Because having good friends is the first step to living your best life.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of knowing your friends are your “kind of people”.
From the comfort of knowing your pals will be there to support you through every hurdle life throws at you, to the contentment that comes with laughing at in-jokes with people who ‘get’ you – having a supportive group of likeminded people around you is a really smart way to ensure you’re living your best life.
Who you dedicate your time to can have a significant impact on how you act, think and feel, so it makes sense to take the time to examine your friendship choices, and ditch anyone who might be dragging you down. The company you keep really can influence your life; a 2013 study from Psychological Science surmised if you’re low on self-discipline, surrounding yourself with strong-willed people can help improve this. (A handy study to whip out when trying to convince a friend to be your gym buddy this year.)
Another study from 2014 published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found certain friends can up your likelihood of indulging in bad behavior, from making poor diet choices to more detrimental decisions about your life.
So if you’ve got even a little bit of an inkling you’re giving time to people who perhaps aren’t your “kind of people” after all, here are the red flags you should take note of.
1. You have to be drunk to tolerate being around them
Getting together and enjoying cocktails is one thing, but if you can’t remember the last time you had a sober conversation with someone or the idea of being around them without the crutch of alcohol makes you feel nervous or uncomfortable, it’s a surefire sign that person could be toxic.
2. They make you feel bad about being yourself
Everyone you choose to have in your life should love you for who you really are. If anyone makes you feel crappy for being your authentic self, cut them out, ASAP. This applies to judging your personality, as well as not supporting your dreams, and mocking your life choices. A valuable friend will make you feel good about yourself more often than not. If someone makes you feel bad for being yourself, chances are they’re the wrong people for you.
3. The relationship comes with strings attached
Love and friendship aren’t conditional. If someone really loves you or thinks they’re your friend, they’ll be there for you no matter what, seven days a week, all year around. If there are conditions or certain obligations which dictate if your friendship is strong or not, it’s a tell-tale sign it might not be a true friendship. Nurturing relationships takes effort on both sides, but the love and friendship should come with no strings attached.
4. You’re afraid to show them your dark side
If you’re scared to show someone your dark side because you’re worried they won’t be able to handle it or won’t stay in your life if you do, this is a massive red flag. It’s easy to like someone when they’re the best version of themselves, happy, and positive, but a real relationship – whether a friendship or romance – will make you feel supported and loved during your darkest times. If someone can’t handle your worse moments, they don’t deserve to be around for the best ones.
5. All you do is talk about other people with them
Getting together with the gang and venting about things – or people – who have been getting on your nerves lately is a totally normal part of any friendship. Problems arise, however, if all you do with your friends is talk about people behind their back in a negative way. If you’re friends with an incredibly bitchy and gossipy person, just imagine what they say about you when you’re not around…
6. They never ask about your life
We’ve all had experiences with self-centered people who only care about themselves. You know, the kinds of ‘friends’ who only seem to pop up when they need something, or only talk about their problems without ever pausing to ask how you are or if you’re okay. These people aren’t worth your time, and you’d be better off investing your friendship into people who ask about your life as well, and actually care about the answer.
7. You feel negative when you’re around them
You’re not always going to feel great when you’re around your friends. Everyone has their bad days. But if the very idea of hanging out with someone makes you anxious or feel uncomfortable, or if you always feel negative and down when you’re with them, this is a massive sign these might be the wrong people for you.
8. They make you question all of your choices
It’s a sign of a good friend to challenge you and pull you up when you’re acting in a shitty way. But if your friends are making you feel like you always make the wrong choices in a judgmental way, not in a concerned or caring way, it might be time to reconsider calling them friends. It’s your life and those you choose to share it with should make you feel supported, not guilty.
9. All you do is talk about the past
Getting together and having a good ol’ reminisce about moments you’ve shared in the past is one of the best things about having long-term friends. There’s not much better than the side-splitting laughter that comes from chatting about old times. But sometimes, people aren’t compatible with your future, and if you’re never making new memories because you’re always laughing about old ones, maybe that person isn’t supposed to be part of your life now and it’s time to let go.
10. They don’t encourage you to leave your comfort zone
You should feel comfortable around your friends, but the right kind of people will also push you to achieve things you want, or encourage you to quit things which are bad for you. If you’re too far in your comfort zone, and those around you aren’t challenging you or motivating you to be the absolute best version of yourself, it might be time to reevaluate what their purpose is in your life.
11. They don’t notice when something is wrong with you
Your friends don’t have to be mind-readers, but it’s a pretty good indication they care about you when they pay attention to your behavior and can tell something is upsetting you or making you act differently. You deserve to be surrounded by people who can tell when something is bothering you and want to help you deal with it.
12. You constantly question if they’re even your friends
We’ve all had moments of self-doubt and suffered toxic thoughts which can trick us into thinking the people in our lives don’t actually enjoy being around us. But a strong, valid friendship should feel stable and comfortable, and it’s a massive red flag that you’re hanging with the wrong people if you’re constantly questioning if those you consider friends are really your ‘friends’.
13. Something just feels ‘off’ about them
If your life is filled with the right people, chances are you won’t really notice much wrong. You’ll just feel content. If, however, you’re surrounding yourself with the wrong people, you’ll feel it in your gut or your head will tip you off that something just isn’t quite right. Trust your intuition. And if you had certain people in mind while reading this article, there’s a good chance they are the wrong people for you. Put yourself first and only give the pleasure of your company to those who deserve it.
Images via shutterstock.com, giphy.com, wifflegif.com, tenor.com, gyfcat.com.
Comment: Have you ever had the wrong people in your life? What did you do about it?
Kassi is SHESAID's Global Editor, a passionate and opinionated tea-drinker and cat-lover. She's always sleepy, loves politics and lives for writing about social issues. Follow Kassi on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.