How To Avoid Forced Friendships And Let Things Develop Naturally

Photo: Noiel / Shutterstock
woman hugging woman she doesn't like because she's forcing a friendship

Cultivating healthy friendships with people is an important thing to do, but it is also important to weed out the forced friendships that are no longer benefiting you.

Urban Dictionary defines a forced friendship as a situation between two people in which one forces the other to be friends, often by suggesting activities together that friends would do but that the other person cannot turn down without seeming rude.

Sometimes certain people just aren’t meant to be in your life, and that is okay. We can often find ourselves trying to salvage a forced relationship simply out of pure kindness and not wanting to let go of that person.

However, forced friendships are sometimes not worth the time or the effort.

“Forced friendships are not natural. They are friendships with a catch, they are conditional, short-lived, and leave a bad taste after they are over,” says Keya Murthy, a clinical hypnotherapist and spiritual life coach.

RELATED: How To Make Friends As An Adult (Without Being Weird Or Clingy)

You shouldn’t be putting more energy into a friendship than the other person. The effort should always be split between two people and the energy of keeping the friendship alive needs to be reciprocated.

If you find yourself constantly making an effort to hang out, always coming up with plans for your friend, or even always being the one to pick up the phone and call, then maybe that friendship is out of obligation and is no longer or may never have been organic.

How to make sure you're not forcing a friendship instead of letting it develop naturally.

1. Let them initiate plans.

If you find yourself having to always coordinate the plans with your friend, or simply just putting in more effort than they are, then it is probably a meaningless friendship.

Sometimes people are busy and just don’t have time to socialize, but true friends will find time to send a simple text asking how you are doing or a initiate quick phone call to check-in.

You don't need to make an elaborate dinner reservation, but even a quick conversation means a lot because if people genuinely want to talk to you, they will make the time.

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2. Be patient when meeting new people.

Sometimes it can be hard to figure out the line between an acquaintance and a close friend.

There are four stages of friendship:

  1. Acquaintance
  2. Peer friendship
  3. Close friendship
  4. Best Friendship

It’s always good to never force interactions, and let things happen naturally. Forcing people into the close friends' box can seem overeager and also be viewed as trying to force a friendship.

Understanding that real friendships happen naturally and not to try and force an acquaintance into being a best friend after only a few short hours or days, leaves room for there to be fewer forced interactions and awkward moments.

3. Don’t hold onto friendships that have run their course.

People change, and so do friendships. Friendship breakups hurt, but sometimes it’s for the best when you realize that maybe you should take a step back from a friendship that is no longer serving you, such as a controlling or unhealthy friendship.

When someone expects or demands special treatment in a relationship, or is always talking down to you or being rude and condescending, that is an example of a controlling friend, and you should know the signs so that you don't subject yourself to any kind of toxic friendship.

Staying in a friendship with someone when you know that it should end can also be categorized as a forced friendship. It’s best to let that person go while you are still on good terms, and maybe somewhere down the line, you can reconnect.

RELATED: 10 Uncomfortable Signs You're Outgrowing Your Friendship

4. Set boundaries.

Setting boundaries is important in any relationship, but some people don’t seem to recognize it in friendships.

If you find yourself always saying yes to plans even though you know you won’t enjoy them, or feeling like you have this sense of obligation towards your friend then you might benefit from setting boundaries.

If you make your preferences clear and create healthy boundaries, it won’t allow friends to take advantage of you and put you in situations that you wouldn’t normally want to be in.

5. Accept that not everyone is going to like you.

It’s okay to not be everyone’s favorite person. You shouldn’t force friendships with people just for the sake of trying to get them to like you.

Even if you think hanging out with that person all of the time will change their mind, it most likely won’t, and interactions like that will only create forced friendships.

It’s best to move on and find contentment in the philosophy of quality over quantity.

6. Learn to be happy alone.

It’s always nice to have friends and be social, but there is beauty in finding happiness within yourself.

Be your own best friend, and you won’t find yourself in those unwanted and toxic friendships with people.

It can be picking up a new hobby, spending the day with yourself by trying new restaurants or maybe seeing that movie you’ve been dying to see. Whatever it is, there is no harm in doing things alone.

Your best companion is always the one staring back at you in the mirror.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn who covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics.