Are You a Bad Friend?

group of friends laughing
Photo: iStock
Being a friend as a grown-up takes a lot more work than it did when you were playing in the sandbox. Find out if you’re a fair-weather friend or a friend till the end!

Friendship was so much easier in fourth grade, when you could judge your bond by one simple metric: whether you sat next to each other in the cafeteria. Now? The world's trickier -- especially with high school friends, college friends, work friends and all those aforementioned childhood friends (not to mention your 300 Facebook friends). So, are you a good friend, or is there someone out there who's silently holding a grudge against you? Let's look at some common bond-testing scenarios and get to the bottom of this, once and for all.

  1. Photo by Thinkstock / The Nest

    Scenario: You forget to give your friends a wedding gift.

    Verdict: Not (necessarily) a bad friend.

    Bad manners? Bad karma? Absolutely. But most of the time, a wedding gift snub is a result of flakiness, not malice. A shocking number of people -- especially single dudes -- just don’t really get the score keeping involved with wedding gifts, and they think it’s no big deal. A true friend will probably laugh at your naivete or be a bit pissed at your lack of etiquette, but she shouldn’t let it kneecap your friendship.

  2. Photo by Jamie Hammond Photography / The Nest

    Scenario: You skip your friend’s wedding.

    Verdict: Yep, you’re a bad friend.

    Missing a friend’s wedding is the ultimate sign of disrespect, and it sends the signal that you consider that person to be a casual acquaintance, not a real confidante. In fact, not only are you a bad friend, you’re a bad person with a cozy future in hell. (Kidding!)

  3. Photo by Thinkstock / The Nest

    Scenario: You forget a birthday.

    Verdict: Bad friend if you’re a girl. Not a bad friend if you’re a guy.

    Double standard? Not really. Women are known to celebrate birthdays for an entire month. Men celebrate birthdays like they celebrate Tuesday. If a guy forgets your birthday, all it means is that he hasn’t been on Facebook.

  4. Photo by Yunhee Kim / The Nest

    Scenario: You never send thank-you cards.

    Verdict: Not a bad friend.

    This is a failure in manners, not friendship – there’s a subtle but crucial distinction. The person who flakes on cards is like the person who chews with their mouth open (smack, smack, smack)! It's rude, but it's not a core flaw.

  5. Photo by Veer / The Nest

    Scenario: You never call them.

    Verdict: Bad friend.

    Think of friendships like dating. If they’re chronically the one who makes the first call, then you’re showing that you’re just not that into them. True, maybe you’re just not a phone person (guilty as charged). But every now and then, when you’ve got a few minutes to spare, make the effort.

  6. Photo by Steve Giralt Studio / The Nest

    Scenario: You gossip about them to other friends.

    Verdict: Bad friend.

    It’s tempting. When Jill tells you that she had a sex dream about Justin Bieber, you want to dish to your mutual friends and share a good laugh. Fight the urge. Finding out that a friend’s been talking about you behind your back ranks high on the hurt meter.

  7. Photo by Veer / The Nest

    Scenario: You tell them their butt looks fat in those pants.

    Verdict: Good friend.

    This is what friends do: Deliver the hard truth -- tell you that you have celery in your teeth or to stop hooking up with abusive jerks. If friends can’t give it to you straight, who can?

    Jeff Wilser is the author of The Maxims of Manhood and The Man Cave Book, and Editor ofThePlunge.com. You can follow him on Twitter.