Little Things That Can Harm A Friendship

Updated January 22, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Online Counseling Can Help You Organize Your Thoughts

Sometimes friendships might last for life. Other times, friendships can be situational, lasting only through certain points or places in our lives. No matter what dynamic you are a part of, it can be important to avoid the little things that could hurt your friendship. 

Often, simple fixes, like habit changes and open communication, can save friendships before it is too late, but sometimes the underlying problem is not recognized in time. If you find yourself wondering why your friendships do not last, consider if you are guilty of any of the following.


We usually love our friends, and the closer we are to them the more we may feel that we need them in our lives. But like anything, we should maintain balance. Some friendships naturally keep in constant communication, with both parties frequently checking in with one another throughout the day. However, if you or your friend seems to want some space, then take some time to focus on other aspects of life and trust that you can still talk experiences and conversations when it’s time.

Sometimes people just need their personal space or individual quiet time. Maintaining boundaries when it comes to communication with a friend, no matter how close you are, can be vital. The bond should feel supportive and open regardless of how often you keep in touch.

Not Talking Enough

Just like too much communication can harm our relationships, too little of it can work against us too. If you are not getting to know each other on a deeper level, meeting each other's needs can be challenging because those needs might not be being voiced.

Spending quality time together in adult friendships can be difficult to organize. With the demands of a career, family, and personal obligations ever-present, friendship can become something that gets last-minute attention. If you feel you are too busy for your friends or find yourself often thinking about how long it has been since you last contacted them, consider seeing where you can restructure your time and attention to maintain that support system.

Lack Of Empathy

In friendship, it can be important to distinguish between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and identify with someone else's situation. Sympathy is the simple act of feeling sorry for someone (which not everyone likes). While you may not always know what is going on in your friend's life or how a certain situation may be affecting them, you should always be able to put yourself in their shoes and be part of their support system.

A friendship that lacks empathy can quickly become a toxic friendship. Toxic friendships have no balance between individuals, allow negative criticism for one another's choices, and can even make people feel as if they are walking on eggshells when they are together.

Sometimes it can be difficult to point out a toxic friendship. If you engage in behaviors like rudely joking about your friend's clothing or relationships, feeling envious or the need to “bring them down a level,” or frequently disapproving of their personal or professional choices, you might be laying the foundation for a toxic relationship. A lack of empathy could be the culprit.

Voicing Controversial Ideas Too Often

It can be possible to have a friendship with someone you have very little in common with in terms of cultural upbringing, religious beliefs, or socioeconomic status. The one time you may struggle maintaining a polar-opposite friendship is when moral values come into play.

Lacking Appreciation Or Balance

Friendships typically need a certain level of appreciation to survive, just like any relationship. If you are constantly asking your friend for favors, yet never seem gracious or available when they need help, the friendship might not last.

While it is not necessary to keep a running count of who has done what for whom, should keep a fairly equal balance in the relationship when it comes to giving and receiving.

Peer Pressuring

It can ruin the friendship when obligation or coercion is an element in your relationship. Try not to make your friend feel like they must do something, think something, or be something that they are not, even if you firmly believe it is for their own good.

Knowing It All

A successful friendship typically requires both parties to feel as if they hold equal positions in the relationship. Have the humility sometimes to sit back and listen to your friend in a student role. 

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Each friendship tends to be different, and only you can determine where the boundaries lie. As long as both parties in the friendship work to achieve balance, respect one another, and focus on what they do have in common, the bond will likely last. 

For additional support in knowing how to maintain friendships, you might want to seek an in-person or online counselor. They can help teach you the skills needed to improve friendships and how to identify toxic ones.

If talking to a counselor is something you’re interested in but don’t have the time, you can reach out to BetterHelp online therapy. You can meet with counselors wherever you feel most comfortable, whether that be your home or in your car or anywhere else, and at a time that best fits you. Our counselors can assist you in making the changes you need for lasting friendships. Studies show that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy in treating a wide range of mental illnesses. But even if you do not have a diagnosed mental illness, online counseling can make a big difference for you, as talking to a neutral party can help you develop strategies for managing your thoughts, emotions, and actions. 

Below are a couple of counselor reviews from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

“Crystal is the best counselor with understanding, good listener, no judgment, and very patient with me. Since the first session I started with my problems all over the place she helps me find myself get back on my feet, gain back my self-esteem and guide me through to what first priority for myself should be. All practices she gave me helps me handle my anxiety and panic attacks, helps me handle with toxic relationship in the time I need it most. I'm so grateful for that.” 

“I feel safe talking to her and feel she has sought to understand my struggles with empathy. I have not trusted any other counselor in the same way.” 

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