6 signs you’re being rejected by a friend and what to do about it

Friendship – probably the most underrated and underappreciated form of human relationship.

First, what is a friend?

Is it someone who agrees with every word that comes from your mouth? Or someone who’s able to remind you of what matters?

Maybe it’s every person you’ve bonded with in the club bathroom.

A friend can mean so many different things to different people. But it could be boiled down to that feeling you get when you meet someone and you don’t mind it one bit.

But what happens when that feeling isn’t reciprocated? What do you do?

Here are 6 signs you’re being rejected by a friend and what you can do about it.

1) They tell you

Let’s get the obvious out of the way.

If you’re lucky, a friend will tell you clearly that they don’t want to be your friend anymore. 

Usually, this will be a close friend who values communication and doesn’t want to keep you in the dark.

And as the person who is this person, how you respond will reveal a lot about the friendship.

Because if the friendship has always been healthy with boundaries and mutual respect, you’ll know it isn’t personal.

That friend is likely going through major life changes and needs more time to themselves. So they’re not rejecting you, they’re just choosing more self-care.

But if your friendship hasn’t always been healthy, it might be that they need to let the friendship go for their well-being.

Even if it’s hard, be respectful and wish them well. Avoid making assumptions beyond what they say, and be grateful for the clarity that was given to you.

If not for the person, then for the clarity itself.

2) They stop putting in effort

If a friend is uncharacteristically slow to respond or stops reaching out, it doesn’t always mean they don’t want to be your friend anymore.

It could mean that they are busy or are going through something personal. Don’t feel shy to check in on them, but also respect their privacy if they aren’t ready to share.

But another possibility worth noting is that the friendship may have run its course.

Which is one of the saddest things you can experience, and a lot of people tend to be in denial about it.

When a friendship has run its course, you’ll be able to tell in the way you don’t bring out the best in one another anymore.

I find that one person will feel more inclined to notice it, which is never an easy thing to experience from either side. 

And it may feel like a rejection, but take it as an opportunity to see if the quality of the friendship matches what it means to you.

Sometimes, letting each other go is the biggest gesture of platonic love and a good way to end things amicably.

3) They ghost you

Some people will straight up ghost you. And I’ve been one of those people. 

Usually with people that I wasn’t as close to. But nonetheless, it can be confusing for anyone that’s on the other side.

If it was truly out of the blue from someone you considered close, they may not have the capacity to process the complex emotions that come with being a clear communicator.

Which should tell you enough.

But also, something a lot of people don’t acknowledge is that there is a dating phase when it comes to friendships.

Personally, it’s when I look to see if someone has similar values as me and if they can meet my needs. Which is a process that takes time and communication.

If you don’t share similar values, or display some red flags, I know better than to spend energy explaining myself or making exceptions.

Now I can’t speak for everyone, but what I mean is that not everyone views friendships the same way. Therefore, not everyone needs to want to be your friend.

But if you find yourself constantly meeting people that ghost you or make you feel rejected in some way, try being more intentional with how you form friendships.

4) They send mixed signals

signs youre being rejected by a friend and what to do about it 1 6 signs you’re being rejected by a friend and what to do about it

This one can be tricky because I register it as rejection, but don’t actually believe that it is.

What I mean is that as you become clearer about what your needs and standards are, you will come across people who don’t.

At first, they will show themselves as people who are sending mixed signals. Where they seem to like you, but don’t put in the same effort that you do. 

Or perhaps they simply prefer a touch-and-go style of friendship!

This is where you can apply the idea of “rejection is just redirection” in your relationships!

Don’t force someone to fit your idea of a friend because you shouldn’t try to change others. Just as you shouldn’t change your values for a friendship.

But also, it’s important to note that not everyone moves at the same speed when cultivating a friendship.

And it’s up to you to figure out how you feel about that. 

What I’m trying to highlight here is that friendships, like anything important, require flexibility and time. 

So don’t put in more effort to convince someone to do the same. But don’t reject someone because you think they’re rejecting you if you genuinely like them.

That’s the best part about friendships – you can have as many as you want as long as it’s on your own terms. 

So don’t sweat a thing and take time to get to know those terms.

5) They take more than they can give

Another sign that isn’t always intended to be rejection. But for your own sake, you should take it as one.

This can apply to when a friend stops putting in effort because they no longer feel as connected to you as they used to.

But it’s more about people who will take from you as long as you let them without reciprocating.

This dynamic happens when you view friendships as something you have to earn but you also have a hard time receiving what you give.

For example, that “friend” who only calls when they need something but isn’t around when you need someone. 

It also happens when you give with the expectation of friendship without making it known. That insinuates that you can’t be kind to someone unless they are your friend.

Which is not true.

Don’t pour from an empty cup, and be kind because you can – not because you think you have to.

6) They keep taking things personally

There’s a high chance that you do as well.

So this one is about how both parties can self-sabotage via self-rejection, which will be reflected in the friendship.

You might find yourself in toxic cycles where your friendships crash and burn. Or feel as though you fight constantly yet neither of you wants to let the other person go. 

Until you become self-aware of how you can better your relationship with yourself, these kinds of friendships will haunt you.

Because it’s almost like you’re making friends with the enemy that lives within you but you don’t realize it because you haven’t confronted them.

If a friendship isn’t helping you become a better person, that’s not love. It’s an attachment.

And just because a friend stays with you doesn’t mean they’re not rejecting you by projecting their insecurities.

Unfortunately, our society and media promote a lot of codependent friendships where people are expected to abandon themselves in order to be a good friend.

But healthy friendships happen like how any other healthy relationships do.

Where compatibility, self-respect and clear boundaries create the foundation. And where people are treated with grace and encouraged to be individuals.

Not like the two halves of a sitcom duo.

In an ideal world, everyone is trusting, everyone is trustworthy and everyone wants to be friends with everyone.

But an ideal world doesn’t mean it’s fair. It just means it’s ideal for you.

So you can learn all the ways to cope with rejection and tell yourself that it’s their loss. But if you want to cultivate truly successful friendships, reframe the way you approach them.

Start by differentiating an acquaintance from a friend.

It will take time and you will make mistakes. But taking accountability and learning from them will help you become a better friend in the end.

To others, and also yourself.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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