7 signs someone just isn't a good friend, no matter your history

two women standing next to each other with a ribbon around their necks, with a red filter
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  • Friendships, especially long-term ones, usually experience highs and lows.

  • But if you consistently don't feel good around a friend, it can be a sign that they're a bad one.

  • A psychologist shared signs a friend isn't treating you right, even if you've known them forever.

Friendships — especially the close, long-term kind — can be prone to ups and downs. But sometimes, a rough patch (or several) can mean more than a temporary blip in the relationship, Miriam Kirmayer, a clinical psychologist, said.

Kirmayer said that your friendships are closely tied to your personal growth as well as your overall health and even professional success. Not feeling connected, understood, or even safe around a friend you see all the time can have detrimental effects on your life.

But being honest about how a friend makes you feel is easier said than done. "Generally, this is one of those questions that we don't take the time to ask ourselves," Kirmayer said, even though the answer is usually "very telling."

She shared some signs a friend is just not treating you right, even if you have a long history or empathize with them.

1. They take way more than they give back

Kirmayer said that one of the most important aspects of friendships is a "sense of balance or equality."

"We don't want to feel though we're scorekeeping or counting the minutes, but there should be this spirit that each person is able to contribute as much as they want to," she said. A friend might communicate by talking more, for example, but you should still feel like they ask you questions and are interested in your life.

A friend who feels like more of an energy vampire can make you feel drained and used because one-sided friendships tend to create resentment over time.

2. They use 'brutal honesty' to criticize you

There's a fine line between that and constructive critiques. It's one thing for a friend to worry about your attachment to an abusive ex; it's another for them to comment on how you talk, your mannerisms, or your hobbies.

"We feel the truest sense of belonging and connection when we feel seen, heard, and appreciated for who we actually are," Kirmayer said. If you constantly get told you're doing something wrong, "it can end up feeling like that friendship is conditional on our willingness or ability to mold ourselves into who they want us to be."

Whether they're taking jabs out of potential jealousy or sending you long therapy-speak texts about your faults, they're not helping you grow — they're cutting you down.

3. They don't respond well to feedback

Another really important part of a solid friendship is their ability to take feedback, Kirmayer said.

"When you share that something makes you uncomfortable, something they've said, are they receptive to that?" she said. "Are they willing to take accountability or just your hear you out in a way that allows for constructive conversations?"

If you notice that your friend is reactive to feedback no matter how politely and diplomatically it's presented, it sends the signal that you have to put up with their behavior or risk explosive conflict, neither of which is healthy.

4. They rarely initiate communication

Tying back to reciprocity, Kirmayer said it's really crucial for close friends to feel equal in making time for and prioritizing each other. There's a general balance between reaching out to each other or initiating plans, even if one person is a little busier or going through a major life change.

"That consistency is important for keeping our friendships thriving," she said. Otherwise, you might worry if your friend is quiet quitting the relationship if you're always the one to text first.

5. They don't take 'no' for an answer

Friends respect your boundaries, Kirmayer said. If you say no to talking about a vulnerable topic, do they step back or keep prodding? If you don't want to go out on a weeknight, do they listen or start shaming you?

She said someone not respecting the word "no" is a huge red flag in all relationships — and, ironically, can push you away from a friend even more.

6. They gossip in a way that tears people down

Not all gossip is bad, Kirmayer said, nor does it always mean someone who talks about others will talk about you.

"Sometimes, our friends are gossiping as a need to secure support or to set out our perspectives and experiences," she said. It can be a way to work through a problem or grow closer via shared values.

That being said, there's a difference between healthy gossip and a friend frequently putting other friends down to make themselves feel better. In general, she said a solid friendship should present other ways of connecting besides what you don't like about other people.

But if you get a pit in your stomach about all the small things your friend rips other people apart over, it might be a sign that they'd speak just as badly about you, too.

7. They're not interested in your growth

If you've known each other for a while, you'll inevitably experience some changes in your careers, interests, relationships, health, or general outlooks on life.

That's why Kirmayer said it's a great sign if your friend asks questions and actively wants to keep learning about you, "and that you aren't only repeating the same conversations that you've had for years on end."

If a friend is only invested in a past version of you — and actively rejects the newer updates in your life — it can be a sign that you're outgrowing each other.

Read the original article on Business Insider