When meeting up with clients, friends, and hearing so many stories, rants and complaints about freinds over the years, it’s clear that many of us still struggle in our friendships.
So many people visit my site to read about friends ghosting them or cutting them off, people tell me about a friend they absolutely cannot stand yet still continue to hang out with them – which is akin to hate-following someone. Yes, just like how people will follow every move of a celeb just to hate on them.
Friendships are the less popular cousin of romantic relationships. But they are one of the most important human relationships in our lives.
I’ve constantly documented my friendships with people who seemed to only be interested in one sided friendships. They’d come to me when they were bored, but are conversational narcissists, emotional dumpers amongst others.
So how does one prevent this? Or what are the red flags to look out for?
Is it something that is preventable? To some extent it is. Let’s take a look.
#1 Choose your friends wisely from the start
For me, it’s always best to tread carefully at the beginning and take your time to get to know someone well. Observe the signs, observe their behaviour and also observe how you feel when you are around them.
There were a couple of friendships where I’ve ignored amber or red flags at the beginning and actually lived to regret it later on. And it sometimes is harder to break off a friendship when you’ve already been emotionally invested for quite awhile.
#2 Build trust slowly
Just like in romances, it can be tempting to fast forward friendships. A couple of fun outings and conversations and you may be misled into thinking that you have loads in common. But it takes alot more than that. It can also be easy to place your trust and confidence in someone whom you’ve just known, just because you seem to “vibe” well together.
Instead, what I’ve found works is spending more time with the person, observing them and sussing out their values/lifestyles and if it’s aligned with yours. For instance, it’d be impossible for me to be friends with someone who is alright with treating their existing relationships and friends very poorly. In my experience, such people are bound to treat you the same sometime in the near future. As someone who has problems with so many different people shows an issue with their character and befriending someone new won’t suddenly change their attitude.
Another thing I watch out for as well, is who I’m confiding in and what. For instance, I wouldn’t tell someone I just met about my deepest, darkest fears. But I may start to drop bits of information as I get to know them better. The way people react to you being vulnerable is very telling of the sort of person they are – do they brush your problems aside? Or do they empathise and make you feel comfortable?
#3 Allow people to unfold
Another reason why it’s important to take time to really know someone is that people start to reveal their true selves over time. You start to see how they react in a variety of situations and with other people. For example, a person may come across like an amazing person in a 1 on 1 setting. But in a group setting, you start to notice that they have a nasty attitude towards certain people.
When people get comfortable, it’s when they start to reveal their “true colours” and that is when you start to see the true them. It could be very different from what you perceive them as at the beginning. Also, just like in romantic relationships, lots of people, as part of impression management, tend to put on a front and have this amazing persona at the start. This persona melts away over time, as it is just a facade and is hard to keep up over time.
As with any romantic relationship, it’s always rewarding to ease yourself into friendships. When you allow people to reveal their true selves over time and not rush into building intimacy so quickly, you get to see people for who they really are, instead of what you think they are or what you want them to be.