How to Deal with Shitty Friends
I’m almost 24 years old, and for the first time probably since like 1st grade, I actually genuinely like all of my friends. For real. I’m so happy! This might sound a little sad to you at first. But think about it– do you like all of your friends?
For one reason or another, we often find ourselves in friendships with people we don’t actually really like that much. You may be doubting your friendship with a single person, or your entire social circle (cue major life crisis). To keep things simple, let’s say there’s just one friend in your life that’s a bit questionable at the moment. You may have:
- Liked this person when you first met them, but they’ve changed
- Never liked this person, but they somehow became involved in your social group, and you’re now forced to hang out with them
- Have always felt a bit questionable about this person, but went along with the friendship because you don’t have many other options. This person may not be perfect, but at least they’re someone to hang out with
Whatever your pathway to this situation is, life’s too short to get upset or frustrated over shitty friends. I’ve listed some tips for dealing with these people below:
- Just accept the fact that a lot of people are totally oblivious to their own rudeness. If I’m late to something, leave someone hanging, flake on plans, don’t hold up on a promise, or just do something plain weird and uncalled for, I feel bad. I explain myself. I apologize. I try not to do it again. Sad to say, but this sort of self-awareness of inconsiderate behavior is actually pretty hard to find in other people. I’m convinced that some humans are missing a “caring sensor” in their brain or something. Pointing out rude behavior to people missing the sensor really won’t make any difference because their brain literally does not understand or register that it is rude. That being said, just because a person is totally oblivious to their own rudeness doesn’t mean they’re a bad person, or even a bad friend. Friends don’t have to be perfect. As I’ll explain later, you can have different friends for different things. As long as a friend isn’t causing you excessive amounts of negative energy or rage, I think it’s okay to accept some dubious behavior. If you’re not willing to accept anything other than perfection, you might end up alone in a basement building peanut butter castles one day, because most people (besides you and your immediate family) are honestly a little bit weird.
- Assess the positivity to negativity ratio: I came up with the phrase “assess the positivity to negativity ratio” off the top of my head just now, and I’m honestly kind of digging it. Maybe I’ll write a self-help book called that one day. Anyways, as I mentioned in my last point, as long as a friend isn’t causing you excessive amounts of negative energy or rage, I think it’s okay and normal to accept some questionable behavior. But what if a friend does start causing excessive amounts of negative energy or rage in your life? At that point, it might be best to assess the positivity to negativity ratio. Think about the positive things this person brings to your life – fun, companionship, wingwoman-ship, etc. Then, think about the negative things – frustration, gossip, hurt feelings, etc. If the negative things outweigh the positive things (i.e. the positivity to negativity ratio is off), it might be time for a friendship breakup. I discuss three methods of friendship breakup below:
- The Selective Friendship Breakup: As I mentioned earlier, you can have different friends for different things. A friend might be really fun at the bar or in groups, but totally rage-inducing one-on-one. In the Selective Friendship Breakup, you don’t cut this person out of your life, but rather, vow to only spend time with them in the situations where you have positive experiences with them. Note: this only works if you actually keep the vow.
- The Gradual Friendship Breakup: In the Gradual Friendship Breakup, you do cut this person out of your life, but slowly and non-obviously. I recommend this method for long-distance friendships or intermittent-friendships (where you can basically pretend distance, work, or other external factors caused the breakup even though you’re actually orchestrating it). I’ve found that the Gradual Friendship Breakup doesn’t really work if you’re bound to run into the person you’re trying to escape from pretty frequently. No matter how much progress you make, every time you run into the person you’re trying to escape, you’re at great risk for going back to square one. The whole effort can easily become cyclic.
- The Cold Turkey Friendship Breakup: In the Cold Turkey Friendship Breakup, you literally just cut the questionable person out of your life. Some people (for example, my brother) do not agree with this method. Call me horrible, but I actually kind of like this one. It gets the job done, and that’s not exactly guaranteed with the other two. Plus it’s efficient. If you’re already frustrated with a person, you might not have the patience to successfully carry out the Selective or Gradual plans.
- Understand that you can ALWAYS make new friends: Breaking up with friends is hard, sometimes even harder than breaking up with a significant other! But people change, outgrow each other, and sometimes weren’t even meant to be close in the first place. So, friendship breakups are a natural part of life, and oftentimes necessary for our health and happiness. If you sense it’s time to break up with a friend, or your entire social circle, but you’re scared to disrupt the comfort and familiarity of your current situation and make the move, remember this: You can ALWAYS make new friends. When one door closes, another one opens. I wouldn’t have gotten close to the good friends I have now if I had old shitty friends to fall back on all the time. I’m going to give my advice for naturally meeting new friends and significant others in my next post, and this might help if you’re scared to make the move.
- If it’s meant to be, it will be: Friendship breakups aren’t necessarily permanent, even if you use the Cold Turkey method. If you’re truly meant to be friends with a person, you’ll reconnect after a breakup. Sometimes all you need to repair a friendship is some time apart. If it’s meant to be, it will be.
Stay tuned for my next post: “How to Naturally Meet New Friends and Significant Others.”