5 Signs You Are Not Good Friends (And How You Can Fix It)
It’s not because they are “The wrong personality type”
Friendships can start out great but slowly deteriorate. Are you still good friends, or have you started to lose the great connection you used to have, and what can you do if you are starting to drift apart?
With friendships, it can often be that what starts out as cute quirks, can start to bother you over time. It can also be that small misunderstandings start to spiral out and become bigger. Or it can be that mental health issues on one or both sides can lead to the relationship taking a negative turn. But what do you do if that happens?
Let’s talk about 5 signs that a friendship is starting to fall apart, and what you can do to do fix it.
1. The other person is not able to meet all of your needs
As a person, you have many different needs, and no person could ever give you everything that you need or want. Perhaps you are looking for reassurance, while your friend is looking to have good, fun arguments. Perhaps you are looking for a silent, listening ear, while your friend is someone that loves to interject and give their own advice. Sometimes, that will work fine for you, but not always.
Something interesting about friendships is that, the fewer you have, the more likely that you will become dependant on the other person to fill all your needs, and the more difficult it becomes to maintain the friendship. Outgoing extroverts will have no problem balancing multiple complicated friendships with all equally unique individuals, while reserved introverts will find themselves tied to one or just a few people, who more intimately match their needs and preferences.
The solution to this is to recognise what needs your friend is able to fill, and which they will find more difficult to provide. Is this your gamer friend who you can hit up for a nice game of League of Legends, or is this someone who you can call up after a rough day to vent? Knowing how you and your friend are able to be friends to one another is key. So don’t be afraid to ask them what needs they have and don’t be afraid to be honest if something is out of reach for you.
2. You (or the other person) is not able to set healthy boundaries
If you or the other person is struggling to set boundaries, there will eventually come a day when it’s time to collect payment. If your boundaries are constantly crossed, you will find yourself feeling more and more drained, and you will become less and less your best version of yourself. You might become more easily annoyed, and you might snap over the smallest thing. If your friend snaps at you, take a step back, it may not just be about putting too much ketchup on the pasta, there might be more going on underneath.
Never be afraid to renegotiate boundaries with one another. If you feel that a boundary has been crossed, let them know how to course correct, so that you can both have an equally fulfilling relationship.
3. Surface misunderstandings
It should be said that online communication is hard. Many misunderstandings start via text. Short messages, or a lack of a response, can mean that your friend is busy, or upset. How would you know? It’s easy to start imagining things. Why are they not as social as you are used to? Why do they seem tense or annoyed at a simple question? It could be about you, or it could be about something completely unrelated to you.
Typically, the best thing you can do is just ask what’s going on, before you start making assumptions. Another solution is to just have a phonecall. You’ll find that someone that seems annoyed in text messages, can be super nice and positive in a voice conversation. Meeting up in real life is another layer, as their body language will be an additional layer. We tend to have less arguments in real life, than we do online. After my years in customer service, I learnt that the best strategy to deal with a difficult customer, is to drop the e-mails, and schedule in a phone call instead.
4. You’re bad at disagreements
Two great friends can get along for months before they run into a disagreement, only to notice that one small disagreement can kill the entire vibe you so carefully built up. Pride is often the explanation here. You both have strong pride, and you are not likely to back down. How do you balance the fact that you have different values? One reason can be that you both want to get the last word in the discussion.
You both want to come out on the winning end. Wanting to win, means wanting the other person to lose, and this is a genuine power struggle. When power comes into the equation, friendships die. Most likely, you’ll find that none of you are prepared to submit to the will of the other, and if you do, you will end up in a co-dependent, or unhealthy relationship, where one partners needs dominate and the other is constantly on the losing end.
You’ll have to decide what matters more to you. Getting the other person on your side, and getting them to admit that you are right, or the friendship? How much do you want them to ask your forgiveness, and how much do yu want them to mold their needs and views to yours? Do you need your friends to think the same way you do about politics, life, and existential matters?
If you feel that your friend is not willing to budge, while you are prepared to turn the other cheek, you’ll have to think carefully about how to proceed. You cannot force them to tolerate or accept you. You can’t expect them to agree to disagree. It may be that they care so much about the matter, that they will prioritise their views or feelings above the relationship. If that happens, you’ll have to be okay with that, and think about how you can protect yourself and your own identity.
5. Mismatching expectations
You might be looking for a more intimate and deep friendship, while your friend might have many other friends and people in their life. Perhaps they’re committed to other people, and busy with their own lives, while you are looking for something more. Mismatching expectations is a tough one. You’ll have to decide what you want and how you can deal with a situation like that.
If you’d like your friend to hang out more, you’ll have to talk to them about it, and see how they feel. If they’re busy or if they have other friend groups, perhaps they could invite you along next time? If they’re the ones trailing behind you, and you’re the one that doesn’t have time to prioritise them, you could always invite them to hang out with your friends.
If one person has romantic expectations and the other doesn’t, this is also something that’s usually best to talk about. Perhaps you’ve started to idealise the other person, and started to confuse it with something romantic. Or perhaps they’re in love with you, and there’s something mutual there, they just don’t know it yet. I’m on the side that romance should not have to kill a friendship.
I tend to believe that true love is always mutual, while infatuations, and friend crushes can happen, long-term, meaningful love takes two parties. You might need a cooling down period, or you might need to see other people for a while to get a grasp of yourself. But if you feel like the expectations are too different, that there is too much pressure, or that you simply can’t get anything healthy from the relationship, perhaps it’s time to move on.
They’re the wrong personality type
Sometimes, people assume that “It’s because they’re the wrong personality type.”
I’ve found that’s usually not true. I’ve learnt to enjoy the company of all the different 16 personalities. It’s not that the other person is the wrong personality type. It’s that you haven’t learnt how to communicate with or hang out with the other person, or they haven’t learnt how to connect with you. Learn about their personality type and reflect on what their needs and expectations are. You’ll find that you share a lot in common with even your biggest opposite. Focus on what brings you together and what connects you, not what pulls you apart.
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