Beware of the bad weather friend: the one who's only there when life goes wrong

The general wisdom goes that if a friend helps you through tough times, they’re ride or die material.

If they stay up all night with you when you’re crying over your ex, or help you apply for new jobs when you’re up for redundancy, they’re a keeper.


But are they also there for you when life is going swimmingly?

Good friends celebrate our successes too. Whether it’s a new relationship, a promotion at work, or you’re simply serving looks in a new ‘fit, true friends should be able to proudly, and loudly, build you up.

Influencer Shannon Detrick recently took to Instagram to explain that she believes this is the ‘truest test’ of friendship.

She said: ‘When you just got engaged, when you’re married, maybe bought a house, maybe your career popped off, or you just went viral on social media.

‘It is easier to support people when you’re not threatened by them.

‘It’s a lot harder to continue to cheer someone on when they’re already doing really well.’

So if you’ve got a friend that was on the phone every night when your boyfriend dumped you – but looks pained to pay you a compliment – you might know what we’re talking about.

Counsellor and member of Counselling Directory, Marie O’Neill, says there are many reasons why a friend may behave like this – and it’s not as toxic as you think.

‘It can be a defence against their own vulnerability,’ she explains. ‘It’s a way to avoid their own difficulties.

‘These friends might operating in a rescuing-mode, where they have learned that their main value in relationships is as the ‘fixer’.

‘Unlike fair weather friends, these friends only know how to relate when they are the ones offering support.’

As with most of life’s challenges, Marie says communication is key.

She explains: ‘If we find ourselves in relationships like these, we can choose to address the imbalance directly, by having a conversation about how it’s making us feel.’

So how do we go about it?

‘Often we have a sense of whether or not a friend is ready to hear a challenge like this, but it’s always beneficial to tread carefully and non-judgmentally,’ says Marie.

‘It helps to remember that the behaviour probably serves a protective function for the other person. For example, starting a conversation like, “I’ve noticed that you are very supportive and always there for me when I need it, but I’m not sure you always share in my happiness when things are going well. Is this something you notice in other friendships? Do you think this is a role you’ve taken on?”

‘We may also want to share more about how this makes us feel and how we would prefer the friendship to be, if we feel the other person is open to hearing this.

‘This type of open, honest conversation can transform a relationship from being ruled by automatic, conditioned responses to helping each other grow into awareness.’

And if your words fall on deaf ears? That could be that point at which you decide if the friendship is truly serving you.

‘If it’s not possible to have such a conversation, it may be more beneficial for us to limit our own participation in these patterns and find other sources of support,’ says Marie.

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