How to Avoid Mean Friends

Three Parts:Identifying Types Of Mean FriendsTaking Steps to Avoid Mean FriendsTaking Steps to Find New Friends

A good friend listens to you, cares for you, and respects you. Someone who is mean to you is not a friend. It is important to avoid mean friends even though it is sometimes difficult to do so. Having a mean friend will only make you feel bad about yourself.

Part 1
Identifying Types Of Mean Friends

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    Consider how your friend makes you feel. A good friend shouldn’t make you feel bad about yourself. They should be respectful and support you no matter what your situation. If you feel self-conscious around a certain person, it’s a warning sign that you might have a mean friend.
    • Take some time to reflect on how your friend treats you. Do they make jokes about you that make you feel bad? Do they listen to you when you are telling them about a problem you’re having? Ask yourself some questions about their behavior towards you and see what you come up with.
    • You shouldn’t feel self-conscious around a good friend. You should feel like you can be yourself without putting yourself at risk of being made fun of or teased. A good friend should encourage and support you, no matter what.[1]
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    Determine if the friend is a bad influence. Do you find that being around your friend makes you do things you later regret?[2] Some friends allow bad sides of your personality to come out. Your friends help shape your attitude, so if you’re around negative people who do bad things, you’re likely to do so, too.[3]
    • Consider whether you feel energized after seeing your friend or whether you feel a little down in the dumps. This may be hard to determine, since other factors may also influence your mood. Still, try to notice a pattern and see how your friend affects your mood.[4]
    • Think about recent decisions you’ve made in the company of your friend. Ask yourself what kinds of decisions these were and whether you felt good or bad about them afterwards. Consider whether your friend pushed you into these decisions.[5]
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    Consider whether you argue too much with your friend.[6] It’s OK to argue occasionally with a friend. This happens to every relationship. It’s not a good sign if you’re constantly arguing with a friend, however. This will really bring down your mood and make you feel bad.
    • Pay attention to the time you spend with your friend. See if you notice a pattern of arguing or bickering. Count up your recent arguments and determine the substance of these arguments. Some arguments may be small and not worth remembering. Others may be a sign that you have a mean friend.
    • Consider whether your friend was mean or spiteful during the argument. All friends will argue every once in a while. What’s important is how both parties handle the argument. It’s not a good sign if a person is always saying mean and hurtful things during an argument.
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    Look to see if the friend always flakes out on you. It’s not nice when a friend is constantly flaking out on you and canceling plans at the last minute. This is especially hurtful if you’re the one who’s always re-scheduling your plans.[7]
    • Pay attention to the number of times your friend cancels plans with you. Ask yourself whether you had to reschedule the plan or whether your friend asked you to reschedule. Also, pay attention to whether the friend had a legitimate excuse or not. Count the number of times your friend has cancelled plans on you and see if you notice a pattern.
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    Determine if the friend is self-absorbed. A self-absorbed friend is not much of a friend. Every time you have a problem, they’re constantly making things about themselves. We need friends who can help us through our difficulties and who don’t use pain as an opportunity to talk about their own problems.[8] Ask yourself some questions to determine if a friend is self-absorbed.
    • Does the person make you feel invisible or worthless?
    • Do they quickly lose interest in what you’re saying, even if you’re talking about a serious problem?
    • Do they always turn conversations back to themselves?[9]
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    Confirm whether the friend talks behind your back. It’s a terrible feeling to discover that a friend has been talking about you behind your back. This is a major violation of your trust. Still, it’s important you don’t jump to conclusions until you know for sure that a friend is talking about you in a negative way.
    • Watch your friend’s behavior when you see this person around other people. This can really help you determine whether you have a good friend or a mean friend. Watch to see if your friend changes around other people. Maybe they act embarrassed or don’t want to talk to you or maybe they make fun of you when they’re around other people. These are all signs of a mean friend.
    • Ask someone you trust if they’ve heard your friend saying mean things about you. Only take this step if you can really trust the person. Otherwise, you might be playing into the mean friend’s hands.
    • Confront them, if you feel comfortable doing so. Be prepared for an argument because some people might not want to admit that they’re being mean. Write a list of thing you can talk to them about. For example, you can give specific examples of when they were mean to you and what you would like them to do and how you would like them to treat you.
    • Avoid talking behind your friend’s back, too. Don’t be a mean friend yourself and talk behind your friend’s back. This will only worsen a situation and won’t make you feel good about yourself, especially if you’re trying to avoid mean friends to begin with.[10]

Part 2
Taking Steps to Avoid Mean Friends

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    Place distance between yourself and the friend. It may be difficult to distance yourself from a person you normally spend a lot of time with, but it’s important you take steps to reduce the amount of interaction you have with the mean friend. This is the only way you’ll be able to grow and find healthier friends to be around.
    • Don’t broadcast your plans to create distance. Your friend is likely to confront you if you tell your friend that you are planning to create distance. Instead, simply start making decisions on your own and keeping them to yourself.[11]
    • Reduce possibilities for interaction. This can be as simple as changing your routine. For example, change the time you leave work or school and take a different route home. It’s also a good idea to avoid places where the mean friend hangs out. Go there at different times or avoid the place altogether.
    • Find new interests. This may be difficult since it’s possible you are friends with the mean person because you share similar interests. Still, you should ask yourself whether there aren’t other things you could do with yourself and maybe some interests that you haven’t yet explored.[12]
    • Prepare for a possible confrontation. Your friend might confront you even if you aren’t obvious about your decision to create distance from the mean friend. They may notice that you are doing different things and want to know why. You don’t have to tell them the real reason if you feel you want to avoid a fight.[13]
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    Establish boundaries. An important part of your well-being depends on having emotional and physical boundaries for yourself. This will help prevent you from getting hurt. Know what kinds of behavior you will and won’t accept from others. A good friend will respect your boundaries and not make you feel bad about them.[14]
    • Decide what boundaries are important for you. This can be physical and emotional. Sometimes a person will intrude on your space or ask you questions that make you uncomfortable. Decide what boundaries you need in these areas.
    • Pay attention to any sense of discomfort. You will know when a person is overstepping your boundaries. Listen to your inner sense of self, which knows what is right and wrong for you.[15]
    • Speak up immediately when you feel a boundary has been crossed. Don’t be afraid to tell someone when they have crossed an emotional or physical boundary of yours. It is important that a person knows this so they can change and possibly apologize. Even good friends will sometimes overstep their boundaries but they will always respect your needs.[16]
    • Be polite but firm. You don’t need to apologize for your boundaries. Simply tell a person how you’re feeling and what you would like them to do or stop doing. They will listen if they are a good friend.
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    Get rid of the friend from your social media accounts. A good but difficult step for avoiding a mean friend is by deleting your friend from your social media accounts. This limits your interactions with them and prevents them from seeing things about you that they might simply use against you.
    • Log onto your social media accounts and either limit the mean friend’s access or delete the friend from your accounts completely.
    • Be prepared for a confrontation since this tends to upset a lot of people. Be mature if you choose to respond to the person. You don’t want to get into an argument where you’re just as mean as the person you’re trying to avoid.[17]

Part 3
Taking Steps to Find New Friends

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    Put yourself in new situations. The only way you’re going to avoid mean friends and find good friends is to put yourself in new situations. People tend to develop relationships based on proximity. This means that the more often you see a person, the more likely you are to develop a friendship.[18]
    • Join a club, group, or sport. A good way to meet new people is to get involved in a new activity. Join a sports club or organization but make sure that the mean friend is not already involved with it. Begin to interact with the people in the organization and try to make new friends.
    • Volunteer. This is an especially good way to meet new friends since most people who volunteer will likely be at least somewhat caring. Make an effort to talk to people involved in all aspects of volunteering, since you never know where a new friend will come from.
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    Invite someone new to do something with you. You likely know more people than you realize. Consider the possibility of developing friendships with people who you might not know very well. You might be surprised at what you find by simply talking to new people.
    • Be proactive. It takes a bit of effort to find new friends. Get out of the house and simply take a walk or go the mall. Go places where you might encounter new people and take the steps of striking up a conversation with them. This might sound difficult, especially for shy people, but remember that you don’t have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Only go places you want to go and talk to people you want to talk to.[19]
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    Look for positive traits in people. You may have thought you had a good friend who turned out to be a mean friend. Don’t worry. This happens to many people. A good friend listens, won’t judge you negatively, and is someone who you feel comfortable around without changing who you are.[20] Ask yourself the following questions when searching for a good friend:
    • How do I feel after spending time together?
    • Am I comfortable being myself around the person?
    • Does the person make me feel safe?
    • Is the person supportive?
    • Does the person treat me with respect?
    • Does the person listen to me?[21]


  • Tell a friend, an adult, or an authority about a mean friend who is also a bully. No person has the right to intimidate or bully you. You don’t have to change your behavior, your activities, or your personality for someone else.
  • Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to find new friends.

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Categories: Changing and Losing Friends