Is This One-Sided or Two-sided? Navigating High School Friendships

Some friendships are destructive and less than equal, others are equally encouraging. How is a person to know which is which?

By Hallie Forman

High school is a period where students are highly dependent on others. I have yet to meet a high school student who does not want attention from their peers. The more friends, the more popular a person is. The more popular, the more attention they get. This desire for others’ attention is a cycle that will eventually turn into disappointment.

All through life, but as a teenager especially, people’s main priority is themselves. Although most are not trying to offend others, everybody is selfish. Selfishness can sometimes be a good trait, but rarely works well with dependency. It is hard to rely on a person who is thinking more of themselves than what they are being relied on for. While everybody is selfish, some can set themselves aside for the sake of their relationships, and others cannot.

So how does one differentiate between a person that is in their life selfishly and one that they can trust to be there for them? It may take a while, but eventually a person’s true intentions will become clear. A person who is looking for just another friend to make themselves look popular will act differently in the friendship than one who is fully invested in it. These people are usually not as sympathetic to other emotions, as they are too absorbed in their own. If a person is only there during their ‘friend’s’ positive moments, but disappears when their ‘friend’ is upset, it is a sign that they are using the relationship for a good time, not to encourage and support them. In a good relationship, both people should be equally invested in each other’s lives. One-sided relationships can simply be determined by this: if a person talks only about themselves and withdraws from the conversation if the subject is changed, or if one’s thoughts seem to be validated while the others are dismissed. While these are clear signs of an unequal relationship, one may need to dig deeper to find out why a person is in their life.

Sometimes, the signs of an unequal relationship are not so obvious. At first, one will seem devoted to the relationship, but as time goes on, their self-serving intentions will gradually shine through. While these people have mastered the art of hiding their intent in the relationship, luckily, the affected person often gets an unconscious feeling that something is not right. This feeling should not be disregarded and furthermore used as a sign to take caution. This does not necessarily mean the person should be shut out completely, but rather means that they should not be relied on to help out if needed.

In rare instances, there will be people who are as willing to help through the bad times as they are to participate during the good times. They still benefit from having an additional friend but care more about their friend’s well being than what other people think of the relationship. These people deserve to receive the same effort as they are giving. In this instance, both people are equally able to be depended upon, creating a balanced relationship.

Everybody will have people that enter their life both permanently and temporarily. People are placed into one’s life for various reasons, some for memories, and some for long-term support. The people who are supportive through everything should be valued at all costs, while the others should just be enjoyed while they’re around. Being mindful of the difference will create less dependency, leading to a happier life.

Image: “Day 291 of 366” by Gallant’s Photography on Flickr