After three months at university, I realized I had wasted time on the wrong person.
What I thought was a blossoming friendship soon turned into the opposite. To this day, I still don’t know why.
I didn’t have many other friends, and by Christmas, I wanted to drop out. Luckily, I decided to stay. I ended up having two of the best years of my life with friends I’m glad I invested time into.
If those torrid first few months taught me anything, it’s that the wrong people can dramatically affect your life for the worse — perhaps causing irreversible damage.
This article is about noticing those signs.
#1 — Using Social Media as a Tool to Criticise, Not Inform
I was scrolling through Instagram and saw Vanessa Bryant’s heartfelt speech at her late husband Kobe’s NBA Hall of Fame induction ceremony. After, I browsed the comments to see what others had to say.
While most people were highlighting Vanessa’s strength, an alarming number critiqued her very presence, saying things like: “I thought MJ [Michael Jordan] was speaking?”
It’s not much, but one word was rattling around my head: “why?” Why do some people feel it necessary to criticize everything, even things that seem exempt from criticism?
Those are the sort of people you should avoid.
Social media can be extremely useful. You can keep up to date with the world’s events in an instant and talk to other people you’d never meet otherwise. It can be the gateway to opportunities. But not everyone uses it as they should.
As sad as it is, some people love to nitpick. In their eyes, everything needs questioning, even a desperately sad speech from a widow about her late husband.
These sorts of people won’t hesitate to question you or your achievements. People you want to spend your time around will celebrate you. Avoid the ones that find holes in everything.
Do this: Share something you’re proud of and note their reaction. Are they curious, congratulatory, or dismissive? If it’s the latter, perhaps think about spending less time with them.
#2 — Squashing Your Excitement
Imagine you’re a sprinter. You’ve trained your entire life for the Olympic 100 meter final. You win. The crowd goes wild, and the gold medal is draped over your grateful head.
Then the first friend you speak to says you got lucky and comments on your competitor’s injuries. How quickly would that bring your mood down? As fast as you ran the 100 meters, I imagine.
Even if your friends or family don’t understand what you’re excited about, your excitement should be enough to warrant a positive reaction. Much like before, nitpicking and naysaying is a blatant signal you should cut that person out of your life.
You should want to share your achievements with the people you’re close to. If you refrain from doing so because you’re scared of their pessimism, then take your enthusiasm elsewhere.
Do this: If you’re cautious about sharing achievements with someone, perhaps share a fragment of your success. For example, if you’re getting a promotion, tell them you’re taking on more responsibility. See what they have to say.
#3 — A Blatant Disregard for a Different Opinion
In How I Met Your Mother, there’s an episode where Ted is comparing his relationship with his girlfriend Zoe to Lily and Marshall, his two best friends.
Ted and Zoe disagree on everything, whereas Lily and Marshall support each other unconditionally — perhaps to a fault. The episode focuses on how this affects Ted and Lily specifically.
Ted claims they “challenge each other” through differences of opinion, whereas Lily states the obvious benefits of support. They bicker until Ted implodes and realizes constant disagreement is not healthy. And he’s right; it’s not. He and Zoe don’t last for much longer. As Future Ted tells his kids:
“Kids, some couples always support each other and some couples always challenge each other. But is one really better than the other?
Yes. Support is better, way better.”
Some people will disagree for the sake of disagreeing, and it is so annoying.
Of course, it’s healthy to debate your friends and family from time to time. We all have different perspectives. But when it’s constant, it’s less about sharing an opinion and more about being right.
Being right isn’t necessary. The friendships themselves are.
Do this: State something simple that everyone can agree with, and then see how the other person reacts. Do they look to disagree immediately? Petty arguments aren’t worth the hassle.
#4 — Folding When Things Get Tough
During those first few months of university, my friendship with my flatmate was blossoming. I knew him from school, and while we never talked then, we seemed to get on well.
However, the relationship soon turned sour. He gradually stopped speaking to me, played obnoxiously loud music, complained about me to staff, and when I decided to live with other people, got mad and yelled (god knows why).
I still don’t know the exact reason why he felt that way. It seemed when the going got tough, he folded. Rather than try to talk about it, he shut me out. I felt alienated.
When I cut him out of my life, it improved. That’s no coincidence.
Spending lots of time with someone means taking on their issues and working toward a solution. All close relationships are filled with compromise, and if they’re not prepared to even give you an explanation, then they aren’t worth your time.
Do this: If they still don’t explain as to why your relationship has deteriorated, don’t seek one in the future. It’s them who should talk to you first, not the other way round. Prioritize yourself.
Not Everyone Is Worth Your Time
The best thing I did during my first week of university? I made other friends outside of my flat. Those people ended up becoming my housemates for the last two years, and most of them are still my closest friends.
So you don’t forget, here’s a recap of the four signs you’ve met someone you should avoid
- Using social media to criticize, not inform. This shows they specialize in nitpicking, and while you may be able to tolerate such behavior, it will get on your nerves eventually.
- When you get excited, they try and downplay your achievements through negative comments and excuses. People you want to be around should be excited for you—end of story.
- While perhaps offering a different opinion, constant disagreement is not a healthy way to maintain a relationship.
- If you fall out or go through a hard time, someone you want to be around should want to talk and patch things up. When they don’t, it shows what you mean to them.
Not everyone is worth your time. So while a new friendship or relationship may feel exciting, to begin with, things can quickly turn sour.
As the saying goes, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
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