5 Signs Your Bestie’s Got Your Back
Does your friendship support your well-being or do you have a poison pal?
“Reminder: There are many who do not realize that in order to have a good friend, one must be a good friend. It’s a two-way street,” wrote author Gloria Mallette in a recent Facebook post.
“In healthy friendships we’re asking for what we need but we’re also weighing what our friends need. It’s collaborative and it’s mutual. Both of us want the best for both of us,” states psychologist and friendship expert Dr. Marisa G. Franco, author of Platonic: The Surprising New Science of Making — and Keeping — Friends as an Adult. Something essential to a healthy friendship, adds Franco, who writes about topics of friendship on her website DrMarisaGFranco.com, is what she calls perspective taking, “which means that you’re considering your friend’s experience and your own experience,” in growing and nurturing your friendship.
Studies show that friend relationships are as important as family, as well as important to our well-being, especially as time goes on. But not all friendships are necessarily healthy. How can you tell if a friendship is good for you?
They are interested in you and accept you for who you are
A good friend accepts you as you are. However, that friend is also able to tactfully tell you when something might be harmful or detrimental to you because they truly care about you. “Another thing that I think is key for healthy friendships,” Franco believes, “is this idea of identity affirmation, which is basically that you affirm your friend for the person they want to be rather than the person you want them to be.”
Your interactions are reciprocal
Sometimes people are more interested in what you can do for them or how you make them feel so they can get a boost of confidence. But as the Mallette quote reflects, it’s a two-way street. When a friendship is reciprocal, states Franco, “Both people are invested in it and that allows us to have expectations because the other person can have expectations of us, too.” Without reciprocity the relationship is less likely to be sustained, she warns. “Expectations become more one-sided, which just makes a relationship more fragile.”
Your friend is your biggest cheerleader
Another sign that a friendship is healthy is “if we’re rooting for each other’s success,” says Franco. “You get a new job, get a promotion, find a new relationship you’re happy in and I’m excited for you. I’m happy for you. I don’t try to tear you down or bring you down. Research finds that’s even more important than people showing up for us when we’re sad.”
Your friend shows up for you
Good friends are there for you, and check in on you, in good times and bad times. They are good listeners, have empathy and are dependable. Ask yourself, “Do friends show up in times of need when we need support?” Franco advises. “People actually rate that as one of the most critical aspects of friendships — that their friends will show up for them when they need support.”
Your friend is trustworthy and a true confidante
You can trust friends and confide in them without fear of rebuke or betrayal. You should also be able to talk to them about any issues that come up in your friendship. You can be honest and vulnerable and be yourself without fear of judgment.
6 Signs a Pal May Poison Your Happiness
They only call or get in touch when they need something
They used to be called fair-weather friends — only there when the weather is warm and sunny, not gray and stormy. They’re not engaging in what Franco calls perspective taking, i.e., considering a friend’s perspective and experiences. “They’re only thinking of themselves and their needs.”
Your friend doesn’t seem to care about you
Ask yourself, writes Franco on her website: Do they show an interest in me? Do they listen to you or interrupt and only discuss themselves? Does it seem like they never care about your problems or dismiss them as irrelevant?
You don’t like who you are around them
This is another thing Franco suggests one should think about. I once had a friend who, I realized, never seemed to have a positive thing to say about anyone and could never seem to be truly happy for others’ success. It started rubbing off on me, making me as distrustful and pessimistic. My personality was negatively altered in that person’s presence, and I didn’t like the person I started to become.
They compete with you and put you down
This kind of person only blocks your blessings. This friend is envious, unsupportive and never praises your victories. “When people just start tearing down their friend, they’re saying, ‘You’re not that great. I don’t think you deserve that.’ They’re just being openly malicious,” says Franco. “That’s something that we certainly should not accept in friendships — friends who tear you down. They’re not happy for your success or are not rooting for you to succeed.”
Your friend ghosts you
“In unhealthy friendships, a friend will sort of leave their friends when they get romantic partners,” says Franco. “The relationship becomes less reciprocal and that can happen during phases of friendships. It depends on the degree, like if your friend is not even responding to you anymore. That’s another quality of an unhealthy friendship — when friends ghost or withdraw and they don’t address problems.”
Your friend’s behavior is “extra”
To assess whether a friendship is working, Franco says to ask yourself: “Do I typically feel energized or deflated by their company?” You know the signs — after you talk with them, you’re exhausted. We all enjoy a little tea, but they relish gossip and rejoice in others’ misfortune, including yours. It may be time for that extra to become an ex.