The older we get, the more difficult it becomes to find and maintain healthy friendships. In childhood, life revolves around our friends. As we become adults, establish families of our own, and rearrange our priorities, friendships often take the back burner or fade away entirely. When we reach a point in our lives when we only have the time and energy for a few close friends, it is important to ensure the quality of those friendships, as well as the honest intentions of the people we label as “friend.” Our lives are greatly affected by who we choose to surround ourselves with, and spotting someone who doesn’t necessarily have your best interest at heart is a critical skill when learning to foster your own happiness and emotional evolution.
We help people with addictions and substance use disorders recover. Get mindfulness training and learn the 12 Steps for deeper healing.
They Have Negative Things to Say About Your Success
So-called-friends who don’t have your best interest at heart are more likely to downplay your success or discourage you from working towards a goal. You may share a dream with them or your ambitious plans for the future, and they will tell you that it sounds like too much for you to take on. Even after achieving an impressive goal, these people may respond negatively by suggesting that you have misguided priorities, or by warning you that failure is just around the corner. These discouraging comments are usually a reflection of an individual’s inability to believe in themselves or make positive changes in their own life, and so they attempt to prevent the success of those around them.
They Share Your Secrets
A good friendship requires a great deal of trust and confiding in someone you consider a close friend should be a sacred and safe act of emotional release. Unfortunately, some people who are seemingly trustworthy will spread your personal business around for their own gain. These people enjoy acquiring the secrets and confessions of others to use as social currency, buying their way into groups and statuses with gossip. Someone who truly cares about your wellbeing will act as a vault for your most personal information, allowing you to vent and unload without the risk of exposure.
They Don’t Actively Listen
Most people are naturally self-center to some degree. We all enjoy talking about ourselves and ranting over our personal problems. It takes a great deal of effort and intention to actively listen during a conversation with a friend, but when we truly care about someone else, we know they deserve that level of undivided attention. Someone who does not care about your wellbeing won’t take the time to actively listen as you speak, but instead will always seem as if they are waiting for an opportunity to redirect the conversation back to themselves. They may even behave distractedly, taking out their phones while you talk and making very little eye contact. These people are less concerned with your opinion and more concerned with hearing themselves talk.
They Take More Than They Give
Any healthy relationship should be a balance of giving and taking. We all have bad days when we need a bit of extra emotional support or a shoulder to cry on, and we all can offer that support in return. People who don’t genuinely care about you tend to drain you of your resources, be they financial or emotional and are nowhere to be found when it is your turn to ask for a favor. You may go out of your way to cheer these people up when they are feeling low, or be there when they need a ride to the airport or a tire change on the side of the road. However, when you find yourself in need, you feel like an inconvenience to them. True friends will go out of their way to help and support you in difficult times, and will never ask more of you than they are willing to give in return.
They Encourage Your Unhealthy Behavior
One of the most telling marks of a person who has your best interest at heart is their ability to speak honestly with you about ways in which you may be harming yourself. If you are struggling with mental wellness and find yourself withdrawing from the world, a true friend will get you out of bed and motivate you to seek help. We often develop unhealthy relationships with the people who share our unhealthy habits, such as drinking or doing drugs. People who struggle with addiction sometimes experience pushback from so-called friends when they decide to seek treatment because these friends don’t want to lose their partying and substance abuse companions. It is true that misery loves company, and someone who doesn’t care about what is best for you may encourage you to stay sick and stuck so that they don’t have to be alone in the darkness. Happiness sometimes requires letting go of people and lifestyles that don’t support your mental health evolution.