Friendship 'Coasting' Is A Major Red Flag You Might Not Be Looking Out For

Have you ever found yourself (discreetly) observing a pair of friends at a cafe and wishing you could find someone to share such carefree and candid moments with? Making friends as a kid might feel simple enough but this might not always be the case when we become adults, per Prevention. A lot of things like changing family dynamics, losing old friends, and moving cities can make finding and maintaining new friends a little more complicated. 

Even so, friendships add a lot to our lives. They give us special people to spend special days with, confidants whom we can call up when we're sad or frustrated, and companions to take with us on distant journeys. But unlike with romantic relationships, the rules governing a friendship aren't as explicitly discussed (via Well and Good). How much effort, if any, should you be putting into maintaining a platonic union? Should it all feel natural and easy? Or should it feel like work? 

According to friendship expert Danielle Bayard Jackson's TikTok post, there are some small ways in which you can be a better friend in 2023. One of the friendship perceptions we should be leaving behind in 2022, according to her, is the idea that "real friendships should just happen. You shouldn't have to work at it. It should be organic." Well and Good calls this notion "coasting."  

What is friendship coasting and why is it a red flag?

You may have heard the term "coasting" used as an example of a red flag in a romantic partnership. It's when one person stops putting any effort into maintaining or growing the relationship (via Elite Daily). But, the same can be said about friendships, per Well and Good

Friendship expert Danielle Bayard Jackson referred to a study that was done in 2009 in her TikTok video, where adult loneliness was analyzed. Between two groups that were observed for five years — one which believed that friendships should flow effortlessly and the other that thought friendships took work — the former was found to be more lonely. 

Jackson shared that she's "nervous" for those who are "operating under the belief that if a friendship is meant to be, then you shouldn't have to put any effort into it." A healthy friendship is one where both parties put in the effort required to fuel the relationship, reports Healthline. A one-sided union, on the other hand, is one that'll leave you (assuming you're the one putting more effort into maintaining the friendship) feeling drained and hurt. 

How to avoid coasting when you're friends with someone

Coasting could be something you yourself are doing without knowing it, or perhaps you're the one on the receiving end of this unhealthy friendship habit. Either way, you're doing yourself a favor by spotting the signs and doing something to rectify them. 

Therapist and author Nicole Zangara, whose book "Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" takes a look at what makes a strong friendship stand the test of time, told Hello Giggles that persistent effort is key. "When both of you are putting in the effort, and it's on a consistent basis, that friendship will last," she explained. We can take a leaf from the romantic relationship guidebook here; a relationship based on selfishness or convenience is not a healthy one. If you find yourself at the receiving end of a friend who only calls when they want something from you, is only interested in talking and not so much on the listening, or is disinterested in making plans with you, those might be some red flags to ponder on (via Bustle). 

Friendship expert Danielle Bayard Jackson who discussed the topic further in her podcast titled "Friend Forward," added that "you're going to have to put it on the calendar, you're going to have to plan ahead, [and] you're going to have to do some emotional lifting" if you want a mutually beneficial friendship.