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Am I a Bad Friend? The Bad Friendship Skills that Push People Away

Nobody wants to be labeled a bad pal, but if you’re asking ‘am I a bad friend,’ chances are something’s making you question your friendship skills.

The fact you are reading this tells me that you’re asking ‘am I a bad friend?’ because something has happened with a pal, you’re finding your friendship pool dwindling, or you’re a little paranoid about your friendship skills. Whatever the reason, we could all do with checking in on our friendship prowess from time to time.

Life is constantly shifting and changing, and our lives don’t always run in tandem with those around us. Friends get married, have children, move away, go to college, enter relationships, meet new friends, and these can all upset the delicate balance within your own friendship. Equally, it’s super-easy to become so self-absorbed with everything going on in your own life, that you forget to add a little TLC to the important friendships in your life.

Are you just losing friends or are you really a bad friend?

It’s not something to feel bad about, because it’s normal and it happens to everyone from time to time. The fact you’re asking yourself ‘am I a bad friend?’ means that you care enough to make changes if need be. That’s a sign of a good friend in so many ways. [Read: Are you losing friends or are they just drifting away from you?]

The thing is, nobody is perfect, and that means that nobody is a perfect friend either. I pride myself on being a good friend, but I know I’m not perfect, and I know sometimes I’m guilty of letting friendships slide a little whilst I’m figuring something out in my own life.

I’m okay with that, because I know my friends understand and on occasion they do the same thing. We regroup when the dust has settled, but we’re there for each other in the meantime, either visibly or virtually.

If you’re nodding at the above scenario, that doesn’t make you a bad friend. That makes you normal. What we do need to think about however is a few traits that can sometimes creep into our lives, which can make us a temporary bad friend from time to time. We’ve all done it, but rectifying it is key. [Read: 15 signs of a bad friend to always be on the lookout for]

The traits of a good friend that set them apart

I’ve always been taught to be positive, so before we get onto the bad, here are the traits of a good friend first of all.

– Trustworthy

– Honest

– Open

– Fun to be around

– Supportive

– A good listener

You’re all of those things, right? Of course, you are! But, here is the bad news, there are likely to be negative traits within you which could make you an occasional bad friend.

Am I a bad friend? The biggest signs you’re heading towards bad friend territory

Don’t panic! We all have them, and your friends probably have them too! What you need to make sure is that you don’t allow the negative to tip the scales of balance, from good to bad. [Read: How to be a good friend – The friend code all BFFs MUST follow]

#1 You spill the gossip. Trust is an essential part of any friendship, and if someone tells you something, you need to avoid repeating it, even if it is the juiciest morsel of knowledge you’ve ever heard in your life. If you have found yourself repeating things which have been said to you in private, you’re edging your way towards bad friend central.

#2 You judge people. You need to accept your friends for who and what they are, and don’t make judgements. Of course, they shouldn’t judge you either, as this is a two way street. You’re allowed to have opinions, but don’t voice them if you know it’s going to upset someone. [Read: How to be less critical of the people around you]

#3 You regularly bail on plans. Look, I understand, life is busy and difficult sometimes, and it’s easy to forget plans or need to cancel them at the last minute. Friends understand this occasionally, but when it starts to become a habit, you’re going to start losing friends equally as fast. Make time for friends, even if it’s just a coffee during lunch, because any time spent is better than no time. Remember your priorities! [Read: All the reasons why people ditch flaky friends]

#4 You are not ‘in the moment.” Are you always on your phone? Are you always checking your social media feed? If you’re asking ‘am I a bad friend’ and you can say ‘yes’ to the first two questions, then you could be edging that way.

Nobody wants to spend time with someone who isn’t in the moment or present. You might be updating everyone on your virtual life on Facebook, but what about the person sat in front of you?

#5 You turn things into a competition. Life isn’t a race, and milestones come for everyone at different times in their lives. For instance, your friend might have been married first, before you even got a boyfriend, but so what? We all have different priorities. If you are constantly making your friendships about competition, e.g. who has what, who did what first, then you need to reassess your actions.

#6 You drop your friend when you’re dating. When you first start dating someone new, it’s all exciting and you want to spend every second of the day with them, that’s understandable. What about if something goes wrong? You’ll have cut off your friendships by not spending time with them and then you’re left alone.

How would you feel if your friends did the same thing to you? They will understand to a degree that you’re not spending as much time together, but do not drop your friends entirely. You’re a bad friend if you do. [Read: How much time should couples spend together? The must-know answers]

#7 You never just listen. A key part of friendship is listening to someone when they need an ear. Do you ever just sit and listen? Let your friend talk it all out until they feel better?

If you don’t, or if you find it hard to keep your opinions to yourself, you could be edging into bad friend territory. Friendship should be about support, and of course that means giving advice, but it also means just letting someone offload if they need to, without judgement, without lecturing.

#8 You borrow *money or clothes* and don’t return it. Are you always borrowing things and not giving them back? We all do this occasionally, but I’m talking about doing it a lot of the time. For instance, are you always borrowing a little money here and there but you never really give it back to your friend? Do you borrow clothes and they end up living in your wardrobe and not going back where they belong? You’re lacking in basic friendship respect if you do this, so sort it out!

#9 Everything is usually your way. When you meet up with your friends, are you the one who decides where to go? Are you the one who decides when to meet? If so, ask yourself whether this is them letting you take the lead genuinely, or whether it’s because you are always the one in control for other reasons. Friendship is about give and take, and finding out whether or not you’re a good friend is about asking if you allow others to make decisions about your regular meet ups. [Read: 18 habits that build friendships that last a lifetime]

These are nine ways to answer the question of ‘am I a bad friend?’. Remember, we all have moments where we’re less present or in the friendship than others, but the overall theme has to be that you’re there for your friends no matter what, without back chat, without judgement, and without question.

[Read: 15 qualities of good friends that set them apart]

Whilst you’re figuring out the answer to your question, ‘am I a bad friend?’, you should also think about the friendships in your life and explore whether or not they are exhibiting these bad traits too. Remember, friendships are about give and take, and everything has to be a two way street. This works for the friends around you too.

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