Advice / all

Illustration by Nevaeh Jashae Foster

You’re Not a Bad Friend: Here’s How to Establish Healthier Relationships

by share

You’re not a bad friend! You may simply not know how to be. Throughout primary and  secondary school we experience a variety of personality changes which introduces new friend groups. While many have heard the cliche “you will not walk out of high school with the same people you walked in with” phrase, it is not something you believe until you’re like me – a soon to be graduate with maybe two to five genuine friends I speak to daily. Unfortunately, no one teaches you how to establish healthy friendships throughout the evolving phases and “ages changes” in your life. Allow me!  

Choose Wisely  

I found that one reason I would switch and drop friends so often was because we did not have  anything truly in common. Learning yourself, your values, and your morals will guide you to identify your people. Don’t get me wrong! It actually is not healthy to surround yourself around  people who are lukewarm, always agreeing with copycat mind sets. Choosing people because  they allow you to lead or because they look good for your social portfolio will have you  surrounded with friends that we refer to as, well, snakes. Establishing friendships with people that will challenge your thoughts and motivate your plans even if they do not want the same  goals, you have set. But, to stop dropping friends faster than flies – learn yourself to find your people. 

Finders Keepers

After you find your people, the second step is keeping them. The first step is knowing yourself; the second step is knowing your friends. Knowing what type of friend they are is important. Are they party friends? Study friend? Therapist friend? All-around best friend? If you don’t comprehend what type of friend a person is you could easily get disappointed. For instance,  expecting your party friend to come to the library or art gallery with you will probably lead to  them laughing and telling you that is the lamest idea they have heard. This would be the job for the all-around best friend! I know it sucks, but as we age it is hard to have a friend that will do everything and anything with you because guess what? We all know ourselves, our interests and morals and we’re all different.  

You Are Not A Life Coach

This is for the people like me – the therapist, has her stuff together at all times friend. YOU ARE  NOT A LIFE COACH. My mother has told me for years, sometimes it’s alright to take a step back from the trauma dumping friends put on you. A healthy advice-giving relationship is reciprocal but I found myself drained after giving advice and when I needed it – I did not have a  friend that had the wisdom to guide in nearly any of my situations. Respect yourself enough to step away, take a deep breath and give yourself the energy and advice you so easily and  wholeheartedly give to everyone else in your life. While saying this, I emphasize that you must give yourself space to breathe while intaking your feelings and implementing boundaries!  

Best For You vs. Best For Them

You cannot want more for your friends than they want for themselves AND you cannot force  your reflective wants and needs on what people in your life should do in their life. You can still  be a supportive friend! Being a head strong, resilient friend has caused conflict in my relationships because I never stopped to ask, “What is it that you want to do with your life?” or, this is a new one I learned, “Would you rather hear advice and guidance or feel comfort and compassion?” This will save you from over stepping or over playing your part. There is nothing wrong with asking what your people need from you, you cannot read minds.  

Five questions to help you create a safe space in your relationships:

  • Do you want comfort or advice?
  • I want you to face your full potential as well as you do! What is it that you want to do  with your life?
  • I know you are having a rough time. Would you rather stay in and cope or go out and get  your mind off things?
  • I actually need some time to myself today, I am going through something at the moment. Can we talk later?
  • Lately we haven’t seen eye to eye. Could we sit and talk about what our differences stem from?

A few tips: 

  • Contrary to common belief, higher expectations will strengthen your experience and  boundaries and limit disappointments. People will know what they can and cannot do in your life. Have high expectations! 
  • Be consistent. Stay supportive, be loving, be someone to count on, comprehend and  communicate.  
  • Have fun! Don’t always be the serious friend. Sometimes in tough times, your people need an adrenaline rush-not a TED talk. 
  • Birds of a feather flock together. Who you surround yourself with, you COULD become. Choose wisely. 

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comments (6)

  1. Josie W.

    Beautiful and great for self reflection and reflection on friendships. Great Job!

  2. Nanny

    Wonderful article

  3. Whitney

    This is amazing!

  4. Princess

    I loved this article so much I feel like the way you said this was meant for me to hear and understand. I say this because I’ve always been that one friend that’s the therapist and often feels alone cuz no one is my therapist. I feel like the thing I agree most with is when you said “ The first step is knowing yourself; the second step is knowing your friends.“ all of your friends might not be able to be around each other at once because we are all on our own timing ⏱! I love this so much write another.

  5. Megan

    Beautiful writing daughter! Just as beautiful as you! Inside and out! Great job! -Mom-

  6. Kim Acreman

    Good advice that I could have used when I was a teen. Fantastic insight for a younger adult to have. Very informative and down to earth. Kudos!!