Be it in real or reel life, we’ve all heard of that one duplicitous friend whom we thought could be relied in for unconditional support, only to have them turn around and show their true colours. If you’ve found yourself having trouble attempting to discern whether your friend is a genuine companion or a wolf in sheep’s clothing, then it may be time to go through this friendship checklist:
1. Are they easily jealous of your success?
One quick way to tell whether someone isn’t really your friend is to observe how he or she reacts to your successes and achievements. For instance, if you received a job promotion or scored a highly coveted internship and were excited to share it with your friend, only to be met with dismissive or deprecatory comments like, “You finally received that job offer? Hope you don’t miss your social life for the next five years!”, then it may be time to bid this “friend” goodbye. A true friend should be one who is supportive of your success and encourages you to chase your dreams, instead of passing deprecating comments that cause you to doubt yourself and question your abilities.
2. Do they have an unbridled tongue?
If your friend is constantly gossiping about other friends to you, then this should be a major red flag. Chances are, they probably talk about you behind your back too – and not in a good way. A true friend may be cognisant of your flaws, but he or she would still have your back instead of seizing every opportunity to tear you apart. It’s one thing to demonstrate candour about a person’s disposition when asked about it, but it’s another to say unnecessarily demeaning things with the intention of spreading vicious rumours or spurring others to form a bad impression of the aforementioned person.
3. Do they only stick around during the good times?
Ever noticed that one friend who’s always around when times are good, but vanishes in the blink of an eye when things get tough? We’ve all had experiences with fair-weather friends, and the painful feeling of being abandoned when we crave emotional support the most never truly goes away. A true friend will stick with you through both the ups and the downs, and would be more than willing to lend you a shoulder to cry on and encourage you, instead of berating you or making you feel worse than you already do. After all, a friend in need is a friend indeed. Bonds are easily forged when everything is fine and dandy, but these friendships are put to the test during the lowest of the lows. When the going gets tough, strong friendships get going.
4. Do you feel that they see you as a means to an end?
In life, we all have people whom we keep in contact with because we know that they will “scratch our back” if we scratch theirs. However, it’s important to remember that real, lifelong friends differ from mere allies. Your relationship should not be predicated on mutually exploitative intent, but instead anchored on the fact that both of you enjoy doing things for each other to make the other party happy. If you’ve realised that your “friend” has developed the habit of riding on your coattails for the sake of benefits, then it’s likely that they are self-serving and simply treating you as a means to an end to advance their own wellbeing without any consideration for yours.
5. Do they reciprocate your efforts?
Do you feel like you’re constantly trying to make an effort to initiate meetups and stay in contact? Does your friend dismiss these efforts, or fail to invest the same amount of energy in trying to commit to and maintain your friendship? If your answers to these questions is a resounding “yes”, then perhaps this relationship isn’t worth preserving. Friendship is a two-way street – in the same way that it takes two to tango. Your friend should show a similar desire to maintain your friendship and communication. If he or she is constantly bailing on you, or generating excuses whenever you try to initiate plans, then perhaps the relationship you two share is no longer what it used to be.
There are no strict rules or touchstones when it comes to friendship, but there do exist certain indicators of real, genuine friendships. Rather than trying to force themselves into a mould, friends who are compatible should connect seamlessly like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. But like any relationship, effort must be invested into your friendship to make it work. But if you’ve found yourself musing, “It shouldn’t have to be this hard”, then you’re probably right. When your “friends” give you reason to doubt your trust in them, leave them at the door. Life is short – don’t make time for people who obviously have little to no care for you.