As a kid, I admired the friendships between the female characters from iconic sitcoms “Girlfriends” and “Living Single.” Despite the friendship red flags, they had a sisterhood I wanted to duplicate. These women were funny, ambitious, successful, held each other down, and lived their best lives!
Girlfriends and Living Single were among the few shows during the mid-90s and early 2000s exploring the boundaries of true friendship with women. Although these were fictional relationships, you are reminded of someone with a similar personality.
Knowing what I know today, I’d tell my 20-year-old self to be cautious of female friendships that lack reciprocity. During my college years, I often poured into friendships and didn’t know how to give it back in return.
Healthy female friendships are honest and allow you to be vulnerable. You’re able to communicate openly; it’s supportive and promotes bonding. Keep these qualities in mind as you encounter new gal pals.
In this post, you will learn five friendship red flags I wish I’d Identified in my 20s and how you can deal with them.
How Do You Define Friendship?
Before I jump into what you should look for when navigating your female friendships, let’s define friendship. Friendships are loving intimate relationships with someone you are familiar with and with whom you share similar interests. Healthy friendships are one’s you’re committed to despite the challenges that arise. You pick your girl up when she falls, encourage her, and invest in her growth.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them.Ecc 4: 9-10 (NIV)
Don’t Ignore the Red Flags
As a society, we see the signs that tell us when a person isn’t for us, but for some reason, we ignore them while hoping for the best. Whenever I’d talk to my mother about concerns I had about my girlfriends, she’d tell me that when people show you who you are, you believe them.
We like to think that all relationships, like female friendships, are all created equal, but they aren’t. There are at least ten different types of female friendships. When evaluating your friendships, you should consider a person’s culture, upbringing, and education because these factors can affect how they show up in the relationship.
It’s easy to say that you can’t put a group of women together without a catfight breaking out, but if you can identify the traits in toxic friendships, you’ll save yourself the heartache.
Here are the friendship red flags you should know about:
Pretty Privilege Friends
These women are hyper-aware of their beauty and its power, whether they admit it or not. Attention and opportunities come easy to them, even if their talent or skills are questionable. I don’t deny that some truly incredible women have beauty and brains, but how often have you doubted a woman’s achievements because of her looks?
In living single, Regine was notorious for leveraging her looks to get what she wanted. She fixated on wigs, weight, and designer outfits to hook her dream man, job, and lavish lifestyle. Behavior like this can be dangerous because this question remains: what skills can you fall back on once your youth fades?
I’ve witnessed friendships end over pretty privilege because their selfishness led to competition and a lack of accountability in the relationship. It promoted the mindset that you don’t have to work hard because your appearance will do it for you. On Mornings with Nick Cannon, rapper Saweetie discussed how “Pretty Privilege” worked against her.
Beware of the “Yes” Woman
It’s essential to surround yourself with supportive friendships; however, you must watch out for the friend who says yes to everything you say and do. Yes, men, or in this case, yes, women, can stunt your growth.
None of us are perfect, but you need friends to call you out when your behavior is unacceptable and keep you grounded. Just think about all the times you received sound advice and ignored it because it wasn’t part of your agenda.
The Strong Friend
We all have a Khadijah James in our circle. You view her as a strong woman. She has leadership qualities and seems to have everything all together but has difficulty accepting help from others. In season one, episode 5, Khadijah struggled to ask for and receive support from her friends when Flava Magazine was $2000 in the hole.
Khadijah’s situation is a red flag because, as Khadijah later admits in the episode, she kept telling herself a story that stopped her from accepting help from the girls. The type of strength Khadijah displayed caused more harm than good. She felt irritable, alone, guilty, and burdened by the situation.
Friends with The Tea
In every group of friends, one person always knows everyone’s business and loves to tell it. They don’t like to share personal information. If you know everyone’s business, it’s safe to say others know intimate details about you. Entertaining gossip makes building trust challenging and violates confidentiality with your girls.
Nasty/nice girlfriends are the women who don’t know how to compliment correctly and is a huge friendship red flag. They start saying something nice and follow up with a slick comment. The compliments have a jealous undertone, leaving you wondering if you were just praised or played.
Women who behave like this like to cover it up with I’m just being honest, or you know it’s true. All this is passive-aggressive behavior and an indication that they may be harboring negative feelings that they don’t know how to communicate.
What’s The Remedy?
Communication and loyalty are vital for any relationship to be successful. Be open and honest about your feelings when your friends exhibit these behaviors. We quickly walk away once we feel we were wronged because it’s easy. But people aren’t disposable, and you can’t control how positive or negative criticism is received. You can speak your piece and find ways to move forward.
It’s best not to settle for friendships that don’t honor or respect you. Women can have meaningful positive friendships that last a lifetime. Friendships are like partnerships. As a person’s life changes, so will the state of the relationship, and you’ll have to adjust.
When confronted with red flags in your friendship, evaluate the people’s roles. Some friends never grow out of stages or behavior, while others do. Ignoring issues never solves problems.
Tips From a Communication Coach
In an interview with Leilany Lima, a coach that helps leaders develop leadership and communication skills suggests creating friendship guidelines. A friendship guideline helps clarify intentions and ensures both parties are heard.
One way I’ve confronted red flags in my friendships was to check in and ask how they are doing. You’d be surprised by the power check-ins have, and I’m not talking about the comment you left on your girlfriend’s social media when you saw that one post that didn’t belong. I’m talking about investing in the well-being of your friendships.
When one of my best friends was diagnosed with mental health challenges, I asked her what she needed from me as her friend instead of saying,” I’m here if you need anything.” I understood that she would have willingly come to me if she were already confident in asking for help. So I took a little initiative and reassured my friend that she was safe, that I had her back, and that we would ride the storm together.
Reflecting on my twenties, I wish I had learned that friendship red flags couldn’t be resolved in a half-hour, as I saw in Girlfriends and Living Single. After all, it’s not so easy when facing one of those situations.
You’re bound to encounter the strong friend, the gossipy friend, the friend who relies on her beauty to get ahead, and the friend who only makes nasty/nice comments at some point in your life. The difference is that now you know what it looks like and how to deal with it!
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