• Yasmin Al-Najar

The top 5 signs of a healthy and unhealthy friendship

Friendships really do have a large impact on your personhood and so it is important to keep the company of good people.

Healthy friendships nurture your growth as an individual and good friends support you, lift up your spirits and love you unconditionally. Unhealthy friendships are the complete opposite. They come with conditions, cause you to feel self-doubt, constrain your growth as an individual and even make you feel lonely.

Here are the top 5 signs of a healthy and unhealthy friendship:

How you both handle disagreements

Just because you have disagreements does not mean that your friendship is unhealthy, rather it is the way you both handle disagreements that can determine whether you have a healthy or unhealthy dynamic. A good sign is that you communicate your feelings to one another. You or your friend may have not even realised that you upset the other and so it is always best to make it clear how you feel. The next good sign is that a genuine apology is given and there is an effort to make sure that the mistake is not repeated.

Any phrases like “you’re over-reacting” or “you’re too sensitive” are red flags. These phrases are often used to gaslight you into thinking that you are too sensitive or you are over-reacting and so they make you believe that you are the problem. Deflecting any accountability for their actions is a major red flag.

Content of conversations

What you both talk about can also be a sign of a healthy or unhealthy friendship. If your friend is constantly gossiping about someone else to you, chances are they wouldn’t think twice about doing the same to you with someone else. Of course friends share their frustrations with one another to relieve stress or seek advice but this is not the same as gossiping.

A sign that someone wishes to resolve an issue is that they will communicate their feelings to the person they have grievances with. A huge thing I learnt is that someone who tells the whole world their issue with someone but doesn’t bother to communicate with the person they have a problem with is looking for drama, not a solution.

You can grow separately without growing apart

One of the greatest feelings in the world is when you meet up with your friends after a while and it feels like you can just pick up from where you left off. Especially during our current situation with the pandemic it’s important to have a healthy balance of staying connected with loved ones but also allowing one another space for “me time”. Last year certainly put friendships to the test in this way. A sign of being in a friendship with a toxic person is when they expect you to devote all of your attention to them and hold a grudge for you not reaching out.

Celebrating your achievements v.s. seeing you as competition

Being happy to see one another prosper in any aspect of life is a good sign of a healthy friendship. On the flipside, an unhealthy friendship would be where the other person sees you as competition more than they do as a friend and is jealous of your accomplishments. This jealousy is often accompanied by belittling your achievements and bragging about what they have that you do not have.

I have had plenty first-hand experience with this one. My “friend” would have a habit of asking me of my assignment grades and when I asked for her to tell me hers first she always refused. Every time it was the same scenario. If my grade was higher than hers she wouldn’t tell me her result or she’d just brag about how she didn’t revise and didn’t care anyway, and if my grade was lower than hers her eyes would beam before she blurted “ha I’m higher than you”. She even got angry when I won something in a competition, yelling at me before I even knew I had won “why the hell did you get picked and not me?”

This is only two examples of many others. She saw everything as a competition. Friendship, grades, money, knowledge. People can become so obsessed with competing with you that you become an enemy when you are doing better than them, and you are only a friend when in their eyes you are “lower” than them.

That is not a friend. That is a bully, and I learnt the hard way by putting up with it for so long. I ask you not to do the same. When you notice any of these toxic traits I have mentioned and things don’t change run as fast as Roadrunner does away from the coyote.

Respecting your other friendships

Good friends will respect your other friendships.

A toxic sign that you should never let slip under the radar is that they isolate you from your other friends by either dragging you away from them or them away from you. A good friend will be happy to see you happy with your other friends. Of course you cannot force everyone to get along, but just because your friend is not friends with your other friends doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with them. Those who ask you to choose between friends have already given you your answer.

I remember once reading “friends are the family you choose”. It is very true. Friendships are one of the most beautiful and purest things the world has to offer. As an only child my friends are like the siblings I never had. Good friendships will always nurture you, make you feel good and are the hand that lifts you up when you are down. Toxic friendships are the foot that kicks you. Sometimes when you are in that kind of friendship it is hard to distinguish between hand and foot, but if something doesn’t feel right trust your gut. Someone once told me “we can become the people we keep the company of”. With that in mind ask yourself if you’re okay with that or if this bothers you and that will give you a direction as to whether it is a sustainable friendship.

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