Friendships and connections are vital to happiness in life, but when they're not going as they should, they can be exhausting. We're always quick to pass the buck, but if you're having a hard time keeping friendships together, it could be that the problem is not them, but you. Take a closer look to find out if you're not the good friend you always thought you were...
1. You Think You're Always in the Right
Do you think you're never at fault for anything? Do you struggle to remember the last time you apologized to your friend? Do you think other people's problems are not that big of a deal? Don't shoot the messenger, but if the answers to these three questions are yes, then chances are you are not only an insensitive friend who rarely considers someone else's feelings, but you're also a selfish one too.
Don't let your friendships suffer at the emotional expense of your stubborn and unresponsive approach. Instead, try to cultivate empathy, see the issue from the other person's perspective, and talk openly about how both sides feel rather than disregarding or shutting down the other person's viewpoint. If you want to keep your friends by willingness and not force, then showing empathy is one of the most important aspects needed to keep your friendships together.
2. You Labor a Favor
Here's the thing about favors - you should always remember a favor done for you, but never remember a favor that you have done for another. If however, you find yourself living life with this in reverse and repeatedly reminding your friends about that favor you did for them waayyy back in the dark ages, then letting this hang over the recipient's head for what feels like an eternity is definitely not the way to nurture a happy friendship.
Offering up a favor is your choice as a friend and should never be used at a later date to influence the outcome of an entirely different point. Always offer favors with an open and uncalculating heart, or not at all.
3. You're Catty With the Comebacks
A friend might trust you with their inner-most secrets, but if catty comebacks about her boyfriend or family are all you can muster in return, that's a one-way ticket to a toxic friendship. Your friend doesn't need to hear that her latest squeeze is a jerk or that her family is backwards. The truth is that she probably already knows that deep down inside and doesn't need to feel worse about an already sticky situation.
Instead, make an effort to improve your listening skills and let her share her problems without being met with judgment. Retain her trust in you by finding a way to reflect on them in a compassionate way that won't add insult to injury.
4. You're a Blocker, Not a Cheerleader
Do you find yourself always poo-pooing something new your friend wants to try or a new guy she is dating without reason? Of course there are times when our friends need gentle words of warning about an idea which may not be quite as good as they think it is, but if you are systematically gunning down every new thing or activity in their lives, then you're routinely delivering a kick in the stomach that they can do without.
Rather than judging and belittling their choices, be inspired by and happy for their willingness to get out there and try something new.
5. You Pressure Instead of Encourage
Life is full of enough peer pressure without your friends adding to the mix. Constantly jostling and cajoling your friends to act in a certain way, go out when they would rather stay in, or dress in the same way as you is not the hallmark of a good friend.
If you are pressurizing your friends to act in a certain way that is self-serving to you, then take a moment to think - why is it so important that they subscribe to exactly your own values? Instead, try to foster some self-discipline and recognize that your friends are their own entity and not an extension of you. And remember that your definition of success or fun is not necessarily everyone else's.
6. You're Greedy
Do you always hot foot it to the restroom the minute the bill hits the table? Or oops! You have no money in your purse? Are you always the one borrowing but never lending, and basically being a sponge?
Friendship is a two-way street and if you're constantly the one taking and not giving, then it's likely that it won't take long for your friendship to fizzle out. Of course, we don't give to receive, but friendship is a balancing act. Be sure to chip in, pick up the tab, and be happy to lend out your items just as your friend would to you.
7. Your Life Is a Drama
Yes, we know everyone loves a good drama, but not a whole life of it. If you find that your life lurches from one drama to the next, sucking in everyone around you with every occurrence being overblown, be aware that this can become exhausting to those with whom you surround yourself.
Try to shift your perspective and become more self-aware. Recognizing that you are the one creating the drama is the first step to minimizing it. Try to stop, take a deep breath, and reflect on whether whatever is upsetting you is really worth the drama. And think twice before sucking your friends into the drama hole with you.
Bad friendships can suck the life and goodness out of even the best of us. With a little objectivity and reflection, you can take responsibility for your friendships and be a better friend before they reconsider the company they are keeping.