Five Easy Ways To Kill A Friendship

“Friends are made by many acts and lost by only one.”
– Proverbs


Homeboys through the Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall

And then there’s some we wish we never knew at all.
– “Friends” Whodini


Every time I read the newspaper (yes, I still love reading the newspaper), I’ll take a look at the “Dear Abby” column.  It’s usually right next to the comics section so I’ll give it the once-over.  A common letter to the column usually has something to do with friendships.


They usually begin like this:

Dear Abby,

My friend is always criticizing me…

My friend is always telling me I can’t do something…

I caught my friend in a lie…

You get the point.  I consider myself very fortunate to have great friends, some going all the way back to kindergarten.  When I mention this to people in conversation, some are genuinely surprised and even look at me like I was exaggerating.  Having close friends is one of life’s blessings.  Having people you know you can count on at any time is something not to be taken for granted.  On the flip side, I know people who have taken for granted and ultimately lost some great friendships.

Real friendships take time and effort.  And once a solid foundation is built, they can last a lifetime.  It’s a shame to destroy something so valuable by being careless.  Want to kill a friendship?  Here are 5 sure-fire ways:

  • Destroy Trust: I like the analogy of trust being a lot like a bank account.  The more you deposit into the account in the form of honest words and actions, the stronger the bond becomes.  As you start withdrawing from the account (by doing things like lying and being undependable), the trust balance ultimately goes to zero.  At that point, either the friendship may already be too far gone or it will take a very long time to build trust again.
  • Constantly Compete: Competition between friends is fun.  Friendly competition, that is – the kind of competition where either both of you win or have fun in the process (like a weight loss contest).  But I’m talking about another type of competition that’s destructive.  The keeping-up kind of competition that breeds jealousy and contempt.  One-Upmanship.  You buy a three-bedroom house, I buy a four-bedroom house.  You buy a new Toyota, I buy a new Lexus.  After all, you’re no better than I am.  Why shouldn’t I have the same (or better) things?  Constant competition goes hand-in-hand with comparison.
  • Compare: Similar to competition, comparisons lead to judgment and jealousy.  I fully appreciate the different personalities and gifts that each of my friends have – but it wasn’t always this way.  There were times where I would wish I could be more like some of my friends.  More cooler.  More giving.  More outgoing.  More athletic.  The problem with comparisons is they sometimes get dark and twisted.  Somehow, the “I appreciate Joe for his unselfish personality.” sentiment becomes “That Joe is such a kiss-ass. No one can be that unselfish.”  Or, “Yeah, Kevin has a good job and makes great money, but he’s fat and out of shape.”
“You want to what? That’s a STUPID idea!” Don’t be a dream killer.


  • Be A Dream Killer: Dan Miller uses the analogy of black crabs to describe people who criticize or try to crush the dreams of others.  Place a bunch of black crabs into a bucket.  One tries to escape and the other crabs inevitably attack him and pull him back down.  Consider yourself a black crab at the bottom of the bucket when a friend tells you his/her dreams, plans, or aspirations, and you say things like, “Why would you do that?” or “That will never work.” or worse, “That’s stupid.” No one likes or wants to be around a dream killer.
  • Take, Take, Take (And Never Give): Can I borrow some money?  Can I crash at your house?  Can I borrow your car?  Can you hook me up?  As occasional requests, this is exactly what friends are for.  But when you constantly treat friends like an ATM machine or 7-11 (a convenient place for cash and goods), this makes you a freeloader, not a friend.

What are some other ways that we hurt or damage our friendships?