Rocky Friendships

I never know whether she wants to fight or have fun.Sooner or later, you will probably find yourself in a rocky friendship. 

Maybe it’s a friendship that leaves you feeling unsure of yourself, or a friend who wants you to do things that you’re uncomfortable with. Or it could be a friendship where you both just seem to bring out the worst in each other. Strong friendships can – and often do – have rough patches, but rocky friendships are the ones that seem to never go very smoothly.  

Here are some signs that you’ve got a rocky friendship
on your hands:

  • Frequently feeling let down by your friend, even after setting expectations
  • Feeling like the friendship is unhealthy or brings out the worst in you
  • Being pressured to do things you don’t want to do
  • Not wanting to talk to your friend about the important stuff
  • Feeling like you can’t trust your friend
  • Feeling like you’re always fighting or bickering
  • Feeling like the friendship is one-sided
  • Feeling like there’s always lots of jealousy and drama
  • Feeling that things don’t seem to get better, even when you make an effort to work through problems
  • Not really wanting to spend time with the person
  • Feeling like you don’t treat each other with much respect, and sometimes feel justified in being hurtful
  • Being afraid of being put down

Is it bullying?

Do you walk on eggshells with a particular friend? Are you afraid of what they will do or say next?  Does the friendship leave you feeling awful about yourself, or wondering what you did wrong?  If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it could mean that some of your friend’s behaviour is bullying. See our Bullying section for more information.

Recognizing that the friendship is rocky is one thing, but knowing what to do about it is another. Here are 2 ideas.

1 What’s in it for you?

Make a list of the things you’re getting out of the friendship (we’ll call this the pros). Pros might include things like “she has a really great sense of humour,” or “when we’re getting along we have lots of fun together.” Now make a list of the things that work against you in the friendship (the cons). Cons might include things like “I don’t really trust him/her” or “they don’t take my opinion seriously.” Now take a look at your lists.  Which column is longer?  Are there any points that really stick out?  Does anything surprise you about what you’ve written?  Do you feel any clearer about what it is you are getting from (or losing by) being in the friendship?

2 Don’t let it get you down

Rocky friendships are hard to deal with because you might value the friendship in spite of the hurt it causes.  Don’t feel bad about yourself if you find yourself flip-flopping between wanting to stay in the friendship and wanting to escape from it.  This confusion is natural – after all, there must be things about your friend that you like or else you wouldn’t be friends in the first place.

When you’re considering whether or not you should stay in a friendship,
there are a few things that are good to keep in mind:

  • It’s your call. You are the only one who knows all of the ins and outs of this friendship, and the only one who can really understand how the pros and cons balance out.
  • It’s your timeline. Take the time you need to think things through before you make a decision.
  • Your happiness matters. If you’re not ready to leave the friendship but find yourself hurting a lot, it’s time to think about ways to increase your emotional safety. A counsellor would be happy to help you with this – why not call us at 1-800-668-6868?

Is it time to end your rocky friendship?


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Last Reviewed August 2013 by the Kids Help Phone Counselling Team


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