Where would any of us be without our friends? Well, if those friends really suck, the answer might just be “in a much better place.”
When you’ve known someone for a while, it can be hard to see that they’re really bad for you. Because the signs aren’t always obvious.
What is a non-obvious red flag in a friendship? from AskReddit
So what do the sages of Reddit think we ought to be on the lookout for? Let’s gear up with knowledge and protect ourselves.
1. Who calls who?
It’s just a small thing, but really how difficult is it to pick up your phone once in a while and check in on someone?
My closest friend of many years live across the country and I recently realized that every single conversation I have had with her in the past 3 years have been initiated by me.. I understand getting caught up in your life such that you forget friends you do not meet everyday, but this hits me hard.
Since the pandemic hit us, I have been vigilant in catching up with all my friends, close and not so close, at least once a month or so.. Just to check in on them and see how they’re doing.. I spoke to this friend about a month back, and she was doing fine.. I spoke to her 2 days back to find that her dad was badly affected and she was with him at the hospital for almost 3 weeks.. It hurts me to think that someone I consider a close friend would not turn to me, even in the face of that terrible situation..
I read all these other posts about supposed friends who turn to you only when they need the support, but the exact opposite hurts too.
Feeling like they’re trying to micromanage you. I had a former friend who, among other things, would constantly be monitoring everything I said/posted on social media.
I already have to deal with a lack of privacy at home.
If I can choose not to associate with someone who doesn’t respect boundaries, then I won’t.
3. When they’re obsessively competitive
Such as when you share a bad experience, they go and say “That’s it?” then say that their experiences are worse.
Like, come on man lemme b**ch about my cheating father who chose to stay with his woman instead of making me feel like s**t then rant about your grandmother taking your laptop away because you failed Science.
4. Being unpredictable
If you are uncertain of how an interaction of you guys are going to go. If you get an erratic or wild card sense from them, that’s a problem.
Each time I go to hang out with friends, I look forward to doing it and I have a gist of what will go down.
If you can’t say the same about someone else whether they are moody, asking for stuff, or just not looking forward to it, etc…you may want to reconsider where you stand with them
5. Leaving you out
When you go out together and they spend the entire time talking to others and discluding you.
Rarely (if ever) showing an interest in what you find interesting.
6. Not letting you in
They don’t tell you things and you dismiss it as they’re a private person or whatever and then you find out later that they’ve known something for ages that if they’d cared to share it you could have avoided some fairly painful stuff.
7. Hard to put in words
I cannot really point out a red flag in a few words, because the red flag is often set within a specific situation. In my case, I had a friend who was trans, he was actually a she and I had no issue with that at all. She would message me daily to talk to me, she had a few mental illnesses as well – which again, I do not judge against whatsoever – and I tried to help her see certain situations from different perspectives, so I saved her from a few fights with her mum and other people.
She would talk to me day in day out, even when my own mental health began to deteriorate and when she wanted to talk to me, sometimes I would let her know I was too tired or didn’t want to right now.
In the end she exploded at me after I had worded an issue I had with her rather poorly, saying how I had been nasty to her and was trying to manipulate her. She blocked me everywhere after that.
I guess in short, when a friend is only friends with you for what they can gain from you and won’t respect your boundaries, that’s a red flag, but it’s not always clear to see. These people can make you feel like you’re the bad guy instead and subtly push boundaries by making you feel like you should be better to them instead of vice versa. A true friend should be someone around whom you can be 100% yourself, with all your quirks and flaws included, who respects you if you need to take a step back.
8. “You should…”
Frequent use of the phrase “you should…”.
I had a friend who did this, and it was usually said kindly, but there was a lightbulb moment when I realized how judgmental they were, and then all of the you shoulds started to add up.
9. No effort at spreading joy
When you make plans with someone or you call a friend or you randomly bump into them and they never act like they are genuinely happy to see you or even talk to you.
Like give me a smile, some good news, or just a what’s up guy.. – anything.
I didn’t sign up to be the the right butt cheek to your s**t and misery….
This doesn’t refer to sharing their own story in response to yours, that’s pretty normal.
It’s more about how you can never have the focus remain on you, it always becomes about them.
11. When just being around them is tiring
Finding the right thing to say so they don’t get bored of you. Watching your acting so they don’t think something’s different. Deep inside, you don’t want to meet them. You just wanna disappear and make them forget you were there.
It just takes too much of my energy. Man you made me rethink all of my friendships right now. I guess I should thank you, cause now I know what’s happening.
12. It’s not me, it’s you
‘I seem to attract people who are sh**ty friends.’
Said to me by someone who boundary stomped, gossiped, talked about herself incessantly, Facebook stalked my other friends, got jealous when I spoke to people who weren’t her and tried to insert herself Into every part of my life during the 18 months we knew each other.
13. No consistency
When they can’t keep plans consistent.
If they’re consistently last-minute dropping/changing plans, then it’s a sign that you’re their second-best option.
You’re their backup if nothing else is better
14. When you have to excuse them
You make excuses for everything they do and say to you. They didn’t really mean it, they’re going through a hard time, they’re just tired, depressed, manic, anxious, dysphoric, etc.
Obviously these things can be valid. But when it’s all the time, that’s not good.
15. Shifting treatment
Treating you differently when you’re around other people- acting embarrassed, disgusted, condescendingly, reserved.
It happened to me personally and it took awhile for me to understand it fully, but babes don’t stick your necks out for someone who wouldn’t even lift a pinky for you
16. The one-sided treatment
I had a friend I met while we were both around 15 weeks pregnant. She gave birth 2 weeks after me. At first our friendship was great. We texted all the time (Covid times), and because we were new moms, and up at all hours of the night, sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning. It was amazing: we vented about “new mom” problems, spousal troubles, hating “Covid-times”, and the good ‘ol days.
But then it became more and more 1-sided. She started complaining every day about her marriage. (Her husband was a decade younger than her, and freshly 20 years old being married with a new baby, was still not acting the part). It was relentless. He would do these childish things like: 1. Spend their stimulus check on a motorcycle he didn’t know how to ride or have a license for, without telling her 2. Come home from work and (if you’re a mom you’ll understand) complain about how she has it easy taking care of an infant, or that she spends all day on the couch 3. Play video games when he wasn’t working, even with his baby in his lap 4. When the baby would cry and she was in the shower, he would bring the baby into the bathroom to ask her to get out of the shower to take care of it.
This guy was a s**t bag. She told me so many times how she wanted to move back home to get some help from her mom and sister (who live 8 hours away). I told her to do so, she was really struggling mentally. She did for a week or two, and had to come back early because her husband said he was going to kill himself. Every day she texted me long paragraphs, one after the other, saying she felt trapped with a child-husband, and an infant. I was on the brink, me having a stable, absolute saint of a husband who is the best dad and partner, and having to listen and give advice that wasn’t being listened to.
The moment when it because too much: she told me she was pregnant again. It was a month after she told me (so she’s 3 months pregnant with a 9 month old).
I talked it over with my husband and he told me I was in a 1-sided friendship. I was doing so much for her at this point; taking her to appointments, buying her food, and ultimately, giving asked-for advice she wasn’t listening too. It was enough. I removed her from all social media, and told her that I couldn’t do it anymore. It’s been a couple months. I hope she’s doing better, because I’m certainly doing better without all the negativity in my life.
17. Unquestionable support
Some people I know have a very loyal group of friends and it drives me insane and I really want to keep my distance from that bunch.
Because I know what happens if any of their friends once criticizes them – they are able to cut off friendship altogether at once because of that.
Most of my friends tell each other harsh criticism and insult each other all the time and I think we have much more trust in each other because of that.
18. Zero responsibility
A refusal to accept responsibility for anything.
No matter how small the conflict is, it is never their fault.
Doesn’t necessarily have to blame you every time
19. How do you react?
It’s not always what they do. It’s often times how you react to what they do.
When you start overlooking red flags because you really like someone it’s important to recognize it and allow yourself to make a rational decision.
So many non obvious red flags happen because we don’t want to see them. We are happy and don’t want to believe them.
But it’s better to be rational early then realize your stuck later on.
20. You only see them when they need something
People who only come around only when they need something. I like the call them “friends of convenience”.
Like for example if the car broke down, I’d hear from them. Pipes bursted and water is all over the floor? Ring ring. I kinda took note of those kind of people and just ignored them after a time.
21. The cold shoulder
I guess this might be a little obvious, but if they do something wrong and end up giving you the cold shoulder because you get mad at them for it, and you end up being the one to mend the bridge even though they were the one who did something wrong… yeah that’s a bad sign.
22. When they constantly interrupt you
We all interrupt sometimes, but when it’s frequent and one is unable to finish even a story, opinion, or train of thought then it’s pretty obvious that friend is not interested in you, not really.
23. Always tearing folks down
If they’re always talking s**t about mutual acquaintances, you can be pretty sure they talk s**t about you too when you’re not around.
Similarly, if they’ve had big fallouts with lots of past friends or they’ve had an unusually high number of “best” friends.
24. Pointless arguments
You always come put of an argument feeling exhausted and nothing was really solved
This CAN be obvious, but it’s also easy to write off as the conversation not working out. Getting to the root of the problem is important, the people who fight against that are generally going to be pretty toxic, whether they mean to be or not
25. Consistent exclusion
They have another group of friends you’re never invited to hang out with even though you invite them to hang out with your other friend groups.
– [deleted user]
26. Ignoring advice
Asking for advice then telling you what they’ve decided in the same convo… they’ve already made up their minds, why not just start with that instead of going through the hoops of a discussion?
27. Not embracing change
When you make positive life changes and they say things like “you didn’t used to be like that”
this is what a now ex friend said to me after I told her I had stopped drinking. I realized how much better I felt physically and mentally and loved that I was saving so much money. later in the convo she said we should go get bottomless mimosas…not to mention this friend was on the receiving end of some of my outbursts and said that her last birthday “was a disaster” when the only disastrous thing that happened was me storming out because I had reached my alcohol and social limit and was going to head out, and she tried to make me stay because everyone was Sharing Uber’s home within the hour. It was already past midnight.
– [deleted user]
28. Major FOMO
I had a friend that’s a year and a half younger than me.
She asked me if I was sad that I wasn’t married with kids yet… then told me I shouldn’t get married or have kids before she does.
She would also go out with friends that she met through me… without inviting me.
I guess she had major FOMO and always needed to one-up me.
Them flags are lookin’ mighty red.
But what about you? Do you have anything you would add to this list?
Tell us in the comments.