Sorry, But You Really Are a Terrible Friend. Here's Why.

Rose Bak

Good friends are hard to find. Don’t alienate people by being a jerk.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

Are you a sucky friend?

If you just said no, take a hard look at yourself and think again. Ask yourself how your friends would answer that question. If your friendships are not as good as they could be, the problem just might be you.

Everyone thinks they are a good friend, but the fact is, not everyone is good at maintaining positive relationships.

Good friendships are based on mutual respect, honesty, and support.

If you are truly good friends with someone, you both will actually look forward to spending time together. There will be natural give and take.

Everyone should have a few good friends. Friends are good for our mental and physical health.

As we get older, it becomes more and more difficult to create new friendships. That’s why it’s so important to put in the work to only have good friends, but also to be a good friend to others.

Friendships, like any relationship, can have their ups and downs. Sometimes life gets in the way and we are not as nice and supportive and present and communicative as we would like to be.

But when bad behavior becomes a pattern, it’s time to do some soul-searching and think about if the problem is actually you.

How can you tell if you are actually the kind of friend you want to be? Here are ten signs that you are a terrible friend, and what to do differently.

  1. You always wait for your friend to contact you.

No one likes to be the person who always initiates contact. After a while, your friend may just give up on you. There’s no excuse for not keeping in touch.

When your friend crosses your mind, give them a call, or send them a text. If you need to, write it into your calendar to reach out to the people you care about. Make them a priority in your life.

2. You only talk about yourself.

We all have those people in our lives who talk and talk and talk about themselves the whole time. They might throw in an obligatory “so what’s new with you” before going back to talking about their own shit. Next time you’re talking to your friend, pause. Take a breath.

Allow someone else to speak. Your friend needs to talk too. Actually, listen instead of planning what you’re going to say next. Show your friend that you are interested in them too.

3. You borrow money.

Your friend is not your bank. It’s one thing if there’s a true emergency, like you need money to pay for your kidney transplant or you have an unexpected emergency.

But most of the time your need to borrow money is because you are not budgeting. Don’t be that person who is constantly borrowing $20 here and $50 there and worst yet, not paying it back.

Don’t ask for a loan unless it’s truly and emergency and you fully intend to pay your friend back promptly. Be respectful of your friendship and remember, nothing kills a friendship like borrowing money.

4. You have to one-up everyone.

When your friend shares an accomplishment, do you counter with something you think is better? Did you announce your engagement at your friend’s wedding? When your friend has a problem, do you say things like, “that’s nothing” and share some problem of your own?

It’s not a competition. Let your friend have their moment, good or bad. Ask yourself if you really need to share your own experience or accomplishment. You don’t need to show them up. Let them be the center of attention for once.

5. You steal their boyfriend/spouse/partner.

This seems obvious but just in case it’s not, this is literally one of the very worst things you can do to a friend. Ask yourself why you would even consider taking up with your friend’s significant other. Is it jealousy? Are you just a terrible person?

Stay far away, and if your friend’s SO comes onto you, run away. And tell your friend. You would want your friend to tell you if the situation were reversed, right? Go out and find your own love interest.

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” ― Madeleine Albright

6. You ignore them every time you start a new relationship.

We have all been there. You’re in the exciting stage of a new relationship where you want to spend all your time with your new squeeze. Remember that your friend was there for you before this relationship, and likely will be there for you after.

Don’t be that woman who abandons everyone for a new love. In the immortal words of Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation”: it’s “ovaries before brovaries”, or “bros before hoes”, as the case may be.

Make sure your new love interest understands that your friends are important to you too and carve out time to maintain those relationships. And don’t bring your new love with you either. Be independent.

7. You don’t respect boundaries.

If your friend asks you not to pop over without a call, respect that. If they tell you they don’t want to drink or dance or do karaoke or whatever you’re proposing, listen to them. They know where their comfort level is.

No one likes to be pressured into doing something they don’t want to do. Make sure you know what your friend’s boundaries are and respect them. Tune in to your friend’s discomfort. Sometimes it’s a fine line between encouraging and pressuring, be sure you stay on the right side.

8. You make your friend do all the work.

If your answer to “Where do you want to go?” is always “I don’t care, you pick” you need to take a hard look at yourself. It’s hard being the person who always makes the plans, picks the restaurants, gets directions and generally manages the events.

Take turns and do your share. If you’re stumped for ideas, check out yelp or google. Take initiative.

9. You repeat secrets.

Even if your friend does not specifically say “don’t tell anyone about this”, you generally know when something is being shared with you that should not be repeated.

Honor your friend’s privacy and don’t gossip about them with other people in your group. Be a vault, and your friends will trust you even more.

10. You’re judgmental.

Chances are your friends will occasionally do things you don’t agree with. Be the friend who loves them even if, in your eyes, they aren’t perfect. We all make bad decisions from time to time.

Tough love is one thing but acting like you’re superior to someone because they made a mistake is just rude, and unhelpful. Instead of judging them for killing someone, be the friend who grabs a shovel and helps them bury the body, no questions asked.

Final Thoughts

Friendships can take a lot of work, especially in adulthood. If you value your friendship, do the work. Sooner or later your friend will get fed up with how terrible you are and decide to cut you loose.

Ask yourself, if your friend broke up with you, how would it feel? If you feel pretty neutral about it, or even relieved, you’re not truly friends anyway.

But if you would miss this person in your life, suck it up and resolve to be a better friend. Your friends will appreciate it, and in the end, the friendship will be stronger.

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Rose Bak is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon with her family and special needs dogs. She writes on a variety of topics including local news, homelessness, poverty, relationships, yoga, and aging. She is also a published author of romantic fiction. For more of Rose's work, visit her website at or follow her on social media @AuthorRoseBak.

Portland, OR

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