6 Sad Signs of An Unhealthy Friendship & 4 Ways to Tell a Good One

By Reniel


Last Updated: December 6, 2021

Sometimes we are caught up in the dilemma of determining who we should offer help to. This is especially true when it involves a friend who supposedly hasn't been of any help to us and an acquaintance who had helped us in a difficult situation.  

But when questions like this come to mind, one can't help but wonder, is the person in question our friend? Isn’t the person who helped us when we were in need more deserving of the title, “friend”, rather than the other person we’ve known for a while? 

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a friend as, "a person who HELPS or SUPPORTS someone or something."

A friend is someone who we know and can trust. We expect them to be there for us at all times, therefore they would also expect us to be there for them in their time of need. 

Friendship runs way beyond sharing a bottle of drink and going on luxury vacations together. The real essence of a friendship is to support and help each member of the relationship. 

Unfortunately, the word "friendship" has been misunderstood in recent times, and every acquaintance is now regarded as a friend. 

A friend who cannot help in a time of need (especially when he/she is capable of helping) is not really a friend. And such relationships should be considered unhealthy.    

In order to make things clearer, let’s examine what a "good" and a "fake" friend really look like.


4 Ways to Know You Have a Good Friend

1. Supportiveness

When you are passing through difficult times, it is always comforting to know that you have someone who stands right by you all through that time.

Good friends are always supportive and always ready to help in whatever capacity that they can. They are there for you no matter what.   

2. Trustworthiness

Being trustworthy is an important trait for a good friend.

During times of difficulty, friends need others with who they can confide and are sure that their secrets are safe with them. When a friend can not keep your information private, then that's a red flag! 

3. Honesty

A good friend is totally honest and open.

They don't lie or try to manipulate you in order to get you to do what they want. Keeping things from a friend or doing things behind their back that they may later find out about is not a quality of a good friend. 

4. No Judgment

It is important to have someone who accepts you, loves you the way you are, and doesn't judge you.

They may not agree with your decision or actions all the time, but they honestly air their opinions or thoughts respectfully.  

Being in a healthy friendship requires trust, honesty, and equal participation and contributions from both parties, or else it becomes one-sided, and consequently unhealthy.


6 Signs Of An Unhealthy Friendship

1. Stress And Fear

If you dread being around them, and are always watchful of what you say or do to avoid triggering them or having them start another drama; then you might be in an unhealthy friendship.

Friendship is there to help you relax and drop your defenses, not make you stressed and fearful. 

2. Mistrust

If you fear your friends might betray you – so that you keep secrets from them, or fear they are keeping secrets from you – you might be in an unhealthy friendship.

You should be able to know (or at least understand) your friends enough to know that they would act in your best interest, whether you are around or not.  

3. Isolation

If you feel a deep sense of isolation instead of companionship in the relationship, it might be a sign your friendship is fake.

Maybe they don’t visit, or there is always an excuse when you need their company.

4. Lack of Support

If a friend won’t help you in times of need, especially when they are capable of doing so, it is a red flag.

You should be able to go out of your way for friends and also get that from them in return.

5. Lack of Boundaries

If friends do not know when to stop – if they keep intruding into your private and family affairs – like setting up dates, applying for jobs, talking to your spouse on your behalf, or setting you up for something you are not ready for or are always demanding you do their “duty” for them, then the friendship might be toxic.

6. Jealousy

If your friend(s) sees you as a competition, and would rather win than see you win then it is a red flag.

Friends should cheer you on when you succeed, not get jealous or bitter.

4 Things a Real Friend Won't Do


How Do You Deal With Unrequited Friendship?

 “My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” – Mitch Hedberg

A lot of unhealthy relationships – included unrequited friendships – persist because we keep fueling them.

We need to constantly remind ourselves that it is okay to move on in a friendship that has become parasitic instead of mutual. 

When relationships become parasitic or one-sided, and the person on the giving side fails to identify that the lifespan of the union has long overdue, they suffer the brunt of the failed friendship. 

It is important we identify a friendship that is dying, and amicably end it before it comes toxic. 

Most people fail to recognize this, hence they hold on to relationships that are long dead, and then they feel used, betrayed, or neglected. 

If someone is truly your friend, then they are also your helpers (at least when the ball is in their court), hence helping a friend isn't a matter of choice, it's the very core of the entire relationship, it is the heartbeat of friendship, and it is the foundation of the friendship.        

Photo by Trinity Kubassek from Pexels


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