Love & Life

Friendship Red Flags You Should Never Ignore

Are friendship red flags really a thing?

  • written by Joy Onu
  • 5 min read
  • 22 Aug, 2023
Andrew Moca

Relationships these days are so hard to maintain, we’ve gotten so used to spotting red flags in our romantic relationships that we just easily let red flags fly in our platonic relationships. The dating scene is filled with so many cautionary tales, so it's easy to be on high alert for deal breakers, but when it comes to friendships, the same rules don’t apply.

Unhealthy relationships of any kind are not good for your soul, just as you’re on the lookout for deal breakers in your romantic relationship, you should also be on the lookout for friendship red flags. Having a solid friendship is so underrated, you watch television shows such as Friends and you wonder why your friendship group isn’t as fun, supportive and cool. 

I know Friends is just fiction,  but in real life, there are friend groups that are just as good. All you need to do is keep friends that are good for you, friends that support and love you just as you are without any toxic strings attached. Here are a few friendship red flags we think are worth looking out for.

Transactional and One-Sided Friends

Do you ever feel like you’re being used by a friend? At one point or another we’ve all experienced having friends that seem to only be around when they want something from you. While there’s nothing wrong with having a friend that can rely on you in their moment of need, it is essential to be able to tell the difference between the former and the latter.

Friendships are supposed to be beneficial, but never should they feel one-sided. If you have a friend that never seems to have your time, except for when they need you, that should be questioned. It is important to note that these red flags in no way means you should cut it off with your friends, it just means that if you’re feeling a type of way about their actions, a conversation is necessary. 

Friends That Make Jokes At Your Expense

It is so easy to make excuses for your friends, it’s easy to fall into the trap of chalking down their negative behavior to ‘friendly banter’. Friendships aren’t supposed to hurt, if this person takes your insecurities and weaknesses and turns them into a punchline at your expense, is that really your friend?

The trick is to not let their words get to you, but it is also to set clear boundaries that don’t allow them to make jest of you and things you find sensitive, all in the name of cracking a joke. It gets worse, if they ever say to you: “You can’t take a joke” the chances are, they are not very good friends.

They Never Take Accountability

Having friends that don’t apologize when they have wronged you can be so draining, the last thing you need is someone that doesn’t act accordingly after they’ve hurt you or done something to you. The thing about friendships and any other type of relationship is that arguing and quarreling is inevitable and normal, but what happens when one person hurts the other beyond measure?

Having friends that know when to apologize is important, if they constantly avoid taking responsibility for their actions, if they constantly avoid apologizing genuinely when they should, then there’s more work to be done after you’ve communicated the issue to them.

It’s Always Bad Vibes

Bad vibes could mean anything, but what does it mean to you specifically? Do you feel like yourself around them or is it such an unstable friendship that constantly leaves you feeling drained? 

A friendship isn’t always perfect, just like any other type of relationship, there will be ups and downs, but when there’s just always a bad vibe around that leads to emotional stress, that’s when you need to start questioning it all.

A Friend That Is Always Trying To One-Up You

Having a good friend begins and ends in the way they treat you, a good friend will always be happy for your successes, but if you find yourself in a friendship that feels like there’s always lowkey competition amongst you, then there’s an issue.

It’s an incredible thing to find a friend that pushes you to be your best, where it gets toxic is if it feels like your friend is secretly competing with you, it could even come off as jealousy. Whatever the case may be, you don’t want a friend that is trying to be better at you at every turn, or a friend that makes your wins look small, just to make theirs seem more relevant.

At the end of the day, are you being a good friend to your friends? It is also important to remember that you can’t count on people to be exactly how you want them to be, you will also not find everything in one person. At times different friends fulfill different roles in our lives, it is important to appreciate the good friends you have and let go of friendships that aren’t serving you.

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