10 Signs You Are a Friend of Convenience

If you have a friend who is friendly, nice, and supportive only as long as it doesn’t require too much time or energy from them, you might be their friend of convenience. These can be benign work friendships that last as long as you’re both working together, or they can be more toxic friendships.[1] Being a “convenient friend” sometimes means that you’re stuck in a one-sided friendship where you’re being taken advantage of.

This article will review 10 signs that one or more of your “friends” sees you as a friend of convenience but probably wouldn’t be there for you if it required them to put more effort in.

Sections

  1. What is a friend of convenience?
  2. 10 signs you’re a friend of convenience
  3. Should I end a friendship of convenience?
  4. How to end a friendship of convenience
  5. Common questions

What is a friend of convenience?

A friendship of convenience is exactly what it sounds like: a friendship that lasts as long as it is convenient for one or both people. There are many different types of friends, and a convenient friend is often a fair-weather friendship that probably wouldn’t survive a hardship, conflict, or big favor. The thing about these kinds of friendships is that they require little to no effort to maintain, either because these are friends you see all the time or because one person does all the work.

10 signs you’re a friend of convenience

Not all convenient friendships are bad. For example, being friendly with coworkers can make you happier and more productive at work, even if you just remain “work friends.”[2] The same is also true for anyone you need to interact with frequently, including mutual friends of your partner or people you volunteer with. The bad kind of convenient friendships are ones that leave you feeling taken advantage of or like you’re the only one making an effort.[1]

If you’re wondering what the signs of being a convenient friend are, here are 10 red flags to watch out for.

1. You’re always operating around their schedule

One of the top signs of being a convenient friend is when it always feels like plans need to revolve around their schedule and availability. They might even assume that your schedule is completely open without even asking if you have other plans.

Getting texts like, “Let’s meet this Friday, because my week is jam-packed” is an example of someone expecting you to squeeze yourself into their (very important) life. These kinds of texts can also be a sign that your friend doesn’t respect you or doesn’t value your time.

2. You wouldn’t see or talk if you didn’t initiate

Good, strong friendships are ones where both people put in time, energy, and effort. If this isn’t happening because you’re always the one to initiate, it may be another sign that they view you as a friend of convenience. For example, if you wouldn’t talk, text, or hang out with a work friend unless you were the one to reach out, you may be overestimating how close you and your friend really are.

3. They only call when they need something

One of the most frustrating signs of being a friend of convenience is when you have a friend who only calls or reaches out to you when they need something. For example, you might hear from them only when they need a dog sitter, a work favor, or a 5 am ride to the airport. This kind of friendship is often one-sided, meaning you can’t call in the same kind of favors from them.

4. You’re their backup plan when they’re bored

No one wants to be someone’s second choice or backup plan when other plans fall through. If this happens regularly to you, it’s usually another one of the bright red flags that indicate that this person isn’t a true friend. For example, a friend who only wants to hang out when their BFF or boyfriend is out of town may just be lonely, bored, or has nothing “better” to do.

5. They don’t respond to your texts or calls

Some people just aren’t big texters or don’t check their phones a lot, but a friend who almost never responds to your texts and calls can be a bad sign. This is especially true if you see them answering and responding to other people’s texts when you hang out with them. While this can be hurtful, it’s also a good indication that this person doesn’t have the qualities of a true friend.

6. They’re quick to ditch you for someone else

If you have a flaky friend who is quick to back out of plans, it’s not always because they see you as a friend of convenience. It could be that they are equally flaky with all of their friends. However, if you hear from other people or see photo proof on social media that they ditched you to hang out with other friends, this isn’t a good sign. In fact, it’s probably a sign of a bad friend who isn’t loyal and wouldn’t show up if you needed them.

7. Being friendly to you benefits them

While you shouldn’t be suspicious of a friend’s motives without having some evidence to back it up, there are some people who do take advantage of their friends. For example, some people form strategic friendships with people who have power or influence, hoping to get a personal benefit from them. Be wary of friends who seem fake or turn up the charm when there’s something they want from you.

8. They go MIA for long stretches of time

A friend who ghosts you or goes long stretches without returning your calls or responding to your texts might be going through a hard time. Still, you should be concerned if this becomes a pattern. This is especially true if they only resurface when they have a favor, are bored or lonely, or need something from you.

9. They get bored when you talk about yourself

If one or more of your friends gets bored when you talk about yourself or what’s going on in your life, it’s sometimes a sign they aren’t a great friend. This is especially true when you have a friend who only talks about themselves, never pausing to ask how you’re doing. There are categories of friendships, and these kinds of friendships are often the one-sided type, which can be frustrating, exhausting, and hurtful.

10. They don’t show up when you need something

One of the best ways to tell the difference between a friend of convenience and a real friend is to ask yourself, “Does this person turn up when I need help, support, or a favor?” Friends who call on you for favors but go MIA when you need something is a clear sign of a one-sided friendship. Without reciprocity, friendships can’t remain strong and close.[3]

Should I end a “convenient friendship”?

Not all friendships of convenience are bad, especially if the friendship is mutually beneficial. For example, maintaining superficial friendships with people at work can make your job easier, more fun, and more satisfying.[2]

It’s usually only necessary to end a friendship of convenience when the benefits aren’t mutual and the relationship only benefits one person. Reciprocity is a key part of what makes friendships so important, so it’s best to pull back from friendships that start to feel one-sided.[3]

If you notice some of the signs listed above, it might be important to take a step back, re-evaluate the friendship, and decide whether or not it’s worth it to keep being friends. Keep in mind that most people are only able to maintain about 5 close friendships at a time, meaning it’s important to choose your inner circle wisely.[4]

How to end a friendship of convenience

A lot of people don’t know how to stop being friends with someone without being mean or having to deal with a lot of drama. Sometimes, ending a fair-weather friendship only requires pulling back and not putting as much time and effort in. When you stop doing all of the work to maintain the friendship, many fake, flaky, or fairweather friends will just drift away.

If they’re people you still see at work, church, or other places, you can still be polite without feeling the need to pretend you’re BFFs. You can simply smile, be friendly, make small talk, and go on about your business. It’s often as simple as that.

If it’s not that simple (e.g., your friend keeps calling, asking for favors, or stringing you along), you might need to have a more candid conversation. You can be honest and let them know you feel they haven’t been a great friend to you. Some may step up and make more of an effort, and others won’t, but either way, you’ll probably be better off.

Final thoughts

Knowing the signs of being a “friend of convenience” can sometimes help you evaluate these friendships differently and invest less of your time and effort into them. Not all friendships of convenience are bad, and it’s sometimes good to have these types of friends in your life, especially when the benefits are mutual. Still, it’s important to know the difference between fake friends and real friends and to put your time, energy, and effort into the friends who you know have your back.

Common questions

Why do I tolerate being a friend of convenience?

Unfortunately, a lot of kind, generous people get taken advantage of by others who aren’t as selfless. Sometimes, this means you might need to learn to set better boundaries with friends, and other times it just means you need to choose better friends.

Does someone who treats you as a friend of convenience do it on purpose?

Not all friends who treat you as a friend of convenience have bad or selfish intentions. Some may just be trying to keep things friendly (like people you often have to interact with at work). The ones who don’t have good intentions are often the ones who use or take advantage of you.

Show references +

Hailey Shafir is a licensed mental health counselor, licensed addiction specialist, and clinical supervisor working out of Raleigh, NC. She has a Masters in Counseling from NC State University, and has extensive professional experience in counseling, program development, and clinical supervision. Read more.

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