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How to Deal with Selfish Friends & Recognize the Ones that Hurt You

Figuring out how to deal with selfish friends takes patience, balance, and, actually, a little bit of selfishness on your part.

Selfish friends are a part of everyone’s life at some point. We are all guilty of selfish tendencies, so learning how to deal with selfish friends isn’t too surprising.

Some people are selfish for reasons they may not even know. Others may not even realize they’re being selfish, while a few selfish friends may just be purely selfish. But, no matter why they may be selfish, how they got that way, or what it is doing to your friendship, how do you deal with selfish friends?

What are selfish friends?

Selfish friends may seem like bad friends on the surface, but people are not that simple. Selfish friends are complicated. Just because someone seems selfish doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad person or a bad friend.

How are they being selfish? Is being selfish really that bad? Sometimes being selfish is what you need to do. We need to look out for ourselves sometimes. We need to worry about our own happiness and well-being. But, when do we cross over from being selfish to being a bad friend? 

[Read: How to stop being a doormat and allowing people to use you]

Is their selfishness above and beyond looking out for their best interest? Are they putting themselves first *which is perfectly acceptable*, or are they actually being a bad friend?

Selfish friends and bad friends are not always the same thing. A selfish friend may put their job and their family or their mental health above going to see a movie with you or texting you back right away.

But, a selfish friend is sometimes unaware of their selfishness. A selfish friend puts themselves first but doesn’t always put you last. People are selfish for all sorts of reasons like self-preservation, trust issues, and more.

Those selfish friends can be dealt with patiently. The selfish friends that are also bad friends are who you really should worry about. [Read: 15 signs of a bad friend to always be on the lookout for]

Although my experiences with selfish friends have worked out, that is not always the case. Some selfish friends are beyond patience and understanding. These are bad friends.

A bad friend won’t reach out or ask you how you are. A bad friend will not be there to celebrate the good times or comfort you in bad times. They will consistently cancel plans. A bad friend may lie. They may try to manipulate you or make you feel guilty for things that aren’t your fault. [Read: How to handle a friend who uses you and break the cycle]

A selfish friend who is a bad friend will only reach out when it is convenient for them. They may want to cry on your shoulder but never offer theirs. A selfish friend who is also a bad friend will not just put their needs first but will also put yours last.

A truly selfish friend may leave you feeling empty after spending time together. You may feel drained just from talking to them. Selfish friends often take a lot more from the friendship than they give.

It is up to you to figure out if you friend has some selfish tendencies or is selfish to the point that they are a bad friend. [Read: 15 signs you’re in a one-sided friendship and it’s time to cut them loose]

How to deal with selfish friends

Dealing with selfish friends is about patience, balance, and well, selfishness.

When you’re trying to figure out how to deal with selfish friends, you need to determine if this selfish friend is worth your time, friendship, and energy or not. Once you do that, you can deal with their selfishness accordingly.

#1 List out the reasons you’re friends. If you have selfish friends, think about why you’re still friends. What are their good qualities? What do they bring to the friendship? Do you just keep each other content at work and aren’t that close? Do you confide in each other?

Is this someone you want to have in your life? Do you enjoy any aspects of your friendship? 

#2 List out their selfish actions. Making a list of what they have done that you think is selfish can help you gain perspective. Are their actions really that severe or are you overreacting? Or is there a major pattern of selfishness that is getting to you?

Are they busy with family stuff or work and you are just upset they don’t have as much time for you? Or are they really only reaching out when it’s convenient for them? [Read: 16 reasons why people take you for granted so easily]

#3 Are you being selfish? Also, think about if you do the things they do. They may not reach out to make plans, but did you cancel on them a bunch? Do you ask them how they are doing after a bad day or a fight with their significant other?

You might feel like they do all these things that are selfish, but you may not realize you’re doing the same thing which can really cause a rift in a friendship. [Read: Am I the bad friend? The bad friendship skills that push people away]

#4 Put yourself in their shoes. Think about why they may be acting selfish. There is a good chance they weren’t always this way or else you wouldn’t have becomes friends in the first place. Did something recently happen in their life?

Sometimes if a friend is going through a hard time, they may retreat from friends. It can come off as being selfish. They could be going through something emotionally or mentally and aren’t ready to talk about it. They may even be struggling with trust issues.

When it comes to knowing how to deal with selfish friends, remember that none of these are valid excuses for being selfish or a bad friend, but we all have times when we aren’t proud of ourselves.

#5 Talk to them about it. Once you have tried to look at your selfish friend from a different perspective, talk to them about it. Don’t accuse them of anything or attack them. Just let them know how you feel.

Tell you you’ve been feeling like your friendship isn’t as strong as it once was or that you’ve noticed a change in them. Maybe they just need someone to talk to. [Read: Should you overcompensate for your fickle friends or kick them out?]

#6 Be patient. A selfish friend will not change their behavior overnight. They may apologize or try to be more selfless with you. But if they have gotten used to their selfish behaviors, it won’t be easy.

If you want to hold onto this friendship, give them some time to work on your friendship. [Read: When is it time to end a bad friendship?]

#7 Do you enjoy their company?  Once you’ve talked to your selfish friend and have been patient with their growth and realizations, figure out if you still enjoy their company. Is this someone that was going through a rough time or someone that has actually become selfish?

Sometimes a friend can seem selfish when their life is just in a completely different place than ours. You might have kids and think your single friend is selfish or vice versa, but it is just the drastic difference in your lifestyles that could be distancing you.

#8 Can you trust them? Trust is a major player here. You can have a good friendship with a selfish friend if you trust them. You may have a best friend with selfish tendencies, but that is okay.

When their selfishness makes you lose trust in them, that is when the friendship may not last. Is their selfishness making you weary of confiding in them? Will they share something you said in confidence to push themselves further at work? If you can’t trust them due to their selfishness, it may be time to stop dealing with them. [Read: How to recognize a friend who uses you and drains your happiness out]

#9 What are you getting out of the friendship? A friendship, just like any relationship, is a two-way street. You give and take. You both put effort in and both get a friend out of it. But, are you getting anything out of this friendship?

Do they bring anything positive to your life? Do they cheer you up when you have a bad day or do they drain your energy? Or do they congratulate you on a job well done or put a negative spin on everything? [Read: How to spot selfish people and keep them from hurting you]

#10 Should you let them go? Sometimes, when it comes to knowing how to deal with selfish friends, the best way is to do what is best for you and be selfish. Let them go. Distance yourself from them.

Whether you were once very close or have been friends for years, not everyone is meant to be in our lives forever. Selfish friends have their places in our lives. Sometimes that place is the past.

[Read: 17 bad friends you should unfriend from your life now]

Figuring out how to deal with selfish friends is not just a thought or a chat away. It requires introspection, perspective, and making the hard decisions. Give these suggestions and thought, and make the right decision for your future and happiness.

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