People are sharing the red flags that made them realize someone was a bad friend
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A communications professor I had in college once shared an analogy about friendship that has stuck with me for over 20 years: friends are like tools in a toolbox, there are different people for different jobs.

There are some friends that are great to party with but may not be there for you when you need a shoulder to cry on. There are those you text with about pop culture or politics but may not see very often in person.

There are drinking buddies, workout friends, and those that you may only talk to about one shared interest. There's also that coworker you hung out with every day at lunch then never saw them again after changing jobs.

Then there are also those lifelong friends that are like part of your family.


These friends are all part of the toolbox we carry with us throughout life.

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Sadly, we don't take all of our friends along for the entire journey. There are some we realize aren't really friends at all but it takes a while to come to the realization. Before the big defriending there are always hints along the way that things just aren't right.

Reddit user dragonxgal, asked people on the askReddit subforum "What are red flags in a friendship most people brush away?" Their candid answers provide a great way to identify the people we think are friends, but really aren't.

"When you hang out with them it feels like you're defusing a bomb when theres nothing going on right then." — The DialupGamer

"Friends that only care to talk about their own success and aren't genuinely happy for you and yours unless it amounts to less than their own." — 313JoJo

"Friends who are good to you when one on one but constantly put you down In group settings. This is a big sign of insecurity/jealousy. Other signs: inappropriate attention seeking behaviors, trying to twist the situation on you when confronted about things, not respecting your boundaries, is super friendly with new people but in a disingenuous "I wanna be liked the most" way, constant gaslighting, getting mad at you for not going by the exact same moral playbook as them, when in group settings they get really uncomfortable and try to change the subject or put you down extra if attention is on you, acting they like can take constructive feedback but actually taking it out on you in small ways throughout the rest of the day." — -MattTheRat-

"Continually feeling like you want to say something but should hold your tongue." — WilletteKinoshita

"Friends who gossip excessively. If they're talking about other people, chances are they're talking about you." — Jalaphi23

"Always asking for favours but never there when you need them to return one." — ayeblondie

"Inability or unwillingness to apologize when he or she does something wrong. It's symptomatic of an ego issue that will eventually infect every aspect of your friendship." — ohShrub

"Having their damn phone in their face the whole time. If they do that, they don't want a friend, they want company. It's not the same." _splug

"Friends that are a one way street. I was always the one to message, call, or make plans with them. I was always the one to check up on them to see if they were okay. I always offered a helping hand and be there for them.

"I decided to stop to see if they would reach out to me, but we never spoke to me again. Oh, well." — llunagirl

"When you realize that you are more yourself when they're not around." — kdizzleswizzle

"If you have had a friend for a long time, but you only seem to be able to talk about memories in the past.

"Each time you get together or exchange messages, it's 'Remember in high school....' or 'Remember that time when....' - Could be a sign that you both have grown apart and do not have much in common today that you can connect on." — Intersectaquire

"When they cancel plans, they always do it last-minute." — TheRodgerizer

"If you think about them when you read this post." — FloatingwithObrien

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

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James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

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Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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