Photo by Steven Depolo

More often than not, I’m filled with sadness when I think of the support system I have in my life. My family has their share of shortcomings that I will save for another post, but I didn’t get to choose them. My friends, though, are my choice. I guess I didn’t realize how limited I am by the friends I have until I met a few really amazing friends who showed me what true friendship can really be like. You know what Harry, Ron and Hermione have? Real people can have that, too. But how do you know if you’re being a crappy friend? Here are some tell-tale signs:

If you are a crappy friend:

  1. You are unsupportive. If your friend tells you that she’s looking for a nice guy, you will argue emphatically with her that she’s “wrong” and won’t take no for an answer. If your taste in clothing is simple and classic but your friend likes to more bold statements, you will scowl your face at her choices when you go shopping together. When your friend tells you that she’s miserable and wants to move out of the house, you will tell her to just grin and bear it because you can and would. When your friend shares with you good news, you rain on her parade. You feel that your preferences are the law of the land that everyone must follow. It is unsupportive and stunts everyone’s development, including your own.
  2. You make your friends feel guilty when they ask you for a favor. If you’re the only one with a car and driver’s license, you roll your eyes and sigh if they ask you for a ride home after late night partying in the winter. You will pre-empt any requests for a ride home by announcing prematurely that you won’t be giving anyone a ride home. If your friends are short on cash and you spot them for a trip to McDonald’s, you’ll nag them for your owed money like a snooze alarm instead of cutting them some slack. You will not be inconvenienced.
  3. You betray your friends. When you and your best friend like the same guy, but she’s the first to voice those feelings to her confidantes while you keep them private, you will connive a way to get that guy into your bed instead of taking a step back and respecting your friend’s feelings. When your friend shares a secret with you, you don’t keep it to yourself, especially if you think the information might make people look at you more favorably. You lack self-esteem, integrity and are selfish.

Signs that you have crappy friends:

  1. You don’t feel comfortable being yourself around them. You find yourself thinking and re-thinking your thoughts before you speak. You laugh at jokes that aren’t funny and are probably mean. Maybe you’ll drink more than you care to or engage in other risky behavior just to fit in.
  2. You’re not moving any closer toward your goals. Maybe you dreamed about going to business school across the country. Or pursuing a job overseas. But someone you got led astray. When you take a step back and look at your life, you see that you’ve spent the last decade stuck with your friends partying at the clubs, drinking and getting hung over. Everyone is exactly where they were in college. No one is on a career track, let alone has one mapped out. Heck, no one even has a plan to meet their personal goals. Everyone, including you, is lost.
  3. You aren’t developing more positive qualities. You find that when you leave your friends you’re feeling more anxious, irritated and angry at life. You aren’t feeling more loving, inspired, patient or relaxed. Instead of bringing out the best in you, your friends pull you into their problems.

If you are a highly developed person and can stay close to crappy friends without their bad influence rubbing off on you, then you’ve mastered a huge life hurdle. Congratulations. However, if you find that your friends bring you down and can’t give you the emotional support that you need, it is absolutely in your best interest to distance yourself from them and find friends who can give you a more satisfying relationship. Only you can decide the best course of action but remember: you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

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