Friends or Frenemies? How to Tell If Your Friends Are Holding You Back

The last thing you want to think about, when you have a really good friend, is whether or not they are worth keeping around. Friends actually have a huge influence on the way we live our lives and the decisions we make, though. If you have a “friend” who never supports you or seems happy when you succeed, they might actually be holding you back, and you didn’t even know it.

Friends or frenemies? Here’s how to tell if your friends are holding you back from living the life you want and achieving your goals.

They question your choices for all the wrong reasons

Women Walking and Jumping

Picture this: you have great news, and you haven’t told anyone yet. You have finally decided where you are going to grad school, and it’s all the way across the country. You are ecstatic, and immediately ask your friend to meet you so you can finally share the good news with someone you trust.

Things don’t exactly go the way you planned, though. Instead of being happy for you and congratulating you when she hears the news, your friend seems angry about it, as if you have somehow hurt her feelings by telling her your good news.

“Why are you doing this?” she might ask. “Are you sure this is really what you want?”

This doesn’t make sense to you. Why is your friend not happy for you? She might be jealous. She might want what you have, and is upset you beat her to it. The most likely cause is that she already feels abandoned and betrayed. She is questioning your decision because it affects her negatively, and doesn’t really take your feelings into consideration.

This isn’t a good sign for your friendship. A friend will be happy for you regardless of how your decision affects them. A frenemy is more likely to feel jealous and hurt when you share good news, especially if it in some way affects them. They might be having a hard time communicating their feelings, so don’t take this too personally. Don’t let their attitude hold you back from the things you want and need to do in your own life for the sake of your own growth and happiness.

They might be concerned, but not for your own well-being

Female Friends Talking

Imagine now that, instead of having a piece of really great news to share, you have bad news. You didn’t get into the graduate program you were really hoping would accept you. You ask your friend to meet you, because you’re absolutely devastated and need someone to talk to.

Your friend seems fairly supportive … at first. She lets you talk through your frustrations and is there for you in the moment. But then she starts trying to encourage you, and something about it doesn’t seem quite right.

“Everything is going to be fine,” she says. “This means you won’t have to move away, and we can still see each other and hang out. I know you’re upset, but maybe this is for the best.”

Your friend is concerned for you … right? Maybe not. They might actually be concerned because whatever negative situation you’re in, in their eyes, will somehow affect them negatively as well. Even if they rush to “help” you and be there for you, pay attention to their language. A true friend will focus on you, your health and well-being and your feelings, instead of themselves or even your friendship and how your situation could change it.

They see you as something to compete against

Girls Racing

There’s a difference between people who are naturally competitive and people who are determined to compete against you. This can be confusing when you have a friend who always seems to try and prove she’s better than you are. What did you do wrong? Honestly, you didn’t do anything wrong, and that’s what your friend has a problem with.

Your friend, psychologically, might just be someone who bases the quality and worth of her relationships on how much she can get out of them. If she feels you’re getting a bigger piece of the friendship pie than she is, she is likely to see you as a threat and will try to “one-up” you in any way she can.

Friendship is not a competition, and in reality, responding to her feelings by continuing to compete with her is only distracting you from your own life and goals. She’s not worth it. Just keep doing what you’re doing and hope she’ll back off. If she doesn’t, be open and honest with her about how that makes you feel.

They always give their input before listening to all of what you have to say

Female Friends Walking with Bike

If you have a friend who isn’t a very good listener, it’s probably a sign she doesn’t really have your best interest in mind. At first, it might seem genuine and helpful when she immediately starts dishing out advice and telling you how your situation makes her feel. She’s relating to you, and trying to help. That’s good, right?

You didn’t necessarily come to her for advice or to hear her opinion, though. You came to her because you needed someone to listen to you, someone to be there while you talked through a problem. If she’s not doing a good job of that, take a step back and consider if she is really in it to help you, or just prefers to hear herself talk.

Some people just don’t know the proper way to listen when you’re talking to them, and that’s not your fault. But if your friend is consistently talking over you, putting words in your mouth or giving you advice you never really wanted in the first place, that only takes away from what you came here to accomplish. Your friend is holding you back, even if they don’t realize it.

It is okay to distance yourself from friends who hurt more than they help. You deserve to live the best life you can imagine, and nothing is worth throwing that away, not even a frenemy.