Nobody’s perfect. We’ve all been guilty of letting our friends down on occasion, and a sincere apology is usually the best way to win back a friend’s good faith. But it’s the chronic bad friendship habits that can wreck our relationships for good.
We’ve listed the 7 most common friendship missteps below. See if you or any of your gal pals make the list, and if you do, what you can do about it.
It’s just not very rewarding to hang out with a friend who’s always a….
1. Whining Wendy
Most of us understand the need to vent to our friends on occasion, but if you are in the habit of treating time with your buddies as group therapy—you just might find yourself spending more time alone. Women friends do tend to offer each other support and a shoulder to cry on in stressful times but the load should be evenly shared. In other words, we need to be able to express the good and the bad with our friends, but we also need to strike a balance so that our friends feel equally supported.
Fix it: When you feel like complaining about troubles in your life, take a breath and instead ask a friend how life is treating them. Do not interrupt with your own woes. Focus on your pal. Honestly, the relieved look on her face as she shares her struggles or joys will be worth the effort!
2. Late Kate
The friend who is always late or who often cancels at the last minute is demonstrating her disregard for your time and a lack of respect for the plans she agreed to. These behaviors shout: your time isn’t as important as my need to make another phone call, run another errand, choose another outfit for the day—whatever it is that made her late or compelled her to ditch your plans again.
Fix it: If you are the friend who’s chronically late, try this trick for meeting your obligations on time: Jot down the time you are supposed to be somewhere, but then set a calendar reminder or alarm for the time that you need to leave in order to be on time! If you have a pal who shows up late or bails on you routinely, share this tip with them. Explain that you look forward to spending time together and feel disappointed when she’s tardy or a no-show.
3. Rigid Rhonda
Are you a control freak when it comes to making plans with your pals? Or is there someone in your circle who always chooses the day, the time and the place, not to mention the bottle of wine? The problem with being so inflexible is that such behavior stifles the friendship’s path. A friendship can’t grow and blossom if one member of it insists on having everything conform to her personal comfort and convenience. Do that, and you’ll end up with a bonsai instead of an oak.
Fix it: Loosen your grip when making plans with your women friends. Be open to the opportunity to learn and enjoy something new about your friends and yourself. Allowing someone else to take the lead, not only takes the responsibility from you, but can open you up to an experience that just might become a favorite of yours.
4. Lazy Maisie
Good friends don’t keep tally sheets, right? But given enough time and observation, anyone in the group can identify the slacker in their midst. She shows up empty-handed and leaves without helping tidy up. She’s the last one to respond to your email asking if anyone can take your kiddo for a playdate while you clean for your in-laws’ visit. She calculates the tip to the last penny and never wants to split the check equal ways.
The truth is that it feels good to be generous with your friends. And that doesn’t mean spending beyond your means. It means bringing a pot of soup to a sick friend or taking a walk with a lonely one. I was truly amazed to see this spirit of giving in my community these last few weeks when the 100-year-flood ravaged Boulder, Colorado. As a community, this town really stepped up.
Fix it: Are you the friend who doesn’t do her share? Well, start. It is really that simple. Ask how you can help, or better yet, think of things you can do that may help a friend or neighbor, and do it before being asked.
5. Silent Sue
Sometimes, even the best of buddies have disagreements and misunderstandings. And if you handle these rough patches by cutting off your friends, you can make a painful situation even more hurtful. Women put a much greater value on contact with their women friends than do men. And women are also better at communicating through a variety of channels with their friends. So when a friend doesn’t respond to an email or text after a fight, it adds to the heartache of the rift for everyone involved.
Fix it: Don’t ignore a friend’s attempt to communicate after a disagreement. You can ask for some time to cool off or think things through, but make certain you keep the lines of communication open. Nobody gets from disagreement to understanding through silence; so don’t be tempted to try.
6. Jealous Jacqueline
A touch of envy can be motivating. Do you have a gal pal who always looks put-together or who has killer legs? She may provide the inspiration you need to trade in those yoga pants for a nicer pair of slacks when leaving the house. And what’s to keep you from adding more oomph to your lower-body workout? Better yet, ask her to go shopping with you or share her secrets for more shapely calves.
But red-hot jealousy has no place in a mature friendship. Why? Because a sincere friend celebrates your triumphs, knowing you will do the same when it’s her turn to shine.
Fix it: The fix for this friendship-buster is self-examination. Ask yourself, are you really angry that a friend has a perceived advantage over you, or might you be a bit disappointed in yourself that you didn’t take steps to secure the same situation for yourself? If so, then get yourself on an online dating site and find a great fellow, or ask for the extra project or overtime and put that money directly in your vacation fund. Jealousy is completely natural, not doing something to alleviate it, isn’t.
7. Untrustworthy Uma
These are the cardinal sins among women friends: gossiping, lying and back-stabbing. Once committed, it is almost impossible to again feel safe and trust someone who would engage in any of these betrayals without their sincere apology and commitment to not repeat the offense.
Gossip and deceitfulness just don’t have any place in a true, adult friendship. My friend Stacy’s sage advice: “Say anything you want about me. Just say it to me first.”
Fix it: Don’t talk behind a friend’s back if you want to keep her as a friend. And remember, genuine friends don’t lie to you or sabotage any area of your life, so quickly divorce from those who do. You won’t regret making room for more sincere friendships.
Take good care of the friends you have. Be brave enough to change your bad habits. Be courageous enough to open up to a friend about what would make your friendship stronger. And when making new friends, remember to keep stifling habits in check so that your friendship can truly bloom.