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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

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