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  1. Communication  

Communication is KEY in every type of relationship. If you can’t communicate effectively, all will be lost, trust me. In a friendship, you need someone you can trust and a friendly check-in to see how you are doing. Good friends make plans with you – I’m not saying it must be every day, all the time, but if someone wants to be around you, they will make the conscious effort to make it happen. No flakiness, no bailing, no last-minute arrangements (because they are suddenly free). They must value your time and commitments, not just say they want to meet up or call, and never hear from them.  

  1. Invalidates You  

Friends do not invalidate your feelings, actions, and experiences. Gaslighting is not healthy in any form of relationship, and nobody should be telling you how to feel or that the way you do is wrong. No ‘you are being too sensitive’, ‘don’t be silly’, ‘you’re stupid for thinking that’.  

Friends should be understanding – and if you aren’t, realise that and be there for your friends. Be caring and make your friends know the way they feel is valid, they are important and are appreciated the way they are.  

  1. Make fun of your interests  

Everyone has things they like to do, their hobbies, their passions. Real friends don’t make fun of them. They encourage you to pursue your dreams, they cheer you on when you indulge in your passions, they might even take on the same hobby as you and become interested in the same thing! Nobody will have the same interests, but a big red flag is your friend making fun of you for enjoying what you like to do.  

  1. Competitiveness in Success  

There is a time and a place to be competitive and friendship is not one of them. Be happy for your friends’ success – don’t compete with them. Recognise their achievements, congratulate them, celebrate with them! Don’t be jealous or compare your successes, don’t make people feel bad for their successes or dump your (apparently better) success when your friend is trying to celebrate theirs. There is a time and a place, leave it for things like a round of Mario Kart. 

  1. Everything is about them  

Everyone likes to talk about themselves – it is the one thing we know inside and out. But in a friendship, it should not be one-sided. It shouldn’t be one person talking, one person being in control, one person constantly running around to make the other person happy. We all have our own lives, our own issues and a friendship takes two to tango. Let your friend rant, then you can rant back. Keep helping each other out. Show you care about them

  1. Makes you feel bad about yourself 

One major red flag is people who make you feel bad about yourself. The people that are patronising and make you feel stupid for not knowing that one little thing (when they could just explain it to you). The people that give you backhanded compliments and you wonder why the backhanded part needed to be part of the compliment. The people who make fun of the way you dress or look. 

This also goes along with people who do this in front of other people to make themselves look better or to try and ‘be funny’. Real friends do not bring up your insecurities in front of other people, put you down to boost their ego or embarrass you ‘for fun’. Don’t get me wrong, I get it can be banter sometimes and this does not go for every situation – but a real friend knows when to stop and when it is okay to do so. 

  1. Empty Apologies 

When I get repetitive apologies with no change of action, I’d rather not hear the apology at all. It starts to lose meaning and illustrates the lack of understanding of why this person is apologising if they are constantly doing it. A real apology has no ‘buts’, they take responsibility, and they actively want to improve on fixing whatever the issue is. This also means not shifting the blame to the person they are apologising to or victimising themselves. 

‘I’m sorry, I now understand why you feel that way and will try to change my behaviour’. 

Simple. 

  1. Oversteps Boundaries 

Everybody has the line. The line that once it’s crossed, it’s difficult to get that person back on the right side of the line. If someone constantly oversteps your boundaries, that is a red flag. It means they don’t respect you as a person because they feel they can keep pushing, they can use you and walk all over you. A boundary is set for a reason (whether it’s actively told or not) and they should be respected as a person should. 

  1. Makes you second choice  

A friend should never make you feel less than or make you feel like a second choice. A red flag is if a friend bails on you for someone else – a better option. They prioritise fun over you, they choose what they think will make their life better in that short period of time, such as drugs and alcohol, and make you feel like the second choice and unworthy of their time. Real friends commit and they do what they say they will do. There are exceptions – things come up. But if someone is flying between different groups and you are never the one that is chosen in the end? Red flag. 

  1. Never listens or tries to understand you 

A big red flag is if your friend doesn’t listen to you or interrupts you. A conversation goes both ways, and it is almost impossible to have a conversation without at least one butt-in (especially the juicy ones). But if they never listen to you or try to understand what you are trying to say to them, if they can’t empathise with your feelings or even try to put themselves in your shoes, they aren’t a keeper. You might as well talk to a wall. 

  1. The Fake  

Most people know the concept where we have different faces for different people (or maybe types of people). You have one where you are most comfortable, where you are the only one that ever sees, the one for your family and the one for your friends. I believe sometimes you can also have different faces for different people in your life, but it shouldn’t be so drastic that it’s fake. 

When you know someone super well, and they act like a completely different person when you are both around different people, it does make you wonder why they act and treat you the way they do. People’s morals shouldn’t change; whilst we have different faces, most of our characteristics and personalities should be intact. 

  1. Possessiveness 

Possessive friends are not ones you want to keep around. Everyone has their own life to live, their own people, their own ideals. You can’t strip someone away from that. Some people, however, get jealous when you speak to other friends, a different group. They want you to ditch your friends because they aren’t good enough or because they act a certain way. Friends shouldn’t get jealous of who else you speak to, you are allowed more than one friend, one group. You don’t have to like them; you don’t have to hang out with them, but understand you have friends in different places, and that does not make your friendship with them, any less significant. 

  1. Safety First 

A big red flag in a friendship is if they don’t care a damn about your safety. Friends check up on each other, make sure they get home safe, make sure they are nowhere near that creep that keeps following them everywhere. They don’t leave you through the tough times but support you through the meltdowns. If they don’t care about your safety, they don’t care about you at all. 

Fourth year Business Management and Psychology student
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