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Am I a Bad Friend? 16 Bad Friendship Skills that Push People Away

If you are asking yourself, ‘am I a bad friend,’ there is probably a good reason. So, read on to see if you really do regularly disappoint your friends.

am i a bad friend

The fact you are reading this tells us that you’re asking ‘am I a bad friend?’ because something has happened with a pal, you’re finding your friendship pool dwindling, or you’re a little paranoid about your friendship skills. Whatever the reason, we could all do with checking in on our friendship prowess from time to time.

Life is constantly shifting and changing, and our lives don’t always run in tandem with those around us. Friends get married, have children, move away, go to college, enter relationships, meet new friends, and these can all upset the delicate balance within your own friendship. 

Equally, it’s super-easy to become so self-absorbed with everything going on in your own life, that you forget to add a little TLC to the important friendships in your life.

Are you just losing friends or are you really a bad friend?

It’s not something to feel bad about, because it’s normal and it happens to everyone from time to time. The fact you’re asking yourself ‘am I a bad friend?’ means that you care enough to make changes if need be. That’s a sign of a good friend in so many ways. [Read: Losing a friend? 30 ways to face the pain of friendship drifting away]

The thing is, nobody is perfect, and that means that nobody is a perfect friend either. Many people pride themselves on being a good friend. Sometimes they are guilty of letting friendships slide a little while figuring something out in their own lives.

And if that’s you, then you should be okay with that, because your friends probably understand. And on occasion, they might even do the same thing. You regroup when the dust has settled, but you’re there for each other in the meantime, either visibly or virtually.

If you’re nodding at the above scenario, that doesn’t make you a bad friend. That makes you normal. 

What we do need to think about however is a few traits that can sometimes creep into our lives, which can make us temporary bad friends from time to time. We’ve all done it, but rectifying it is key. [Read: 30 sad signs of a bad friend that’ll make you lose faith in humanity]

The traits of a good friend that set them apart

Before we get onto the bad stuff, we want to be positive first. So, here are the most important traits of a good friend first of all.

– Trustworthy

– Honest

– Open

– Fun to be around

– Supportive

– A good listener

You’re all of those things, right? Of course, you are! But, here is the bad news, there are likely to be negative traits within you that could make you an occasional bad friend. [Read: How to be a good friend and traits to follow – 49 friend codes that make all the difference]

Am I a bad friend? The biggest signs you’re heading towards bad friend territory

Don’t panic! We all have them, and your friends probably have them too! What you need to make sure is that you don’t allow the negative to tip the scales of balance, from good to bad. [Read: How to be a good friend – 49 friend code all BFFs MUST follow]

1. You spill the gossip

Trust is an essential part of any friendship, and if someone tells you something, you need to avoid repeating it, even if it is the juiciest morsel of knowledge you’ve ever heard in your life.

If you have found yourself repeating things that have been said to you in private, you’re edging your way towards bad friend central.

2. You judge people

You need to accept your friends for who and what they are and don’t make judgments. Of course, they shouldn’t judge you either, as this is a two-way street.

You’re allowed to have opinions, but don’t voice them if you know it’s going to upset someone. [Read: How to be less critical of the people around you]

3. You regularly bail on plans

Look, we understand, life is busy and difficult sometimes, and it’s easy to forget plans or need to cancel them at the last minute. Friends understand this occasionally, but when it starts to become a habit, you’re going to start losing friends equally as fast. 

Make time for friends, even if it’s just a coffee during lunch because any time spent is better than no time. Remember your priorities! [Read: All the reasons why people ditch flaky friends]

4. You are not ‘in the moment” 

Are you always on your phone? Are you always checking your social media feed? If you’re asking ‘am I a bad friend’ and you can say ‘yes’ to the first two questions, then you could be edging that way.

Nobody wants to spend time with someone who isn’t in the moment or present. You might be updating everyone on your virtual life on Facebook, but what about the person sitting in front of you?

5. You turn things into a competition

Life isn’t a race, and milestones come for everyone at different times in their lives. For instance, your friend might have been married first, before you even got a boyfriend, but so what? 

We all have different priorities. If you are constantly making your friendships about competition, e.g. who has what, who did what first, then you need to reassess your actions.

6. You drop your friend when you’re dating

When you first start dating someone new, it’s all exciting and you want to spend every second of the day with them, that’s understandable.

What about if something goes wrong? You’ll have cut off your friendships by not spending time with them and then you’re left alone.

How would you feel if your friends did the same thing to you? They will understand to a degree that you’re not spending as much time together but do not drop your friends entirely. You’re a bad friend if you do. [Read: How much time should couples spend together? The must-know answers]

7. You never just listen

A key part of friendship is listening to someone when they need an ear. Do you ever just sit and listen? Let your friend talk it all out until they feel better?

If you don’t, or if you find it hard to keep your opinions to yourself, you could be edging into bad friend territory.

Friendship should be about support, and of course, that means giving advice, but it also means just letting someone offload if they need to, without judgment, without lecturing.

8. You borrow *money or clothes* and don’t return it

Are you always borrowing things and not giving them back? We all do this occasionally, but we’re talking about doing it a lot of the time. For instance, are you always borrowing a little money here and there but you never really give it back to your friend?

 Do you borrow clothes and they end up living in your wardrobe and not going back where they belong? You’re lacking in basic friendship respect if you do this, so sort it out!

9. Everything is usually your way

When you meet up with your friends, are you the one who decides where to go? Are you the one who decides when to meet? If so, ask yourself whether this is them letting you take the lead genuinely, or whether it’s because you are always the one in control for other reasons. 

Friendship is about give and take, and finding out whether or not you’re a good friend is about asking if you allow others to make decisions about your regular meet-ups. [Read: 18 habits that build friendships that last a lifetime]

10. You only talk about yourself

Newsflash here – everyone has problems. And who best to talk about their problems than with their friends? Maybe if we could afford a therapist, that would be better. But some problems aren’t big enough for that. You just want to vent to your friends.

So, if you find that 95% of the time you are with your friends you are only talking about yourself, then that is a sign of a bad friend.

11. You’re always late

We all know the person who can never show up anywhere on time. They will always have excuses from “I was just born this way” to “I lost track of time” or “I was on the phone with my mom.”

Regardless of the excuse, some people are just chronically late. And it’s bad enough if it’s five or ten minutes, but some people are regularly an hour or more late. [Read: 27 secret signs of narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

This is incredibly disrespectful to your friends. Think about it. Would you like to wait in a restaurant all by yourself waiting for a friend to show up? No – of course not! 

You could be doing something else more productive with your life. So, if you are wasting your friends’ time by always being late, then that is not a good friend.

12. You lie

There is a big difference between a little white lie and a big one. A white lie is “I think those jeans look great on you” when they really don’t. But if you are finding that you lie to your friends a lot, then this is a problem.

It could be a lie of why you can’t go out with them one evening, or it could be a lie that you are talking to their boyfriend behind their back. Either way, a lie is a lie. And no one likes a liar. [Read: Types of liars – 14 ways to confront them and not lose your cool]

13. You can’t be counted on

If a friend of yours needs to move, you might be the last person that they call because they know you won’t be there for them. They know you will always find something better to do, or that “something will come up” at the last minute.

Or, maybe one of your friends is sick or even in the hospital, can they count on you to come to visit and bring them chicken soup or go get their medicine for them? If they can’t, then that is not a good friend. 

14. You are a drama queen *or king*

If you always overreact about everything, then that is mentally and emotionally exhausting for your friends. Sure, it’s important to share big news and to talk and work through it. But if you are always having soap operas after soap operas in your life, then your friends are going to get sick of it.

We call these types of people “energy vampires” because they suck the life out of you. People leave you feeling drained and unhappy, instead of uplifted. So, if you’re a drama queen, that might be why some of your friends aren’t so happy with you. [Read: Attention seeking behavior and why some people go looking for drama]

15. You don’t accept apologies or forgive

No one is perfect – we all make mistakes. So, let’s say that one of your friends did something you didn’t like by accident. You make a big deal about it, and they apologize.

That should be the end of it. Life should go on.

But if you are the type of person who holds grudges and doesn’t accept their apologies and forgive them, then that’s not a good friend. You aren’t perfect either, so don’t you want people to forgive you for your mistakes? [Read: How to be a good person and 39 ways to transform into a better human being]

16. You can’t commit to plans

If one of your friends is dying to see a certain band coming to town this summer and asks you to go, you can’t give them a definite answer or commit to buying a ticket. By the time you do, they are all sold out.

Or, it could be that you can’t even commit to plans tomorrow until the last minute. This sends this message to your friends, “I’m waiting for something better to come up before I commit to you.” This is very disrespectful to everyone if you do this.

Are you a bad friend? Now you should know the truth

These are the ways to answer the question of ‘am I a bad friend?’. Remember, we all have moments where we’re less present or in the friendship than others, but the overall theme has to be that you’re there for your friends no matter what, without back chat, without judgment, and without question.

[Read: Are you a user? 15 uncomfortable facts to help you face the truth]

While you’re figuring out the answer to your question, ‘am I a bad friend?’, you should also think about the friendships in your life and explore whether or not they are exhibiting these bad traits too. Remember, friendships are about give and take, and everything has to be a two-way street. This works for the friends around you too.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...