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How to tell if your friendship is failing - and how to fix it

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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It’s a sad fact of life, but some friendships just aren’t built to last.

While we might have swapped BFF necklaces with our closest allies at school or laced friendship bracelets around the wrists of those in our inner circle back in the day, there’s no telling whether those friendships can really stand the test of time.

After all, with potentially life-changing moments on the horizon, such as moving abroad, saving for a flat, getting married or having a baby, some friendships will inevitably fall by the wayside.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s an alarming “seven year friendship itch” to contend with, as psychologists estimate we will all undertake a “friendship turnover” every seven or so years.

But it's not all doom and gloom – Dutch sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst, who came up with the concept of a friendship itch after observing the friendships of 1007 people over seven years, reckons we can save the friendships that are most meaningful to us by nurturing them.

Nurture your most meaningful friendships to make them last

Nurture your most meaningful friendships to make them last

But how do we know which friendships need the most nurturing, and when?

As ever, Reddit users are on hand to offer their pearls of wisdom, with hundreds of people on the user generated news site chipping in to offer their thoughts on the “red flags” of friendship.



Read on to hear about when a friendship might be failing, by the people who have been there before, and remember that some friendships might just be toxic – in which case, a cull could be just the thing you need...

How to tell if your friendship is failing

In the final series of Girls, we see the four-some's friendships disintegrate

In the final series of Girls, we see the four-some's friendships disintegrate

Redditor @emplah summed up a scenario that most of us will be familiar with at some point in our lives...

“When you text them they don't respond, but when you hang out they're always on their phone.”

...While user @pm_funeral_potatoes added:

“If you’re the only one who ever initiates contact.”

User @poniesnotbronies had a point to make about sticking up for the other people in your friendship group:

“If in a friend group, one friend blatantly insults you with harmful intention and your other friend(s) don't defend you, leave the friend group.

Had it happen to me twice. Not fun.”

Always stick up for those in your friendship group

Always stick up for those in your friendship group

User @captainpotty shared a warning about one-sided friendships...

“If conversation consists of you asking them questions, but them making no effort to get to know you. Similarly, if they bitch about their problems all the time, but get impatient if you start to bitch about yours.”

…And added a worthwhile point about flakiness:

“Also flakiness with plans. I had a friend cancel mini-golfing with me six times before I finally got them to the course, and when I showed up, they'd invited another one of their friends I'd never met without even mentioning it to me.”



The sunk cost fallacy (where we continue to invest in something because we have already devoted so much time to it) made an appearance via the words of user @darth_waiter:

“Don't continue to emotionally invest in someone who doesn't seem to be bothered much either way by your absence or presence. And if the only thing you have in common is the past, leave”

If the only thing you have in common is the past, it might be time to walk away

If the only thing you have in common is the past, it might be time to walk away

…While user @mmimbulus shared a truly alarming list of red flags to look out for:

“Making it part of daily routine to make fun of you like it is their form of entertainment. Likes to vet about their life but hardly interested when you share things about your life. Never pay what they owe you.

“Insults you every now and then and at a certain point it gets annoying. Insists that you watch their favourite shows but doesn’t care about yours, and even insults it.”

Do you recognise any of the above red flags in your own friendships? If you have a problem that you want to fix, head here to read counsellor and psychotherapist Charlotte Dunsby-Ferguson’s advice on steering your friendships through thick and thin.

Images: TV/film stills

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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Features Editor at Stylist

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