percent of the time. Here are eight things that do not make you are a bad friend (even if you sort of feel like they do):
1. Not being a hugger
Some people are really physically affectionate, with their romantic partners, friends, and families, and that’s awesome. But there are also lots of people that just aren’t into a lot of casual touching, including hugging, and that’s totally OK. If your friend is a hugger and you’re not, you’re allowed to have a conversation with him or her about personal boundaries and what is or isn’t comfortable for you.
2. Not liking to travel together
It takes a special kind of chemistry for people to be able to travel together successfully. Travel brings on it’s own unique stresses – from being lost to not speaking the language – and there are some people with whom you simply won’t get along in that way, even if, in your normal life, the two of you get on like gangbusters. It’s perfectly fine if you want to travel alone or with someone with whom you’re truly travel-compatible.
3. Not lending money
Money is a touchy subject in any relationship, whether it be familial, romantic, or friendly. There are plenty of situations in which friends can help each other out financially – if, say, your friend was suddenly fired and now can’t pay rent, and you’re financially stable enough to help out, then a loan might be deeply appreciated. But financial loans between friends, regardless of the amount, can also be incredibly fraught. If, for any reason, you’re not comfortable lending cash to a friend, it’s totally OK not to do so. If he or she needs help but you don’t want to loan money, try to think of other ways you can make things easier, like bringing over some home-cooked meals or offering to babysit.
4. Disagreeing with something your friend has said or done
Your job as a friend is to be loving and supportive, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to disagree with something that he or she has done. If you’re not OK with your friend’s actions, tell him or her in a non-angry way. Just say, very simply, why his or her behavior bothers you, and ask what his or her thinking was behind it. We all want to support our friends, but that doesn’t mean we have to be blind to their faults.
If you’re friends with someone for a very long time, it’s only natural that both of you are going to change as you get older. Changes in your living and working situations, romantic relationships, and shifting responsibilities will alter the way that you and your friend relate to one another. All you can do is try to be open to these transformations and to practice as much empathy and compassion as possible. It can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to maintain a sense of closeness throughout all of life’s ups and downs, but, if you can manage it, your friendship will only be that much deeper.
6. Not liking your friend’s significant other
Not liking someone your friend is dating, or even married to, can be a really tricky situation. If you’re finding yourself repelled by him or her, the first thing to do is to try to identify the reason why: Is your dislike coming out of your own jealousy over the time your BFF and her S.O. spend together? Are you turned off by the way he or she treats your friend? Does his or her personality simply rub you the wrong way? How you answer these questions will dictate how you need to act: If your dislike is coming from you — your own jealousy or insecurities in the friendship — then that’s something you need to work on your own. If you can’t stand your friend’s S.O. because you think that he or she treats your friend badly, or even abusively, then you need to sit your friend down and talk about what your seeing. Doing so might cause a rift between the two of you in the short term, but in the long term, hopefully your friend will be grateful that you spoke up. If your aversion to the S.O. is more basic — you simply don’t like him or her, or your personalities don’t mesh — then there’s not a lot you can do about it. Try your best to be welcoming, but it’s OK if, internally, you acknowledge that this is simply not your favorite person.
7. Having other friends
Sometimes friendships are not that different from romantic relationships: It’s easy to feel jealous of a good friend’s other friends. While these feelings are normal, it’s important not to let yourself be ruled by jealousy. After all, you and your friend both have the right to active social lives that include others. It’s OK if you have certain friends who fulfill roles in your life that others don’t; you might, for example, have a friend who you love going to concerts and parties with, and another who is your favorite person to curl up in pajamas in front of the TV with. You might have one friend who is your go-to for relationship troubles, and another who is your shopping guru. Try not to let these categories get overly rigid (you may find that your vegging-in-front-of-the-TV friend is actually amazing to go shopping with), but having all these people in your life isn’t a bad thing — in fact, it’s awesome.
8. Having “me” time
Being BFFs with someone doesn’t mean you have to spend every waking minute together. You’re not a bad friend if sometimes you need time apart. As with any relationship, your friendship will go through a lot of different cycles; sometimes you’ll be together all the time, and others you may only catch up once every few months. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you care about each other any less.
Images: Flickr; Giphy (4)