Life can feel like a popularity contest. And so we might worry about how well-liked we truly are.
You’re not alone if you’ve felt this way. Nobody wants to feel on the outside. Yet many of us do. In fact, a whopping 54% of people say they feel like no one understands them.
And one scientific study certainly won’t help in our paranoia. Because it claims that as many as half of our so-called friends might not feel the same way as we do.
Now that stings!
So how can you tell whether your friends actually like you?
Let’s take a look.
1) They don’t only contact you to ask for favors
If your so-called friends only reach out when they want something from you — then they may not be real friends.
Offering help and leaning on one another is important in building trust and intimacy within our connections.
But it needs to work both ways.
If you start to feel used or abused by certain friends, then it’s a red flag.
Perhaps you’re not getting what you need out of that friendship.
And perhaps they are only keeping you around because of what you do for them, rather than who you are.
2) You feel like you can be yourself around them
You should never feel like you have to wear a mask in order to be accepted. Especially not with your friends, who are supposed to like you for you.
So if you find it challenging to be yourself around your friends, ask yourself why.
Could it be that you have low-self esteem that needs a little boost? Or might it be that you and your friend are not really compatible?
Rather than try to force yourself to fit in with people you have little in common with, it’s better to find connections with people who you do vibe with.
Because in a world of over 8 billion people, I promise you they are out there.
3) You can call on them during the hard times
Friends make the fun times better, but also the hard times more bearable.
At its heart, friendship is about cooperation. And that sense of cooperation is what has allowed our species to thrive.
Real friends care about you. That means they’re not only interested when you’re riding high. They want to be there for you when you are experiencing your lows.
Of course, this also relies on you allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to do so. Even the greatest of friends can’t be there for you if you don’t let them.
But be rest assured that a friend who comes to you in your time of need clearly cares about you.
4) You hang out in real life and not just online
Ok, I’m going to start with a caveat. Because online relationships can be genuine friendships.
But only if there’s a practical obstacle to real-life hangouts — for example, the fact you live a long way away from one another.
What I’m really referring to here is the collection of so-called “friends” and followers we often accumulate on social media, that are barely acquaintances, let alone real friends.
Because in these cases, sadly the odds are stacked against us.
One poll for the Pew Research Center found that far from having hundreds of friends, most of us consider ourselves to have only a few.
“98% of teens say they have one or more close friends: 78% say they have between one and five close friends, while 20% have six or more close friends.”
This is backed up by research that shows people struggle to sustain more than five quality close relationships.
The reality is then that we have to prioritize. And so we will make time for those that matter most to us.
5) They make time for you
If we have a limited amount of time and emotional capacity for relationships, then we can assume that the people we make time for mean something.
Of course, priorities shift and change. You may find yourself falling down a friend’s priority list when they have a lot going on.
But generally speaking, we create unspoken hierarchies in which we give the most time to the things and people that feel most important.
So if your friends make time for you, then it means something.
6) You aren’t always the one making plans
I’ve let several friendships drop in my life because of this next one.
I’m happy to be proactive. I realize it’s not always personal (or even conscious) when friends fail to make plans.
But it has limits.
You should never feel like you’re constantly having to chase down friends.
Friendships require reciprocity to work.
If you are always the one reaching out, and extending invites, it can get tiresome.
Because after a while it suggests your friendship is far more one-sided than it should be.
7) They never try to make you feel small
Friends that are overly competitive, seem to take pleasure in your misfortune, or enjoy getting one over on you are not your friends.
This falls into the toxic relationship category.
Because real friends should be supportive.
Of course, conflicts can occur, it’s normal. And that can cause some pain.
But friends certainly don’t go out of their way to ever make you feel sad or small.
If you feel overly criticized, chastised or the constant butt of the joke — they’re not a good friend. Period.
8) They are prepared to put themselves out for you
I’m a really lazy person. I also hold my hands up to certain selfish characteristics.
For example, I can’t be bothered to do things that I don’t want to do. And so often I don’t.
So when I do, it’s for a good reason.
That might mean going to a restaurant I don’t like because someone else does. Or doing an activity I find boring because another person enjoys it.
Because I also recognize that’s part of creating mutual relationships that consider everyone’s needs — and not just my own.
I am willing to put myself out for the people I care about. And that’s a sign of a genuine friendship.
Because let’s face it, nobody enjoys helping their friend move. Nobody particularly likes running someone else’s errands for them.
We do these things because the person matters to us.