4 Things Real Friends Won't Do

By Georgia


Last Updated: July 23, 2021

When we're young our friend group is largely decided for us. We can't control who lives in our neighborhood, which classmates we sit next to, or which teammates we play sports or do other activities with. It really comes down to proximity and circumstance. But as we get older and acquire more control we can start to be selective about who we let into our lives. Many of us find ourselves fading away from close childhood friendships, reevaluating teen associations, and outright ending adult relationships that no longer serve or fulfill us, or turn out to be toxic. 

It can take some of us decades before we really understand what friendships are and how to navigate and maintain healthy ones. There are so many things great friends do that poor excuses for friends don't. And of course every person can have an individual definition of friendship and create their own requirements that work for them. Some people are more high maintenance and have expectations that are out of control. Others ask for very little and may receive as much. But it's important to know what you need in a friendship and what you will and won't allow. So here are 4 things real friends won't do.


  1. Drag You Down

Anyone can go through a rough patch or get into trouble at one point or another in their life. But that doesn't mean you need to get sucked into their downward spiral or that you can swallow others in your vortex of drama. Real friends don't drag you down with them or let you drag them down. It's fine to lend a helping hand and open your heart, home or wallet to a friend in need. But you can't become responsible for them and save them from their own bad decisions. A good friend will offer guidance and support in an emergency but won't jeopardize their own quality of life, support system or safety to help someone who won't help themselves.


  1. Assume the Worst

People talk. There's no getting around that. But as they say, “A lie goes half way around the world before the truth gets out of bed.” So if there's a rumor circulating and your friend group gets wind of some less than flattering news about you, true friends won't assume the worst. If someone in your life doesn't give you the benefit of the doubt, or questions your integrity when you deny the lie, you know you're not dealing with a real friend. Everyone makes mistakes and we all have skeletons in our closets, but real friends think the best of us and will instinctively defend our character until we tell them otherwise.


  1. Let You Lie

Sometimes there are good reasons to lie; to protect your safety, to stay in good legal standing, to avoid targeted attacks from unscrupulous people, etc. But most of the time lies are self-serving and self-centered. No one likes to feel judged by the people in their lives, and it is unfair for someone to hold other people to their impossibly high moral code. But basic expectations of decency and reasonable ethical standards are not too much to ask for in a friend. And real friends won't let you lie about your misdeeds or mistakes to others or yourself.

True friends will hold you accountable for your actions, and may even go so far as not letting you escape the consequences of your malicious or dangerous behavior. They won't let you lie to other people about what you did and won't let you lie to yourself and live in denial. A real friend will hold up a mirror and make you look at yourself so you can see who you really are. Then you can accept reality and make the effort to change and become a better you.


  1. Help You Hurt 

Good people don't want to see anyone hurt, if they can help it. So a good friend won't let you hurt yourself or others. Outside of someone's morals, values or ethics, hurting other people can cause a lot of problems in life. Real friends would want to help keep you out of legal trouble and away from unnecessary drama. Practically speaking, keeping your nose clean means an easier life for everyone in it. And of course a real friend wouldn't help you harm yourself. In practice this may not seem like it at the time, as self-harm can take many forms and support can look like punishment to someone who is causing themselves pain.


Everyone needs good friends. There's nothing like a solid support group that picks you up when you're down and you can rely on to keep you in check. They don't overstep and know they can't control you, but real friends won't, or at least will try not to, let you mess up too much. However, if you insist on self-destructing they won't stick around to witness it. A true friend will understand the reasons and circumstances behind some bad behaviors but they won't make excuses for you. So show some appreciation for those real ones who make you better and let go of anyone who lets you be less than.


Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash


8 comments on “4 Things Real Friends Won't Do”

  1. When my life changed in these last ten or more years. My thoughts and knowings changed. I handle everyone accordingly to what I get from them. I don't call them negative thoughts I call them facts and I live by them.

  2. Reality check indeed, well written and yes, embrace the people that hold the mirror in front of you so you may stare at yourself straight up.

  3. My most important rule for friendship is to never be intentionally inconsiderate. As friendships grow, experiences together do one of two things. They either bring us closer or reach their limit. If I communicate a certain behavior that hurts me in some way, I expect a true friend to refrain from that behavior. If it continues, I interpret the act as intentional inconsideration. The first time I give the benefit of my doubt. If there is next time I see it as personal disrespect and/or insult. I instinctively and sadly measure our friendship from this point. It is how I know we have reached our trust limit and stopped our relationship from growing further.

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