There are a number of reasons to be friends with someone. Friends are great companions for sharing experiences and conversations with. But sometimes a “friend” can cross the line from being an actual “friend” to a “friend?”
Being a friend to someone for the wrong reasons can be devastating to both you and that person, so it is a good idea to evaluate whether you are friends for the right reasons. If any of the following apply to you and your friend, ask yourself if a friendship is something you really want to pursue with this person or if it would be healthier to just cut ties.
You are afraid to be alone.
- Sometimes, you will keep a friend just to spare yourself from having to go places or do things alone. Being autonomous can sometimes be viewed negatively in our society. Take for example the stigma against going to a restaurant or movies by yourself with the old “aww, he or she must be so lonely to be going by themselves.” People can often think that it is better to pal around with someone you are not particularly fond of rather than to do something by yourself. And it is this very taboo that can make someone more prone to hanging out with someone for the wrong reasons rather than by themselves.
- Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist, hellodrjoy.com said on this topic, “Many times we keep friendships that are no longer servings us well for fear of being alone or being seen as someone who is not worthy.”
They’ve been in our lives for so long anyway…
- Lifelong friends can be tough. Friendship “breakups” are normally tougher than romantic breakups, which is why they are not typically done as much. Sometimes, we just keep seeing a friend because we don’t know any other way. See, friends very often grow apart. They become different people with different lifestyles and little in common. And that can be okay…until that friend (or even you) becomes toxic. While it is our responsibility as adults to evolve and grow, we must ask ourselves if our friend is part of this process.
- “There are also times when we keep friends simply because they’ve been in our lives for a long time. If you are continuing in a friendship where the other person doesn’t celebrate your successes, is always critical, and rarely available to offer support or listen, it’s time to re evaluate why”, Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. added.
You are afraid to make/meet new friends
- All too often we get stuck in a friend comfort zone. Finding new friends takes effort, so out of habit we pal around with our old friends because we are fearful to put ourselves out there.
- “Many people get stuck in friendships due to having fears of meeting new people. It’s scary to put yourself out there and be vulnerable – many of us don’t particularly like to do it. Someone could change that by joining a group/organization and attending social activities. Or joining a hiking club or tennis club. Get involved and you’ll meet new people in a casual/relaxed setting.” Nicole Zangara
You want something from your friend or vice versa.
- Maybe you don’t actually like your friend, but you like what they have. For example, who knows someone who as a child befriended someone just because they had the coolest toys or a pool in their yard? The same sometimes happens to adults. Maybe your friend has a nice house that you enjoy visiting or they have a cool job that allows you VIP access to concerts. Whatever the case, if you don’t actually like that person, just what they give you or what they have, you are not a “real friend.” It is never ‘cool’ to take advantage of someone.
- Maybe you’re the one with the awesome stuff that your friend wants, and if that’s the case, it’s time to stand up for yourself. No one deserves to get taken advantage of.
You want your friend’s status or they want yours.
- Similar to the previous slide, in this case, you are only friends with this person, because they have a high status. Maybe you want to impress people by being friends with that person or to make yourself feel better by hanging out with them. Either way, it’s not a healthy reason to have a friendship with someone. You often hear celebrities complain about this, that they never know which friends are true, because everyone wants to be friends with a ‘celeb.’ Same goes for the non-celebs you may know.
- If someone is only hanging out with you because you are ‘popular’ but does not seem to care about you as a human being, it is best to dump them.
- “You may admire your friend’s possessions, or their status, but if you don’t admire them as a person you are friends for the wrong reasons” Dr. Helen Odessky is a Chicago based Clinical Psychologist and the author of Stop Anxiety From Stopping You.
You’re in it for the numbers
- Keeping within the same theme of being conscientious of how you look to others and materialism, maybe you want to up your own status by looking popular and having more friends, so you just keep this friend around to make yourself look more popular. But sometimes it’s better to have four quarters than a hundred pennies.
- “These days with social media taking over and having hundreds of ‘friends’ has greatly diluted what friendship is really about. I consider that less then 5% of my Facebook ‘friends’ are genuinely my real friends, people I love and actually speak with and see on a regular basis.” Meredith Strauss LCSW, MSW, RYT Light Street Psychotherapy at www.lightstreetpsychotherapy.com
You use your friend as a punching bag.
- This one is tough, because you may not even know you are doing it. You don’t listen to your friend; you just unload all that is on your mind to them and expect them to be there for you and your problems without ever returning the sentiment.
- Or maybe you are the punching bag. Do you ever feel like your friend just unloads all of his or her problems on you? And then when it’s your turn to talk, they fall silent? You might as well be a brick wall. A friendship is about giving and taking, and if your friend does all the talking and never listens, that is a huge red flag.
“A friendship should never be a one-way street.”
Your friend is your DUFF.
- Who saw that movie with Mae Whitman in 2015? DUFFs are sadly very real. This is your friend who makes you feel better about yourself, because you can compare yourself to him or her and feel superior. You may boss this person around and use them for an ego boost. But this is just “not cool” and not what friendship is about.
- It is like the status point in reverse. Because your friend does not have the same status as you, you feel that you are better than them and can use them for an ego boost.
Spending time with them feels like a chore or an obligation.
- If you are feeling like you’d rather be anywhere than with your friend, that is a sign you should move on. There must be an underlying reason as to why this friendship is going south, and the feeling is most likely mutual.
- “Spending time together shouldn’t feel like a job, where you have to clock in a certain amount of hours to justify what you get from them. You should recognize this feeling. It will be a huge contrast compared to how you feel about your other true friendships. Ask yourself if what you “get” from the friendship is worth you not being genuine? Most people realize it isn’t and decide to slowly distance themselves from the relationship. This is best for everyone because being used is no fun either.” Dion Metzger, M.D.
Erica B. McCurdy, MCC, www.McCurdyLifeCoach.com outlined these eight questions to ask yourself to find if your friend is really a friend. Keep this list handy when deciding whether or not it is time to cut ties.
- 1: Would I feel safe sharing my problems with them?
- 2: Do I trust them to keep my issues private?
- 3: Do I use them/or they use me for their status, money or access?
- 4: Would I stop what I am doing/or would they stop to help me if I/they needed help?
- 5: Do I feel good after I spend time with them?
- 6: Do I feel compelled to gossip/share publicly about my time with them?
- 7: Does my friendship feel like a 1-way street?
- 8: Does one of us work way harder than the other to have this friendship?