11 warning signs you’re in bad company (ignore these at your peril)

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Hindsight is 20/20.

Many of us have been in a situation where we discovered the people we thought were friends were actually pretty questionable.

In this article, we’re going to look at 11 warning signs that you may be keeping bad company.

If any of these ring true, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate your social circle. And quickly.

1. You’re dealing with constant drama.

Gossip, cliques, and social backstabbing are behaviors we expect from teenagers whose prefrontal cortex hasn’t fully developed yet.

But this childish behavior is inexcusable in adults, who should know better.

If you find yourself constantly dealing with jealousy, two-faced friends, rivalry, and power struggles in your social group, it’s a sure sign that these friends are no good for you.

2. You feel trepidation about spending time with them.

If your friends invite you out, do you look forward to seeing them and spending time with them?

Or do you feel a wave of panic at the thought?

Do you worry they’ll make fun of you if you aren’t wearing the right clothes? Or that they might insult you for dating someone who isn’t the right ‘type’?

How your body and mind react to the thought of hanging out with your friends speaks volumes about whether these friends are good for you.

3. You receive little or no support from them.

Do you find you’re often the pillar of support in your social circle, but this isn’t reciprocated when you need help?

For instance, are you the go-to person whenever someone moves or has a problem with their computer? Or the one they’ll call in the middle of the night when they’re having a relationship crisis?

But when you reach out to them in distress, suddenly they’re nowhere to be found?

If so, that’s a seriously unbalanced relationship that’s only going to drain you over time.

You’ll be used until you have nothing left to give, at which point they’ll have no qualms about leaving you in the dust.

4. You’re engaging in risky behaviors with them.

Many of us have awoken after a wild night with friends, wondering what the hell we were thinking. Or even where the hell we are.

But if you find you’re engaging in more substance abuse than you’re comfortable with, or consistently waking up in a heap of strangers feeling uneasy, that’s some risky behavior you may want to reconsider.

And if you’re in these circumstances because your social group encourages and/or orchestrates them, ask yourself if this is truly how you want to live.

If it isn’t, you’ll either need to enforce some healthier boundaries or make some healthier friendship choices, as soon as possible.

5. You’re being held back by them.

Some people actively try to prevent their ‘friends’ from improving themselves due to envy or self-sabotage.

These people usually feel crap about their own lives, so they try to prevent you from pursuing or succeeding at something, so they won’t feel as bad about their shortcomings.

Bad company will try to prevent you from doing things by mocking you or your dreams, telling you horror stories about it, or trying to encourage you towards something else they approve of instead. Like sitting on the couch and drinking with them.

6. You can’t rely on them.

When you think about the people in your immediate circle, do you feel confident that you can rely upon them in difficult circumstances?

Do these people keep their word when they make promises to you, and show up on time when plans are made?

Do they keep your secrets or are they always letting things slip that you told them in confidence?

If your so-called friends are consistently flakey or you can’t trust that what you tell them will stay with them, it’s worth considering whether these are good friends. Or even friends at all.

7. You’re afraid to speak your mind with them.

Are your friends quick to mock or criticize you if your thoughts differ from their own?

Or do you hold back from saying what you think because you’re afraid of being condemned or ostracized if you speak your mind?

Friends don’t always agree on topics, but good friends will be open to hearing your thoughts on a subject. You can agree to disagree or even argue, but there will still be care and respect present.

If there isn’t, and you aren’t free to be your true self, what benefit is there of keeping these people in your life?

8. You’re ignored or dismissed when you do speak up.

People who care about and respect you will listen to what you have to say.

They may disagree with you and might choose not to take your advice, but they’ll do you the courtesy of hearing you out first.

In contrast, bad company will either refuse to listen to you or brush off what you say. They’ll probably act like they know better, and lash out at you later if you end up being proven right.

If your advice and insights aren’t ever appreciated and considered by these friends, you may want to take a step backward and extricate yourself from the group.

9. You find yourself in dangerous situations with them.

Calculated risk-taking is an integral part of life and can teach us invaluable coping mechanisms.

But things have the potential to get ugly if your peers drag you into inherently dangerous situations.

For example, if they come to pick you up and the friend who is driving has been drinking. Or if they take you to hang out with people who have illegal drugs and weapons lying around.

People are tarred with the same brush as the company they keep, and guilt by association is very real.

If you’re in a group that ends up on the wrong side of the law, you may have a difficult time proving your innocence.

10. Your belongings keep ‘going missing’.

Do your things keep disappearing after your friends have come over to visit?

Or do you find yourself hiding your most valuable possessions before they arrive?

That’s a pretty strong clue that the company you’re keeping isn’t exactly ideal.

Those who would steal from you are obviously untrustworthy, so why are you choosing to spend time with them?

And furthermore, what are they doing with the items they steal from you?

11. Your gut feeling tells you to stay away.

We’re often taught not to make snap judgments about others and to be more understanding and welcoming.

And whilst it’s important not to make sweeping assumptions about people before you’ve got to know them, your gut feelings are there for a reason: to keep you safe.

Countless people get hurt, or worse, by those close to them—those they chose to trust and spend time with despite deeper instincts that tried to warn them away.

Always listen to your gut instinct about the company you’re keeping, rather than listening to others who try to convince you you’re wrong, or a bad person for feeling that way.

Our bodies are finely honed detectors that should rarely be ignored.

About The Author

Catherine Winter is an herbalist, INTJ empath, narcissistic abuse survivor, and PTSD warrior currently based in Quebec's Laurentian mountains. In an informal role as confidant and guide, Catherine has helped countless people work through difficult times in their lives and relationships, including divorce, ageing and death journeys, grief, abuse, and trauma recovery, as they navigate their individual paths towards healing and personal peace.