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How to Know if a Friendship is No Longer Serving You

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I recently listened to an episode of Emma Chamberlain’s Anything Goes podcast called “friendships”, and it inspired me to think more deeply about my friendships and to think of them as more complex than I used to. 

Chamberlain points out in this episode that the conversation around what makes a good friendship is vague and unhelpful. People usually think through their romantic relationships in critical ways and analyze them very deeply, but neglect the complexities of a friendship. They don’t think about how much they can affect one’s life, specifically one’s lifestyle and mental health. 

Whether you have just a couple friends, a giant friend group or a small one, your friendships are supposed to serve you in positive ways. A friendship is an exchange — an exchange of skills, perspectives, emotions, compassion, virtues, etc. If you have an ideal friend, you learn from each other and teach each other valuable lessons. You may struggle together, but at the end of the day you are there for each other for the good, the bad and the inbetween. 

In an ideal friendship, there is no toxicity, competition, neglect or betrayal. 

But it is really hard to find the perfect friend. Everyone gets jealous, competitive, negative or resentful sometimes. It’s really hard to avoid those emotions in a close friendship. Everyone goes through ups and downs in relationships, but if you start to notice that you more often feel bad than good with a friend, it might be time to sit down and think about whether this person and this friendship serves you. 

So in my opinion (and drawing inspiration from Emma Chamberlain’s podcast episode), here is a list of some signs that your friendship may no longer serve you. 

  1. There is a consistent sense of competition.

If you feel like you’re always competing with your friend (whether it’s through school, boyfriends, other friends, career, physical appearance or any other achievements), this is a toxic trait that is not necessary to have in a friendship (or in any relationship for that matter). If you feel like you have to compete, or they’re competing with you, that is not a healthy exchange of energy. 

Friends should be excited for each other’s achievements. If you accomplish something, you should be excited to talk about it with a friend and not be worried about bringing them down. You should not have any motivation to one-up them or make them feel lesser-than. If you get the sense that your motivations to talk to your friend about your achievements aren’t genuine, or you feel that your friend’s motivations aren’t genuine, it might be good to think this friendship through. Talk to them about how you feel, and be honest. Or, if you feel that your friend is the only competitive one and they aren’t changing their mindset, then it’s time to walk away. 

  1. There is a lack of trust.  

The true foundation of any relationship is trust. If you don’t have any at all, it’s hard to remain in that relationship and feel content or fulfilled. 

If you feel like you can’t be vulnerable with your friend because they might turn around and use that vulnerability against you, it’s time to take a step back. 

If you are worried they will tell your secrets, hook up with your ex or talk shit about you to your other friends, these are all signs of an intense lack of trust. 

  1. They don’t inspire you anymore.

Emma Chamberlain explained this beautifully — friends often inspire or intrigue each other. If you aren’t inspired by your friend at all and they don’t seem to offer anything to you, or you don’t seem to offer anything to them, then there may be a significant lack of excitement in this friendship. 

  1. Your values don’t align.

If you find that you are constantly disagreeing with your friends’ decisions or actions and you feel yourself judging them often (or vice versa), then this is quite a questionable hurdle to get over.

Discuss your values with your friend. Discuss why you disagree with your friend, without judgment. 

If you feel that your values inherently have changed, no longer align and won’t align in the future, then bye-bye!  

  1. You’re scared to confront them (or they’re too scared to confront you)

Friends need to call each other out on their sh*t, especially when they’re not being themselves. If you catch your friend falling into a bad place, are not acting like their authentic selves or are making a really bad choice and you’re too afraid to bring it up… that’s a problem! 

Friends shouldn’t be scared of each other. 

Yeah, maybe it’s healthy and normal to be scared of telling your mom they did something wrong, or your boss at work – but not your friend.

And if you ever feel that your friends are scared or intimidated by you, take it upon yourself to ask them why it seems that way, and see what you can do to change that dynamic. 

  1. There is an uneven exchange of care or effort. 

Do you have that one friend that never makes plans with you or always cancels, but the one time that they are free you’ll clear your schedule because you love them too much and you know that this will be your one chance to see them for a while?

This shows that you might care too deeply about your friendship with this person to stand up for yourself or let go, because you know that the minute you stop giving effort… the friendship will just wither away. 

But what does that say about the other person? It shows that they’re willing to give you up, because they’re giving you the opportunity to. 

It’s not worth your time and energy clearing your schedule for someone you know would never do the same, even if they do care about you to some degree. 

  1. There’s a lot of drama. 

We all have that friend that likes to stir the pot, start an argument or just cries a lot. Sometimes this friend can be very entertaining; there’s always a story to tell after a night out with them. But at what point does the drama get exhausting rather than interesting?

Just some food for thought. 

There’s a lot to unpack here, and obviously every friendship has a flaw. But if you’re reading this and notice you can count on two hands how many toxic traits there are within your friendship with someone, maybe contemplate whether this person really serves a good purpose in your life at this time.

Hello! I am a Senior English major at LMU. I enjoy writing about topics ranging from health and wellness, fashion and film to social justice issues.
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