You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Yep, I’m aware this probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard that sentence – ever since Jim Rohn said it, blogs upon blogs have been repeating the same thing, making us re-evaluate our friendships.
But the fact that everyone chants it like a mantra doesn’t mean it’s also not true.
The people you surround yourself with do matter. And often, a good friend and a bad friend is the difference between your own success in life.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s elaborate. These are the 9 signs you’re surrounding yourself with the wrong people.
1) They don’t inspire you to reach your full potential
Peer pressure is an insanely powerful thing. If everyone in your friend group studies hard to ace their exams, chances are that you’ll join in because you’ll want to keep up.
No one wants to be the odd one out.
Unfortunately, the same logic works the other way around, too. If you’re surrounded by people who slack off in life, never try to reach any goals, and scoff at your ambitions, you’ll be more likely to give up on your dreams because you’ll simply want to fit in.
I probably don’t have to tell you that would be a terrible shame.
You deserve friends who motivate you to do better and who root for you. Not every one of your friends needs to be a successful productivity machine that leads by example, but each one should support you in reaching your full potential no matter their individual circumstances.
Friendship is about lifting each other up, not tearing each other down.
2) You feel embarrassed for being excited about something
Taylor Swift once said, “The worst kind of person is someone who makes someone feel bad, dumb, or stupid for being excited about something.”
I couldn’t agree more. Excitement is such an amazing emotion that it radiates out of us, making us laugh, jump, squeal, you name it. As a result, our behavior can get a little silly – but it is exactly in those moments of silliness where your true comfort and authenticity shine through.
If your excitement is met with judgment or disinterest, it’s like getting doused by ice-cold water. I hate it.
What’s more, it points to a much deeper issue, and that’s the fact that…
3) You’re not comfortable being your authentic self around them
A friend isn’t someone who just makes you feel less lonely. It’s someone you choose to have in your life for a reason.
If that reason isn’t an authentic connection that makes you feel great, it might be time to take a step back and unpack why you’re friends in the first place.
Do you always feel like you have to pretend when you’re around them? Do you pass your words through a filter, showing your friends only the diluted version of who you truly are?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s a huge sign you’re surrounding yourself with the wrong people. Genuine friendships are built on honesty and trust, not pretense.
4) You’re only hanging out of convenience
Similarly, friendships should serve a purpose. I’m not saying every friend is a means to an end, of course. That’s the complete opposite of what constitutes a real connection.
But I am saying that convenience alone doesn’t make for a strong bond.
I once had a friend I hung out with quite often. We had long interesting discussions, we enjoyed spending time together, and we even felt quite inspired by one another’s personality traits.
But we also lived together, which is why our interactions were so easy. It was convenient to chat in the kitchen, to walk to university together, or to go on a grocery shopping trip once in a while.
But the moment I asked her for a small favor, the friendship shattered. She refused to go the extra mile almost 100% of the time, even when it was a small bother to her and a big help to me.
That was when I realized our friendship wasn’t built on any strong foundations. There was no commitment from her side. No sense of loyalty. There was convenience, and that was about it.
The moment she moved out, we stopped speaking completely. The friendship wasn’t right, and we knew it.
5) The friendship feels like a business transaction
Another one of my ex-friends was much more committed – so much so that our friendship bordered on some strange platonic partnership.
She went above and beyond for me. She helped me with so many things I couldn’t count them if I tried. And I always tried my best to do my share, to put the same amount of effort into the friendship, and to ensure the connection thrived.
But it was simply never enough. Each time my friend did something for me, it was almost as if she filed it away for future use – “I did X and Y for you, you can’t be mad at me” – which left a bad taste in my mouth.
Oftentimes, the friendship was more like a business transaction than a genuine connection born of pure love. If I do X, I expect you’ll do Z. If I do Y four times, you shouldn’t only do it twice in return.
Inevitably, our connection broke apart.
6) You’re friends for old times’ sake
Both of the friends I mentioned above were from my hometown. A big part of our friendship was based on the fact that we’d known each other for many years, had gone to the same high school together, and had memories we could laugh about for hours on end.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to have lifelong friends who have known all the previous versions of you. My best friend is like that, and it’s the best feeling ever.
But if your history is the only reason you haven’t yet left the friendship… it’s important to realize that sometimes, history is simply not enough.
The friendships I had weren’t good for me. They weren’t grounded in genuine love but rather habit, which meant that I let a lot of toxicity pester for much longer than I should have.
Old times are a thing of the past. They won’t help you maintain your friendships in the present. Look at the person standing in front of you right now. That’s the friend you’re dealing with.
7) You’re bonded through negativity
I’ve spoken lots about bonding through genuine love in this article, and for a good reason – anything else isn’t strong enough to withstand the currents of time and the inevitable conflicts it’ll bring.
Especially if the one thing that links you together is negativity.
Do you always complain so much when you’re together that the world suddenly takes on a shade of grey? Do you gossip about other people for hours on end because you have nothing else to talk about? Do you bond over how much you hate something but rarely talk about the things you love?
Sounds like a friendship based on negativity to me. Not only is a connection like that less likely to last, but it also means that…
8) You walk away from each interaction feeling drained
When I hang out with my best friend for a few hours and then go home, I feel amazing. Not only am I brimming with all the stories she’s told me and all the positive energy we’ve exchanged together, but I also feel clean and satisfied.
In that moment, I know that our interaction was exactly what I needed to feel whole and understood.
Unfortunately, not all friends are like this. Sometimes, you walk away from an interaction and feel so drained that you avoid all socializing for the next week. Sometimes, you get so used to the exhaustion that you might not even realize your friend is the culprit.
Remember that not all social interactions are meant for you. Some people are completely fine and yet there’s still something missing between the two of you, and that’s okay.
If you don’t feel fulfilled and heard after hanging out with your friends…they might be the wrong people to surround yourself with.
9) You tend to complain a lot about them
One last thing I’ve noticed when it comes to low-quality friendships is that the way you talk about them to your other friends matters.
For example, I never complain about my bestie to anyone. Even if we disagree on some issues, we resolve them very quickly and move on. I’ve never uttered a bad word about her – not out of principle but simply because I never had anything bad to say.
Some of my friendships that have gone sour, on the other hand… that was a whole story entirely. I could spend hours venting about them to others because I felt frustrated, confused, and angry.
So, my last question to you is: How often do you complain about your friends? If your answer is something along the lines of “Oops” or “Oh my god, a lot”, it may be a sign you’re surrounding yourself with the wrong people.