Life is more meaningful when you have good friends – people who provide you with emotional and social support. This is why some people have counted good friends among the most important things in their lives. Psychologists explain that a person’s general well-being depends on their social circle because having good friends has physical and mental health benefits. Your lifespan can be lengthened and the risk of you having mental and physical health concerns can be drastically reduced when you have good social connections. Good friendships also help in easing the feelings of loneliness which at the end of the day contributes to you feeling much happier and satisfied with life.
A necessary condition for friendship is that each one cares about the other friend. With this, friendship can essentially be described as a kind of love since it is grounded in the concern, on the part of each friend, of the welfare of the other person. Not all friendships, however, have this attribute. Some friendships are superficial and based on what one might be benefitting from the other. These types of friendships are not healthy and can be described as toxic because they do more harm than good to you. If you are wondering how to identify which friend is good for you and which isn’t, we have listed a couple of pointers below that will help you decide if one friend may be bringing more harm than happiness into your life.
The Types of Friendship Each Person Should Have Around Them
Each person’s friend list should be diverse and well-rounded and not just a bunch of fair-weather buddies who most probably will not be there for you when you call. Loyalty, consistency, reliability, honesty, consideration, and generosity are some of the attributes that should be looked out for in people you call your friends. These people do not necessarily have to be professionals in a particular field as the average Joe may be better off to you than the high-society financial adviser next door. The following list of friends described below is our pick for you to have a good social circle.
1. A Loyal/Best Friend
Everyone needs a best friend, someone who will not judge you and will give you all the support you need no matter what it is that you do. Such friends usually know your darkest secrets but still love you all the same. This type of friend helps you stay sane as you can talk to them about anything that bothers you.
2. A Mentor or Older Friend
While we recommend that you have a friend who stands by your side no matter what, you should also have a friend in your circle who inspires you to be better. Usually someone older or ahead of you in life, this person should also be brutally honest and able to tell you the harsh truth. It is, however, important that they are able to do this without making you feel inadequate. Being around such a person will challenge you to better yourself every day.
3. A Fearless and Outgoing Friend
Such a friend comes in handy when it is time to make sure you have a social life. They will always pull you out of your shell and introduce you to new things, people, and places. A decent dose of such activities helps to keep the mind sane.
4. Someone of a Different Background and Belief
You will most likely be detached from the rest of the world and perpetuate stereotypes of people different from you if you do not try to become friends with someone who is the polar opposite of you; culture, race, religion, etc. This also includes those that have opposing political views from you. Such people will open your eyes to different world views and you’ll learn to accept those that don’t see the world the way you do. You also get to explore different customs and traditions outside of the one you were raised in.
Benefits of Maintaining Friendships With Such People
1. Lower Stress Levels
No matter the social status or level of wealth one might have attained in life, stress is something everyone has had to deal with. Whether it comes in large or small doses, stress is not good and it can quickly lead to a variety of health problems like anxiety and depression. If it lasts for a longer period of time, stress can contribute to the development of issues such as insomnia, digestive problems, heart problems, poor immune health, diabetes, and high blood pressure among other ailments.
Studies have, however, found that when you feel close to another person, your levels of progesterone (the hormone that helps reduce stress and anxiety in your body) go up. This is why when you speak or vent to a friend about a situation that would normally have sent your stress levels through the roof, you feel much better. Sometimes you may not even have to speak as just being in the presence of this person can have a magical effect on you.
2. They Provide Emotional Support and Help You Feel Better About Yourself
One of the most important benefits of friendships is emotional support. They are the first form of therapy you receive and a perpetual source of moral guidance. Your friends are able to support you emotionally by listening to your problems, validating your feelings, providing a distraction for you when you feel sad or upset, and doing nice things for you just because they cherish the friendship. They can also help you cope with traumas such as divorce, the death of a loved one, serious illness, or job loss.
3. Eradicate Loneliness
Loneliness can affect your mental and physical well-being. This can, however, all be avoided if you have good friends who ensure you are never lonely. It does not matter if these friends are far or near as simply knowing that you share a strong connection with someone can make you feel less alone. Remember that these friendships have to be of very good quality or else you could still find yourself to be lonely even though you are surrounded by a crowd of people.
4. They Contribute To Your Personal Development
Friends usually mimic the behaviors of those in their circle so it is paramount that you have good friends who set good examples for you as the lifestyle you adopt will determine how long you would live. Take for example, when you have friends who smoke, drink, party frequently, and engage in other unhealthy habits, you are most likely going to adopt a similar lifestyle. In like manner, if you have friends who work out, maintain a healthy diet, save money, and do volunteer work, you are also likely to engage in those same activities. Of course, there could be situations where you all do not share the same hobbies, however, good friends will probably cheer you on and encourage you to better your life which in turn would boost your self-confidence and increase your chances of success with your goals.
The Types of Friendship To Avoid
1. Conditional Friend
This is a type of friend who is only in your life because of what they might be able to get from you. If that need is no longer being met, they will not think twice to keep away from you.
2. Fair-Weather Friend
There is always that one person who calls themselves your friend but is nowhere to be found during your time of need. They will, however, return once that period or situation of need passes like they were never away.
3. Occasional Friend
A little bit similar to the fair-weather friend, an occasional friend doesn’t necessarily keep away during your time of need. However, they choose when to be friendly with you. On certain occasions, it looks like everything is good and they are very friendly with you and then sometimes else, they suddenly cut you off without any reason or notice.
4. Fake Friend
This is an individual who gives you the impression that they are a good friend but really are not. These kinds of people can never be trusted and should be cut off as soon as you identify them.
5. Negative Friend
The direct opposite of a loyal best friend, a negative friend is one who considers themselves to be a good friend of yours but is always pessimistic about things related to your friendship. They always never support you and can never see the good in what you do. These types of people may also secretly not like you.
6. The Evaluative/Calculative Friend
This type of friend is the one that determines the significance of the relationship by calculating the last things provided. They always tend to keep score because they are afraid of getting shorted. When they do this and your tally is not adding up, they resent you for it.
How To Identify When Your Friendship Is Becoming Toxic
If you live long enough, you will find out that things rarely ever remain the same in life. This includes friendships, as we have all had people who we thought were very good friends in the past but are no longer close to them because their company has turned out to be toxic. If you are unable to identify this toxicity on time, it can drain you mentally and can bring you down instead of building you up. Below are some ways through which you can identify a toxic friend.
1. They Do Things To Belittle or Put You Down
Good-natured jokes are always welcomed when friends are with each other, however, when a friend always makes an effort to demean you and make you feel miserable, it is probably time to call it a day on that friendship. People usually do this because they feel bad about themselves and want to use somebody else as a distraction. Regardless of the reason, it is best that you walk back on the friendship immediately for your own health.
2. They Only Call or Make Themselves Available When They Need Something
Friendships should always be equal because it is based on reciprocation and mutuality. Each party must always receive as much as they put in. So, if you ever find yourself putting in more than you are receiving, there is a high chance that the friendship is getting toxic.
This may come in different ways, like them always calling you when they need something but are never there in your own time of need. It could also be in the form of them always wanting to discuss their own problems and playing down your own when you bring it up.
3. The Friendship is Always Competitive
A little competitiveness between buddies every now and then is not bad, however, when everything between the both of you is competitive, the friendship is no longer a true or healthy one as they would most likely not be happy for you when something good happens.
4. Can’t Keep Your Secret To Themselves
A friend you cannot confide in is not one you should always have around you. You should be able to tell someone a thing about you and know that the whole world, or even other mutual friends, will not get to learn about those things. When you find this to be the case with a friend, it is probably time to take a few steps back to the friendship.
5. You Feel Nervous Around Them
You should be in your comfort zone whenever you are with someone you would call a good friend. However, if you always find yourself feeling nervous whenever you are with them due to how unpredictable their behavior could be as they can easily get irritated and shout at you over the littlest things, it may be time to reconsider the friendship. Friends should be able to express their emotions in safe, healthy ways.
6. They Always Compare You To Other People
Each person in the world has their own unique traits and differences. A good friend should be able to recognize this and not use it against you by pointing out how you may not be measuring up to them or their other friends. They won’t compare you to others or imply you’re somehow less than another person. They can do this by comparing clothing items, apartments, cars, etc.
7. They Are a Bad Influence on You
Friends should never make friends do things that will get them in trouble, whether it is with the law or with any other human being. They should definitely not use peer pressure to get you to do things you’d prefer not to do, either. Like it states above, if the friendship does not make you want to be a better person, nip it in the bud immediately.