Kathryn Vercillo is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and blogger. She writes about food, nutrition, and health.
Are They a True Friend or a Friend of Convenience?
Friends are important. You need to have them. They help you through the tough times and celebrate the good times with you. But the truth of the matter is that friendship is hard work, especially as you get older and need to divide your time between family, work, and taking care of yourself. That's why it's important to learn to be discerning about who you choose to be friends with. Some types of friends are the type that are worth your time. Other friendships just aren't worth nurturing.
5 Types of Friends You Should Probably Avoid
Here is a look at five common types of friends that you might be better off without:
- Friendships of Convenience
- The Friend You Always Feel Like You "Should" Call
- The Martyr
- The One Who Thinks She's Your Mother
- The Friend Who Is Never There for You
1. Friendships of Convenience
These are the friends that you have because it's easy to have them. They're the women who go to the same yoga class as you. They are the parents of your friends. They're the owners of the dogs that play at the same dog park as your pooch. In some cases, these people actually become your real friends. However, these people aren't the ones that you typically want to devote a lot of time to.
Although it's nice to have them as acquaintances to help with carpool and take your dog for a walk, these aren't folks that are going to be there for you when the going really gets tough. Of course, you'll still enjoy spending time with these people since it's convenient but don't get so caught up in these easy connections that you nurture them when you should be nurturing your deeper connections.
2. The Friend You Always Feel Like You "Should" Call
This person isn't the person that you call because you genuinely want to know how he's doing. You don't call because you've been thinking about him and miss talking to him. You don't call because you're having a tough time and know that he's going to say exactly the right thing.
This is the friend that you call because you feel like you have to. Maybe you've been friends for a really long time, and you've just outgrown each other, but you can't let each other go. Maybe this friend really likes you and is always trying to make an effort to spend time with you, and there's no good reason not to like this person; you just don't care that much about him either way.
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You shouldn't invest a lot of time in friendships that feel like obligations. You already have a family that you're obligated to; we get to choose our friends!
3. The Martyr
You know her. She's always the one who is there to do something for you. She's the one that you call at the last minute when your plane is late, and there is no one else to pick you up. You don't call her because you've been friends for twenty years, and that's just what you do for each other; you call her because you know that she can never say no to an opportunity to help. The problem is that she never lets you forget it.
She doesn't let you help her. She always has to one-up with you with how hard she works for you and everyone else around you. Admit it; you're hanging on to this friend because you know that she'll do things for you even though you're paying the price of feeling guilty about the friendship. True friends will do things for you when you need them, and you'll do things for them when they need it. It's a fair exchange, not a competition to see who is the best martyr.
4. The One Who Thinks She's Your Mother
She always knows what is best for you. She doesn't just listen when you have a problem; she tells you how to solve it. She gets angry at other people on your behalf when you just needed to vent for a moment about how someone else upset you. It's nice the way that she takes care of you. However, you're an adult, and you don't need another mom.
The way that this friend takes care of you takes something away from your ability to take care of yourself. It's not healthy. And unless you can find a way to create some better boundaries then this friend is probably not a friend that you really need to keep around.
5. The Friend Who Is Never There for You
It might be tough to be genuine friends with a martyr or a mother type, but it's even worse when the friend lies at the other end of the spectrum. This is the guy who always calls you at the last minute to do an errand for him and maybe even says, "I'd do it for you," but the truth of the matter is that he's never there when you need him.
He doesn't answer your calls unless it's convenient for him. He certainly isn't the kind of friend that you could expect to drop in on during an emergency. And yet he expects you to be there for every problem—and there are always lots of them.
Don't Mistake These Folks for Real Friends
These five friends might have a place in your life. However, they shouldn't be placed at the center of your friendship circle. As an adult, you really only have a limited amount of time and emotional energy to invest in your friendships. Those friendships should be sustaining, nurturing, caring, inspiring and loving. They shouldn't cause you guilt or stress on a regular basis. Think about who your real friends are!