When people talk about toxic relationships, they usually refer to relationships with significant others. But why don’t we discuss our relationships with friends?
Our friendships are just as important as romantic relationships and yet we don’t usually look at our friends with the same critical eye that we do with a new partner.
It is important that you evaluate your friendships to ensure that they are healthy and meaningful. When you want to re-evaluate a friendship, ask yourself these questions:
1. Am I friends with this person because it’s convenient?
One of the biggest reasons I’ve seen for why a person stays friends with someone is because it’s convenient. Maybe you met someone in a class or at work and you’re hanging out with this person every week. Becoming friends with someone because they are in close proximity to you is a solid reason to become friends, but it is not a good reason to stay friends.
I know several people who met their best friends either in high school or college and remain friends to this day. However, as time goes on and the two people change, the friendship is no longer steady. They fight a lot, they don’t communicate well, and they have residual issues.
But since these people have been in their lives for a few years and they go to the same school and have the same circle of friends, they intuitively feel obligated to stay friends. This is unhealthy for both parties. Friendship should never feel like an obligation or a chore. It should be a choice we make daily to continue to move forward with and pursue.
2. Does this person have a positive influence on my life?
This question is crucial when examining one’s friendships because often we become accustomed to a person treating us in a certain manner that we later can’t recognize that their behavior is not good for us.
When evaluating your friendships, ask yourself what you and your friend do for each other. Perhaps one of you is a very good listener and the other one gives great advice. Or maybe you’re both good at showing up for each other when they need help.
Too often, I see people negatively impact their friends, such as pressuring them to do things they’re not comfortable with, being rude, and telling them things they should fix about themselves. I fully support self-improvement, but when advice takes the form of criticism, then I’m skeptical as to whether the friendship is healthy.
Friends are meant to lift each other up, so if you believe you have a friend who takes every opportunity to tear you down, you might want to reconsider that friendship.
3. Can I see myself being friends with this person for a long time?
Depending on the stage of life you’re in, you might be seeking friends for different reasons. In high school, you probably want friends who you can have fun with whereas in college you are trying to find your “people.”
In the workforce, you might be happy with having your work friends separate from your best friends. However, no matter what stage in life you’re in, it’s important to still be cautious of your friendships and see if these are people you want to be friends with for a long time.
If you became friends with someone in college out of convenience, but you want to stay friends with them after college, then you need to put in the work. The best friendships are the ones that you actively pursue and strengthen daily.
If you see a person as a for-now friend, then be careful of how you allow this person to impact your life. If you don’t completely trust someone, then that’s a sign to not divulge all your secrets to them just because you’ve had a few fun nights.
At some point, we will all want those lifetime friends so it’s never too early to put into practice the ways you can tell if someone is a true friend.
By prioritizing meaningful friendships, you ensure that you’re surrounded with good people who will go through all the ups and downs with you. It takes two people for a friendship to work so make sure that both you and your friend are putting in the effort to build and maintain a healthy relationship.