18 Signs Your Friendship Isn’t a Two-Way Street

Friendships are vital for a happy and socially fulfilling life and provide us with valuable support, laughter, and shared experiences. But, like any relationship, friendships require mutual effort and reciprocity on both sides. Anything less can leave you feeling exploited and disappointed. Here are 18 red flags that could indicate that a friend isn’t as invested in your bond as you are.

You’re an Emotional Dumping Ground

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Is your friend constantly venting about their problems but never there to listen to yours? Do they show up whenever they have problems but disappear when their lives improve? A healthy friendship allows for emotional support to flow in both directions. If you feel like you’re constantly the shoulder to cry on, with no shoulder of your own to lean on, it’s a red flag.

They’re Forgetful

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According to Healthline, a friend who regularly forgets events or things that are important to you may be disrespectful, dismissive, or a bad listener. Either way, they don’t care enough about you to try to remember commitments or offer you support when you need it most. Be wary of ‘friends’ who consistently forget birthdays, your schedule, or the names of people close to you.

They Don’t Return Your Stuff

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Does your friend constantly ask to borrow things, like books, appliances, tools, and clothing, but never give them back? While forgetting now and then is okay, a gentle reminder should always prompt the return of any borrowed items. Otherwise, your so-called friend is taking advantage and maybe even looking for an easy way to steal from you.

They’re Fair-Weather

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Does your friend only seem to be around when things are going well for you? Do they come to all your parties but disappear when you’re facing challenges or need a listening ear? True friends stick with you through good times and bad and are incredibly attentive when you need extra help or support. Friends who only show up for fun times aren’t friends at all.

They’re Clingy

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Does your friend require constant attention and reassurance? Do they often show up unannounced, invite themselves, or copy your ideas or style? While this can be flattering at first, Psychology Today warns that clinginess can be a sign of a “leech-like” friend and that friends should have a balance of time together and time apart, as well as their own interests.

They Never Give Gifts (But You Do)

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If you find yourself constantly giving thoughtful gifts or surprises, but your friend rarely reciprocates, they may be enjoying the benefits of your friendship without investing in you. A friend who always accepts gifts and favors but never offers any is materialistic and exploitative, especially if they complain or pout when you don’t bring them something!

They Cancel Frequently

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Self Magazine says a flaky friend can be painful to deal with and leave you feeling alone and disappointed. If your friend constantly cancels plans at the last minute, or offers dubious excuses, consider if they’re being honest with you. A failure to follow through on commitments shows a lack of effort or organization on their part or, worse, that they got a better offer!

You Feel Drained After Spending Time Together

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Does spending time with your friend leave you feeling drained and emotionally exhausted? Energy vampires can leave you feeling empty because they focus on themselves and are often negative or engage in unkind gossip. While everyone has their bad days and dark moods, friends should make you feel energized and happy most of the time.

They Don’t Text Back

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Our lives can get busy, but a true friend will always find the time to respond to your messages, a sign that they value and respect you. If your friend frequently ignores your communications until they want something, consider how invested they are in the friendship. If your messages are left unread for days or aren’t responded to, your buddy might not care enough about you to reply.

They’re Jekyll and Hyde

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Some personality disorders can make a person unavoidably inconsistent, but this is rare. Suppose your friend’s behavior changes drastically from one moment to the next. In that case, it can be stressful and difficult to deal with. If they treat you differently depending on where you are, who you’re with, or how they’re feeling, it probably isn’t a mutually genuine friendship.

You Organize Everything

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Are you always the one initiating plans, making the effort to hang out, and keeping the friendship alive? GirlsLife says this can be a sign of a disinterested or ingenuine friend and recommends honest communication and ‘taking a step back’ to ascertain whether they care about you or are just lazily abusing your organizational skills!

They Disappear

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Friends that go AWOL for days or weeks on end, then reappear as if nothing happened, can be challenging and unpredictable. Although taking time away for essential events or personal reasons is sometimes necessary, a good friend will communicate this to you and maybe even apologize afterward. Friends who show up randomly when it suits them are best avoided.

They Regularly Borrow Money

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We all need financial assistance now and then, but our friends are not interest-free loan providers, and you should never stand for anyone who constantly expects to borrow money. One-off emergencies are one thing, but constantly paying for things because they “forgot their wallet” or “didn’t get paid yet” isn’t acceptable, especially if they rarely repay you.

They Ignore Boundaries

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Relationships require mutual respect, and that means acknowledging each other’s personal boundaries and rarely (if ever) crossing them. If your friend dismisses your feelings or repeatedly acts in a way they know you dislike or find uncomfortable, they don’t care about your feelings. Don’t stand for it! If they can’t respect your limits, they aren’t a true friend.

They’re Overly Critical

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Does your friend constantly criticize your choices, offer unsolicited advice, or make you feel judged? Friends don’t always agree or approve of everything you do, but they shouldn’t make negative comments unless out of genuine concern. Avoid a so-called friend who is never supportive or complementary, and surround yourself with positive influences instead.

They Break Promises

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On rare occasions, a true friend may break a promise due to unavoidable circumstances, but they will likely apologize and make it up to you—and won’t make a habit of it. An exploitative friend will constantly make promises they don’t intend (or cannot) keep to get what they want or make themselves look good. Beware—consistent promise breakers don’t respect you! 

Social Media Defines Your Friendship

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Any successful relationship requires genuine, mutual affection and enjoyment of spending time together. If your friendship appears fantastic on Facebook or Instagram but isn’t fulfilling in real life, your friend may see you as an accessory or social ‘booster’ rather than a person with whom to form a lasting bond. Be wary if every interaction between you involves a ‘share’ or a ‘hashtag.’

They’re Dramatic

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Some people love drama and attention, so they make as many ‘friends’ as possible so they have plenty of characters to play with! Suppose your friend constantly creates drama in your life or drags you into their own conflicts. In that case, they might be thriving on negativity rather than friendship. This behavior often comes with dramatic outbursts and emotional manipulation.

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