7 Unhealthy Expectations That Ruin Friendships

7 Unhealthy Expectations That Ruin Friendships

From the beginning of time, relationships have been important. All too often, Christians solely focus on marriage and parenting relationships within the Bible. Within the Bible, however, there are several mentions of men and women who made a choice to be a source of knowledge, companionship, and support for each other. Whether you consider the friendships of Naomi and Ruth or Jesus and Peter, it is easy to find the importance of those we allow into our lives in this capacity. However, in a society where face-to-face interaction is constantly dwindling and we have more virtual “friends” than ever, it’s even more important to consider how we can maintain healthy and honoring friendships. Creating clear boundaries and expectations can be instrumental in having relationships that will be long-lasting.

With this in mind, here are 7 unhealthy expectations that ruin friendships.

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  • 1. Friends Should Believe the Same Things

    1. Friends Should Believe the Same Things

    In a world that is social-media-driven, it can be easy to watch friendships unravel publicly. This can be often seen in moments of political, racial, or social unrest within the country. One friend will express their emotion and suddenly the other will recognize the vast difference of opinion. This can happen just as easily over issues like vaccination, sexuality, and religion. Time and time again, friendships that seem secure will suddenly become destroyed over a miscommunication and difference of belief. Every time we allow a disagreement to separate us it is our way of silently saying “believe like me or you’re out.”  

    Yet, we see that only spending time with those who are just like us was far from what Jesus did while on earth. In fact, it would seem He purposely surrounded Himself with people with various viewpoints and lifestyles. He didn’t shy away from the tough topics or allow them to change how He saw the person, instead, He looked at the heart. Though some behaviors or beliefs may not allow a person to be your best friend, we cannot expect everyone to be a mirror of who we are. 

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  • 2. Friendships Are the Priority over All Other Relationships

    2. Friendships Are the Priority over All Other Relationships

    Although friends are important, they were never meant to be exclusive. Many times, friendships can become territorial. In this manner, one friend becomes jealous if it seems the other is spending time with someone else. This can cause great discomfort and even be a form of manipulation. If your friend cannot spend time with someone else without you being jealous, this can signal an unhealthy relationship. 

    In addition, friends should recognize the boundaries that must take place when marriage and children are involved. Spouses and parental responsibilities should always be priorities. When friendships overstep this, it can cause resentment within marriages. Friends should seek to be understanding and recognize that they don’t “own” the other’s time and space. When we fail to do so, it is only a matter of time before tension arises on every side. 

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  • 3. Friends Can Say Whatever They Want to Each Other

    3. Friends Can Say Whatever They Want to Each Other

    Being a friend does not mean we have free reign to comment or criticize in every situation. In Christian friendships, there can be a desire to focus on the “iron sharpens iron” verse. In other words, we can assume its always healthy to correct one another. However, it is important to speak with wisdom and ask the Lord for help on sharing on tougher topics. Even the closest friendships can be destroyed from a harsh word or constant criticism. Friendships should be a source of encouragement versus just a place of correction. Remember, a friend is a companion, not your child. 

    A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

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  • 4. Friends Can't Say "No" to One Another

    4. Friends Can't Say "No" to One Another

    Any relationship that does not allow you to say “no” is one of control. Though this may sound harsh, it is impossible to always say yes. There will be times when the answer is simply “no.” A perfect example of this is a friend who always needs to borrow money. Truthfully, there may be many times you can give. 

    However, if giving to your friend means you won’t be able to go on a much-needed date with your spouse or purchase your children shoes, the choice should be clear. We may find ourselves not wanting to disappoint or hear the backlash of saying “no.” However, a good friend shouldn’t expect you to be the answer to every problem. Instead, they should understand that you have your unique set of responsibilities that also require your attention. Saying “no” should never be a deal-breaker for a friendship.

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  • 5. Friends Should Always Listen to Each Other's Advice

    5. Friends Should Always Listen to Each Other's Advice

    There’s good advice, bad advice, and Godly advice. When consulting a friend, we may not know exactly which we will get. In an ideal world, our friends will always lead us towards the Lord. However, the reality is many offer advice that may end up being detrimental to our situation. Although their intentions may be great, their ideas may not work for you. 

    Our friendships should be safe enough to disagree without causing separation. Each should be able to listen to one another’s issue without assuming they have the only solution. When we insist our friend does exactly what we tell them to do, it is our way of saying, “I know better than you.” This ultimately creates an unhealthy environment for all involved. Again, this places the dominant friend in more of a parenting role than one of companionship.

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  • 6. You Can Only Have One Best Friend

    6. You Can Only Have One Best Friend

    Over the years, I have seen the benefit of having many friends in my corner. Although there may be seasons where I have a friend, I spend more time with, my relationship with her never cuts me off from forming deep friendship with others. I recognize that each woman brings their own value and perspective to my life. 

    Even more so, we should remain sensitive to who the Lord wants us to connect with in a deeper way for a given season. True friendships can have open arms to allowing others in because they aren’t threatened by the presence of another person. Though this does not entail we should share our most confident moments with everyone, we can seek the Lord for those we should add to our circle. 

    As a military spouse, I’ve seen firsthand that there are seasons where I have multiple close friends and others where I only have one. Either way, I remain open to who the Lord wants to bring into my life without the need to be exclusive to one person. Remember, friendship is not marriage. Having more than one is okay.

    “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14)

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  • 7. True Friendships Should Never Change

    7. True Friendships Should Never Change

    Unfortunately, even great friendships may come to an end. Geographical moves, changes in marriage or parental status, betrayal, and dishonesty, can all cause friendships to come to an end. There may even be times when the Lord speaks for us to reevaluate a relationship, they may be drawing us further away from him. Whatever the case may be, we should be open to the Lord shifting relationships and aware when separation may be needed. In cases of extreme disagreement or wrongdoing, we cannot be so clinched to the friendship that we disregard the Lord’s prompting. Though ending a friendship is extraordinarily painful, it may be what’s needed to move into where the Lord is leading us. 

    Ultimately, whenever there is an element of control, friendships will fail. Whether it’s the expectation to be the most important person in a friend’s life or expecting them to take all your advice, it is important to always assess whether we are being the friend the Lord would desire us to be. If we are intentional about our relationships and wise in our interactions, we can nurture lifelong friendships that bring joy and honor the Lord.

    Victoria Riollano is an author, blogger, and speaker. As a mother of six, military spouse, Psychology professor and minister’s wife, Victoria has learned the art of balancing family and accomplishing God’s ultimate purpose for her life. Recently, Victoria released her book, The Victory Walk: A 21 Day Devotional on Living A Victorious Life.  Her ultimate desire is to empower women to live a life of victory, hope, and love. She believes that with Christ we can live a life that is ALWAYS winning. You can learn more about her ministry at victoryspeaks.org.

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