7 Types of Friends to Avoid for the Sake of Our Happiness (and Sanity)
There are two categories of people in all of our lives—people who fill us with joy and purpose or empty our soul and drain our energy.
Instead of focusing on making as many friends as we can, we need to pay close attention to who our friends are. Are they the former type who lifts us up or are the latter who keeps us down?
I had cancer twice in my early twenties. The experience gave me a lot of time to reflect on my life—who I wanted to be, what kinds of people I wanted to spend time with, and what kinds of people I wanted to distance from my life. From my reflections I came up with a list of 7 types of friends that we need to avoid for a happier, more fulfilling life.
- 1. The Friend Who’s Always Complaining
- 2. The Friend Whose Life is a Never-ending Soap Opera Series
- 3. The Friend Who Disrespects Your Core Values
- 4. The Friend Who Has to be Better Than You in Everything
- 5. The friend who never grows up
- 6. The friend who tries to stunt your personal development
- 7. The friend who holds onto grudges
- 8. Quality Friendship is Key to a Happy Life
7 Types of Friends We Need to Avoid for a Happier Life
1. The Friend Who’s Always Complaining
Do you have a friend who is always complaining?
Something is always wrong with their job, their spouse, the traffic, the weather, and the list goes on and on. They have an incessant need to whine about the things that are not going well in their lives and they make sure you hear about it with the full theatrical effect—their hands in the air, eyebrows furrowed, and voice shrill with dissatisfaction.
There’s no danger in having a friend who likes to vent once in a while, but if you have a friend who is always complaining, that’s a problem.
Sure, it’s annoying, but what you really need to be careful of is that a chronic complainer’s constant negativity can actually kill you. I went over the effects of negativity on our health in my blog post “5 Powerful Strategies to Help You Manage Negativity”.
But why would someone else’s negativity affect our own health?
According to psychologists, we will subconsciously start to imitate the facial expressions, posture, and even tone of voice of those we spend a lot of time with. By doing this, we soak up whatever emotions they express and even adopt their mental state.
So if you have a friend who is constantly spewing negativity by complaining about everything under the sun, you’re going to have a tough time feeling positive and productive around that person.
In order to shield us from this constant bombardment of negativity, we need to clearly set boundaries with a friend who is always complaining.
There are times when we need to listen and provide our support, but if they’re not willing to do anything to change their situation or outlook, the only thing we can do is distance ourselves from that negative energy.
2. The Friend Whose Life is a Never-ending Soap Opera Series
Some people seem to be forever embroiled in messy relationships, heated workplace conflicts, or yet another “crisis” in the form of overcooked vegetables at a restaurant. Drama seems to follow them wherever they go.
People who revel in drama need an audience who will pay them constant, undivided attention.
If we allow ourselves to become that audience, we will be forced to listen to stories after stories peppered with “OMG’s” and exclamation marks, but have no real value. We will be expected to nod along, invest emotionally in their relationship woes, office feuds, or family disagreements. And we’ll have to console them over and over again.
Before we know it, we get sucked in by their drama and find ourselves empty emotionally at the end of every conversation. Soon we start to think to ourselves “what is it this time?” whenever they call or text us.
If you have a friend whose life is a long-standing soap-opera series, it may be time for you to switch the channel.
It’s important to remember that we have the power to decide how we want to spend our days and what we want our minds to be filled with.
Do you really want to spend hours upon hours listening to problems that are blown out of proportion by people who have little interest in actually solving them?
And don’t let anyone, including yourself, make you feel bad about walking away from drama.
Life is too short to live in someone else’s soap opera all the time.
3. The Friend Who Disrespects Your Core Values
Friends don’t need to agree with one another’s values and beliefs all the time. But what’s critical in any good friendship is respect for each other’s core values.
I’ve seen a lot of so-called friends bash each other on things that they don’t understand, but are important to the other person.
For example, a person who loves the single, dating life calling his married friend “unmanly” for refusing to flirt with other women because he values his marriage. Or an Atheist telling her devoted Christian friend that she thinks her friend’s time spent at prayer groups is a “waste of time”.
Disrespect for someone’s core values is a sign of intolerance.
It sends the message “I am right and you’re wrong, and I refuse to consider any other possibility”. That kind of attitude will not only create tension and resentment in your friendship, it will limit day-to-day conversations to superficial topics. Anything deeper than the weather, the recent sports game, or what’s new on TV will result in jabs at the things you view as important to you, so you’ll avoid it altogether.
If all you’re looking for from a friendship is “shooting the breeze”—idle chitchat about nothing of real value, then by all means, keep cultivating this friendship. But if you’re looking for authentic, meaningful conversations, you will need look elsewhere.
If you have a friend who disrespects your core values, it’s time to reconsider whether this friendship is worth pursuing or not.
Unless your core value is something along the lines of hurting others or maximizing monetary profit at all cost, your value is important and worthy. No “friend” should ever humiliate you for what you regard as a value.
4. The Friend Who Has to be Better Than You in Everything
I once had a friend who was competitive about EVERYTHING. I felt her eyes constantly sizing me up, her internal measuring stick working hard at comparing the two of us from every possible angle.
One time, I overheard her asking her boyfriend: “Who do you think is prettier, Sabrina or me?” He whispered something in her ear and she chuckled with glee. And that was it. It was the wake-up call I needed to back away from this “friendship”.
We all know people who are competitive in nature. Some might transform into trash-talking, chest-pumping beasts during a sports game. Others will try to prove themselves as the better cook with a slow roasted ribs recipe that will put yours to shame.
Whatever it is, a little bit of competitiveness in a friendship is not a big deal. It might even be kind of an amusing quirk (think Monica from “Friends”). But if we have a friend who has to beat you in everything, then it’s not something we can gloss over as a “quirk” anymore.
No one can be better than someone else at everything. You can always learn something from someone else, regardless of their age, socio-economic status, education level, or life experience.
The great ancient Philosopher Confucius once said: “Three people walk together, there must be a teacher of mine among them.”
If you have a friend who is set on outshining you in every aspect of life, then it’s apparent that they do not think they can learn anything from you. They can’t bring themselves to feel genuine happiness for your success if it somehow towers over their own.
That kind of attitude can become downright toxic and result in conflicts and hurt feelings as it did in my “friendship” that I mentioned earlier.
So unless the hyper-competitive friend in your life can somehow change their mindset, it’s better for you to just limit contact with them.
A friend is someone who can be our cheerleader, not someone who will secretly (or not so secretly) boo us on the sidelines.
5. The friend who never grows up
Here’s how the story of human development usually goes: at some point during our mid-20’s to early 30’s, we mature into real adults with real responsibilities like paying rent, filing taxes, or even parenting children.
But there are those who seem to have missed the boat on this maturing process.
Do you have a friend who still parties way too hard, throws tantrums when they don’t get their way, or refuses to take on real responsibilities, even though they’re well into adulthood?
Once upon a time, hanging out with this friend was something that you looked forward to. The conversations never turned stale, their jokes never seemed old, and you could spend all day with them doing what now seems like the most frivolous things.
But now things are different.
You find yourself being the one who’s taking care of them most of the time, the one telling them they should think a little farther than the next weekend, and the one whom they lash out at when you can’t ditch your responsibilities at the drop of a hat for a “good time”.
You’re now a full-fledged adult, and yet they’re stuck being a child. And no matter what you do or say to help them, they never grow up.
If you have a friend like this, at some point in your life, you will need to take a hard look at your friendship and decide whether it is something that has a future.
You have a lot of history together, I understand, but are you making new positive memories together that are lasting and meaningful, or are you just rehashing the “good ol’ days” over and over, without sharing new experiences that fill you both with joy?
If you’re not making new positive memories together that are lasting and meaningful, you’re not building a future for this friendship.
The more and more you grow up, the wider and wider the gap will be between your emotional self and your friend who hasn’t grown up—until you’re unable to speak the same language anymore. This kind of friendship dynamic will inevitably lead to frustration on both sides.
You don’t need to cut this friend out of your life completely, but it’s important to understand that the balance has shifted in this friendship. It is not a friendship that will make you truly happy.
6. The friend who tries to stunt your personal development
Unlike the friend who wants to be better than you in everything, there’s a type of friend who just wants you to be at their level and not move an inch forward.
They’re the friend who tempted you with a cigarette when you tried to quit smoking.
When you wanted to further your education, they’re the ones who said it was not worth your money or your time.
And when you finally gathered enough courage to quit your job and start your own business, they’re the ones who told you you should just stick to your 9 to 5 job no matter how boring it is.
Because according to them, a steady paycheck is good enough.
But good enough is not enough for you. You want to learn and grow. You want to develop good habits and shed the bad ones. You don’t want to be stuck in the same place forever, doing the same monotonous job, and feeling the same nagging feeling at the back of your mind that you could be doing so much more with your life.
What this friend is doing is they’re trying to pull you back from personal growth. And why would they do this?
They’re scared of losing you.
They don’t want to move outside of their comfort zone and don’t want you to leave yours either.
By holding you back, you’ll always be within their reach, talking about the same things that you had always talked about—things they could understand and relate to.
If you grow, things will not be the same between the two of you. And they know it.
If you have a friend who, instead of supporting and encouraging you to be a better version of yourself, tries to stop you from progressing forward, it’s time to re-examine this friendship.
7. The friend who holds onto grudges
There’s nothing more damaging to a friendship, or any relationship for that matter, than the poison of old grudges.
No matter how wonderful your friendship is, there will be times when conflicts and misunderstandings occur. We’re humans after all, and no human is perfect. It is how we choose to handle these hiccups that determine the health of our friendship.
There are people who forgive transgressions quickly and move on, like water sliding off glass.
And then there are people who hold onto each and every disagreement you had, or things that they feel you did wrong but you didn’t even know you did wrong, or the things you knew you did wrong but had already apologized for. Things that were trivial and should have been long forgotten, but somehow fermented in their minds into bitter morsels of hurt and anger that they like to regurgitate from time to time.
If you have a friend who likes to hold grudges, then you’ll understand what I mean when I say that being friends with someone like this is painful.
You never know when they’ll unleash the resentment they’ve been holding over the tiniest errors on your part.
And no matter how much energy you spend tending to their sensitivity radar, there will always be something that sets off their alarm and ends up in their collection of grudges.
You feel like you have to tiptoe around them, apologize more than necessary, and “guess” what they could possibly be mad about this time. Do these sound like signs of a balanced and healthy friendship?
Quality Friendship is Key to a Happy Life
In a survey conducted by Huffington Post about the impact of friends on people’s lives, they found that “friendship is the single most important factor in determining a person’s happiness”.
No wonder then, that so much of our lives from the early years of childhood to the last years of our lives, is spent in search of people who can understand us, laugh with us, and share our secrets.
Today, I am no longer ashamed of having only a few close friends. In fact, I can hold my head up high and feel good about it.
I’ve learned to focus my time and energy on people that fill me with joy, inspire me to grow, and believe in the best of me. I’ve also learned that it’s ok to back away from people who do nothing but suck out my energy and bring the worst out of me.
There’s nothing wrong with being a little choosy when it comes to our friends. After all, they hold the key to our happiness. With that said, let’s not forget to be a good friend ourselves.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic of friendship. Drop me a line in the comment box below or send me an email!