- Every time you’re with the person, they’re talking about someone else. First of all, this is gossip and therefore you shouldn’t take part in it. But even beyond keeping things classy, this is also a red flag that they will be the first one to talk to someone else about you. Also, make sure you note if the person actually separates themselves from whoever they’re complaining about. There is nothing worse than someone who talks about how terrible a person or people group is (even if they’re right) yet condones their behavior by still spending time with them and not saying anything. This probably means that they don’t legitimately feel the way they act around you.
- Complaining. Okay, so we all need a little vent sesh every now and then about whatever stress we’re dealing with. But when it is constant negativity, it will do nothing but bring you down all the time. It’s unhealthy to be in a “friendship” with someone who constantly drains you without filling you up. Eventually, you’ll be running on empty.
- Habits. I think it’s pretty safe to say we all have at least one thing in our life that makes us want to wear a rubber band around our wrist and pluck ourselves every time we slip up. Probably not the most effective method, but you get what I’m saying. It’s so important to have friends that are intentionally forming godly habits while striving to break the ungodly ones. Why? Because you become like the 5 people you spend the most time around.* So, eventually, no matter how many times you promise you won’t, you will pick up those bad habits too. Plus, you want people surrounding you that are trying to better themselves through the power of the Spirit to become more like Jesus. It will inspire you to do the same.
- Time. Does it seem like you’re always the one reaching out about hanging out? Does it feel like they’re basically just fitting you into their schedule instead of intentionally making time to be with you out of want instead of obligation? Do they usually only reach out when they need something from you? You are valuable and your time is valuable. You’re exchanging moments of your life to invest in this person! Make sure the feeling is mutual.
- Distance. Or rather, distance and secrets. The most likely chance is if someone is creating space, it’s because they’ve got things going on they don’t want you to see. Not necessarily because they’re afraid you’ll “judge” them, but probably because they don’t want you to call them out on it – even out of love. They’re probably happy right where they are. Or, maybe they’re not and they’re honestly just ashamed. But, in my experience, if you have a heart-to-heart with someone and nothing changes or they just create more space, let it go. Seasons change, and with that, so do friend groups. Sometimes you outgrow each other. It’s natural, and while there will probably be a period of mourning, be thankful for what was and what it taught you and embrace the new people who will enrich your life.