Understanding Healthy Friendships: Signs to Watch Out For
My 13-year-old daughter is struggling with friendships. Which is a common thing for kids her age. She wonders which friends are worth keeping and which ones she should let go of. My work with adults has shown me that we can struggle to know if our friendships are healthy too. Here are some key things to look out for:
1. Mutual respect: You and your friend should have a deep respect for each other's opinions, feelings, and values.
2. Trust: You should be able to confide in each other and trust that your secrets and personal information will be kept confidential.
3. Supportive: Your friend should support your goals, interests, and achievements, and you should do the same for them. You should feel encouraged and uplifted by each other.
4. Communication: You should feel comfortable communicating openly and honestly with your friend, and they should do the same with you. You should be able to discuss your thoughts, feelings, and concerns without fear of judgment or criticism.
5. Healthy boundaries: You and your friend should respect each other's boundaries and be willing to compromise when needed. You should feel comfortable saying no when you need to, and your friend should be respectful of that.
On the other hand, here are some signs of an unhealthy friendship:
1. Disrespect: If your friend consistently ignores your boundaries, belittles your opinions or feelings, or disrespects you, it is not a healthy friendship.
2. Manipulation: If your friend frequently tries to control you or manipulate you into doing things you don't want to do, this is not a healthy dynamic.
3. One-sidedness: If the friendship is one-sided, with one friend consistently giving while the other takes without reciprocation, it is unhealthy. You should both feel like you're getting something positive out of the friendship.
4. Communication problems: If you cannot communicate openly and honestly with your friend, or they're unwilling to listen to you, that's a problem. If you find yourself constantly walking on eggshells around them or avoiding conflict, that's a sign of an unhealthy friendship.
5. Lack of support: If your friend consistently fails to support you during difficult times or dismisses your problems as insignificant, this is not a healthy friendship.
6. Enabling negative behavior: If your friend engages in harmful behaviors, and you're unable to or don't feel comfortable calling them out on it, that's a sign of an unhealthy friendship.
7. Lack of boundaries: If your friend doesn't respect your boundaries or pushes you to do things you're uncomfortable with, that's a sign of an unhealthy friendship.
Healthy friendships are built on mutual respect, trust, support, communication, and clear boundaries. Unhealthy friendships involve disrespect, manipulation, one-sidedness, jealousy, and a lack of support. A healthy friendship should make you feel good about yourself and your life, while an unhealthy one can leave you feeling drained, stressed, and unhappy. If you're not sure whether your friendship is healthy or not, it may be helpful to talk to a trusted friend or family member or even a therapist to get an outside perspective.
Wishing you a bounty of healthy friendships!