Half of your ‘friends’ might not even like you.
The other day on my Facebook feed, one of my friends posted a status update asking if we were really her friends.
She’d linked to an article from the New York Times that suggested half of our friends might not really be our friends at all. That is, we might think someone is our friend, but when asked, they might not actually claim us as a friend. Worse, they might not even like us. The article was pegged to a scientific study that showed just 53 per cent ‘reciprocity’ in friendships. That means more than half our so-called friends might not actually consider us friends, or at least, might not say we’re as close to them as we think we are.
In her post, my friend offered to private message anyone who wanted reassurance that we were really her friends. Of course, she was kidding – but underneath that, aren’t we all just a little bit anxious now about whether our friends really like us or not?
So just in case you ever find yourself wondering, here are 13 ways to know for sure that your friends are really your friends – and that they really do like you…
1. They want to hang out with you
We all have that one person in our lives who we’re constantly planning to have a drink with, and never do. If someone is always too busy to get together, or constantly flakes out on you, you’re probably not really friends. Try acquaintances, or possibly frenemies.
2. They make you feel good about yourself
You know that friend who always makes you feel kind of bad when you’re hanging out, or right after? They might be queens of the backhanded compliment, or maybe just Debbie Downers, but whatever the case, you feel a little sad and sick after seeing these folks. Friends? Not so much. The ones who leave you feeling like you’re a pretty awesome person to be around? Those are stayers.
3. They’re honest with you – but not too honest
It’s nice to know your friends will tell it to you straight – but there’s no need for brutal truth-telling, even between the best of friends. A real friend cares about your feelings enough to cushion the hardest of truths.
4. They never say “no offense, but…”
Honestly, if anyone ever says this to you, don’t waste your time with them ever again. Ever. That kind of mean girl business should be left back in middle school.
5. They don’t play devil’s advocate
I have one friend who does this, and whenever he does it, I call him out on it. (Of course, it’s a dude.) Playing devil’s advocate is just an excuse to be nasty at worst, pessimistic at best. Neither has a place in your friendships.
6. They don’t flake on plans
Sure, everyone gets busy sometimes and needs to change plans – especially if they suffer from anxiety, or are a single parent, or have some other extenuating circumstance. But if someone is constantly flaking, it’s time to reevaluate whether they’re really your friend.
7. They speak well of you to others
Doesn’t it feel great when someone tells you they heard something nice about you? A good friend will brag about you to other people. If they really like you, they won’t want to keep it to themselves – they’ll tell the world how awesome you are.
8. They don’t gossip about you
On the other hand, there’s no worse feeling than hearing that someone said something nasty about you. Gossip always gets back to the person who was talked about, in some form or another. Always. If you’re a real friend, you just don’t do it. And if someone is your real friend, they won’t do it to you, either.
9. They keep your secrets
A true friend can be trusted with your biggest and scariest secrets. And not only will they keep those secrets, they’ll still like you, no matter what skeletons they know you have hiding out in your closet.
10. They’re happy to do different things together
The friend who only ever wants to have a drink after work. The friend who’s only available to talk on the phone when her husband is out of town. The friend who only texts you when you have an extra concert ticket. These are unlikely to be real friends. True friends show up for cocktails and dinners, but they also help you move, babysit your kids, celebrate your new job, and come to your dad’s funeral.
11. You’ve met their family and other friends
When someone is an important part of your life, you bring them into your whole life. You don’t exclude them from certain activities or events, or keep them from meeting the other people in your life. If you call someone a friend, but you’ve never met any of their other friends or family members, chances are, that ‘friendship’ is not reciprocal.
12. You know you can count on them
Good friends are there for you in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse. And the very best of girlfriends still make you a priority even after they’re married, have babies or take on career responsibilities.
13. You like being with them
When it comes right down to it, do you actually like being with this person? Do they make you laugh, and lift you up when you’re down? Do you feel comfortable with them, like you can be yourself? Then you’re probably friends. Trust your gut. It knows who your friends really are.
GIFs via giphy.com.
Comment: What’s your test of true friendship to you?