Friends are mostly the best thing ever.
Friends are also the worst thing ever.
These are some of the most difficult relationships we deal with, I would say this especially goes for girls. I’ve had my share of amazing friendships (shoutout to those who – for whatever reason – have stuck by my craziness), but I’ve also been in a few friendships that took a turn towards toxicity, as many of you can probably relate to. I’ve learned to start looking for a few signs in my friendships that show me if this is someone I want to be in my inner-circle – because once they are allowed in – it is very painful to get them out. As you read these, remember to ask yourself if you are this kind of friend, just as I have to ask myself.
* Not all of these points are based on my own experience, but also from observing other relationships around me. *
1. Where do you both stand on issues that are super important to you?
If you are non-confrontational (like I am) than this is crucial. You do not need to agree with your friends on everything, in fact – I’ve learned a lot and become even more secure in my faith by being around those with differing worldviews. Some of my best-friends disagree with me on things, but when there is love and respect it isn’t an issue. Yet still, if you can sense any sort of animosity between both of you on any variety of worldview issues (religion, social politics, ethics/morals, etc.), this may be someone to keep in your outer-circle – or not in your circle at all if they act on it. Some may disagree with me on this, but if you are trying to have people in your life who encourage you, support you, and believe in you, you need someone who believes with you.
2. What is the pattern of their past friendships?
How many lasting friendships have they had? How do people of upstanding character feel about them? I’m not saying you should judge someone based on the opinions of others, but when you start to see those patterns that you were warned about reflected in your relationship, it might be time to take a step back.
3. How do they treat your mutual friends?
I know everyone has heard, “If they’re talking about others to you, they are talking about you to others.” This couldn’t be more true. I’ve had my share of being wrapped up in gossip: I’ve talked about others, and I’ve been talked about by others. It’s painful and dramatic. Ten out of ten would not recommend. Do your friends report to you bad things that the person in question has said and done to them? If so, don’t be suprised when they do the same to you. People are far too predictable.
4. Do they actually like you?
Just like dating relationships, many friendships are very one-sided. I’ve made lots of effort to be friends with people who give me every indication that they don’t like me, but out of denial, and a desire to be appreciated, I have let it happen and let people treat me like dirt. On the other hand, I’ve had people make an effort to be friends with me, and have blown them off in a subtle – yet selfish – way. If you can sense that the person treats you like the jello-cup they choose only when there’s no more pudding, your friendship will never work out. If someone desires to be friends with you, and you “don’t like them,” ask yourself why before you write them off. Is it because they are a bad person? Or is it because of your image/reputation/appearance or other selfish reasons?
5. Does your friend lift you up, or do they act jealous at your accomplishments?
A jealous friend is very hard to deal with, because few of us are bold enough to call them out. I mean really, the problem is ours because we are doing well and they feel bad, right? No. If you aren’t being arrogant or entitled, you don’t have to apologize for your accomplishments. If said friend isn’t over the moon for you, they don’t really like you.
We often feel like we are walking on eggshells around friends who fall into any of these catagories, because regardless, we still desire their approval and respect. We don’t want “friend breakups” for fear of gossip and rumors – the worst side-affect. As painful as it is, there is nothing more joy-filled and free than cleaning out the people who influence you negatively, and filling your time with those who build you up. I so love to be around people who draw me closer to my relationship with Christ, and make me feel loved. Some of my favorite people are just the ones who make me feel like I’m funny, because I at least know they appreciate my presence. I’m so thankful for all the people I have ever been friends with, even the ones that didn’t last, because I have grown, become more secure in my faith, and found who are true friends.
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”