Friendships tend to bring people a lot of fulfillment and joy. From vulnerable self-disclosures to inside jokes, there are many benefits to acquiring a confidant. But, similar to some romantic relationships, not all friendships were meant to thrive. Being aware of the roles we play in our connections and how they, in turn, affect our mental wellbeing can be crucial information. Listed below are signs to take notice of to analyze your friendships a bit closer.
You’re always there for them, but you feel like they’re never there for you.
“What ways would I like to be supported in my friendship?”
“I always put the needs of others before my own?”
- You’re there for every phone call, there to support when they’re not feeling their best, you even check-in, to see if they are doing okay. But you never feel as if your friend is as concerned about you as you are about them. Assess your needs for connection in the friendship, and whether or not they are being met.
- Use this opportunity to notice whether you tend to over-extend yourself within your friendships.
They don’t want to hear about what is troubling you.
“Do I feel about the lack of support I am experiencing?”
- When you need a shoulder to cry on, or someone to vent to, are your friends there for you? You call them, but they don’t pick up. Whenever you text, but they consistently reply hours later. You start to wonder whether you are a priority for them or not. You almost begin to feel alone, within your friendship. Tune into your experience and assess how you feel about the situation.
They criticize you or shame you.
“What ways does this person make me feel as if I am not good enough?”
- You feel like your friend always has something negative to say something about how you look, how you’re acting, your lifestyle (if not harmful), and more. You feel tense, and like you always have to maintain a false persona. You perceive judgment when you share something personal with them and are often met with unsolicited and/or subtle criticisms. Reflect on your experiences as they pertain to feeling shame within your friendship.
They don’t celebrate your successes.
“Do I feel uncomfortable sharing my success stories with my friend?”
- You achieve something significant to you, and share the news with your friend, hoping they will be as happy as you. But they’re not. They either dismiss or minimize your successes. You feel uncomfortable sharing your accomplishments and gains because you anticipate an expression of disapproval from your friend. In this case, it’s essential to assess how this makes you feel.
They only communicate with you when they need something.
“How do I feel about only being important to this friend when they need something?”
- Your friend reaches out, and you immediately sense that they’re going to ask you for a favour or some tangible assistance.
- It seems like they no longer want to invest time in getting to know you better. You feel like a resource that serves one purpose. In this case, it’s essential to evaluate how you think about your role in the friendship.
If anything noted above resonates with your experiences, it may be helpful to evaluate how your friendship makes you feel—assessing your cognitive, emotional, and physiological states when you’re around this person or when you think about your relationship with them. It may also be necessary to initiate a conversation with the friend you’re thinking of surrounding your concerns. Doing so may help open a new, insightful dialogue or help you re-assess your boundaries, expectations, and understanding of friendships.
Clinicians at CFIR can support you to find and build relationships by enriching your interpersonal skills. Book an appointment today and start your journey to learning how to communicate and connect emotionally!
Nereah Felix, B.A. is a counsellor at Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) in Ottawa and is under the supervision of Dr. Aleks Milosevic, C.Psych. The clients who come to see her are provided with an authentic, non-judgmental, safe, and supportive environment to share their experiences and improve their wellbeing. Nereah is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology at the University of Ottawa.