How to Handle an Unsupportive Friend

We always assume our friends are going to support us no matter what, but what happens when they don't? Or even when they just aren't happy for us. It can take that really great news you wanted to share and suddenly make it seem trivial and silly.

There are a lot of great things about friendship, and one of them should be support through the good and bad times. When you have great friends in your life you should be able to get a "congrats" or "atta boy" when something good happens for you. But friendships aren't perfect, and every once in a while a friend will disappoint you by failing to share your joy. What then?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my friend having a tough time right now?
  • Is my friend good at expressing different emotions?
  • Is my friend jealous?
  • Have I been supportive of my friend?
  • Has my friend consistently not been happy for me?

Tough Times for Your Friend

Woman looking away, unhappy
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If your friend is going through something major right now (loss of job, best friend moving away, death in the family), it stands to reason that being happy for you is not going to come easy for your pal. That doesn't make it totally right. After all, as friends, we should be able to show happiness for our buddy even in the midst of our own sadness. Your friend may be happy for you but is in such a low state they just can't express it.

If your friend is usually supportive, ignore their apathy and find different people to help you celebrate your good times. Your friend will come around when things improve for them and their head is in a better place.

Difficulty Expressing Emotions

Perhaps your friend is better at showing empathy than in sharing your joy. If your friend seems glad for you but just can't seem to say the actual words "that's great" or "I'm so happy for you," give them a pass this time. See if they can express their support in another way, such as sending you a handwritten note or giving you a hug.

If time goes on and you get the sense that your friend is not really happy for you, then you have to discuss it. Feel them out before making it an issue.

Feelings of Jealousy

Even the most serene among us feel a tinge of jealousy sometimes, but a true friend will put that aside to show their happiness for you. There is no reason for a friend to harbor ill will towards the good things that are happening for you. Signs that your friend may be jealous include:

  • Rolling of the eyes or making a face when you tell them about your good fortune.
  • Gossiping about you behind your back.
  • Snarky comments.

Negative reactions to your good news are disappointing, but if your friend behaves this way only one time you can give them a pass. If this type of behavior continues, you will have to address it.

Showing Support for a Friend

If your friend isn't happy for you, the first thing you need to do is examine your own behavior. Have you nurtured your friendship? Or are you just calling up your friend now because you want to share your great news? Have you listened when your friend has needed it?

If you haven't been a great friend, acknowledge it. Tell your friend something like, "I know I've been busy chasing XX goals, and I want to apologize for not giving you enough attention. You're my buddy and I don't want you to feel bad! Let's go out and celebrate so we can start again."

Consistent Lack of Response

Is your friend's failure to give you some positive reinforcement a repeat problem? Some people are great at providing support during the sad times in life, but when things improve they seem either apathetic or downright rude. We've all been there.

If your friend's negative behavior towards you has become a pattern, it's time to confront them. Tell your friend that you just want them to be happy for you. If they respond with more negativity, you may need to distance yourself from them.