20+ Signs Your Friend Doesn’t Respect You

Here are clear signs that your friend doesn’t respect you, according to mental health professionals, life coaches, and more.

Table of Contents

Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Sabrina Romanoff

Clinical Psychologist

Friends who don’t respect you can impact your mental health.

Individuals, who don’t respect others, tend to relate to friends as objects instead of multidimensional human beings. This can lead to challenges for the “object” or person on the other side of the relationship, who is tasked with sacrificing their own needs to preserve attachment. Thus, you must yield to the other’s needs instead of engaging in a reciprocal exchange.

Here are some signs that your friend doesn’t respect you:

1. They spark self-doubt in yourself to feel better about themselves

Friendships without the basis of respect tend to be erected on the basis of isolation, self-doubt, and worry. They may use you and spark self-doubt in yourself as a strategy to feel better about themselves.

We call this projective identification: the process of projecting out intolerable feelings in oneself to another. This mechanism allows undesirable aspects in them to be internalized in you.

2. You’re always the one who makes the effort

You initiate conversations, make plans, find the activity. If you were to withdraw these efforts, would you still be involved with this person?

Pay attention to the effort they contribute to the relationship and how they make room for you in their life.

3. You feel used

After interactions with them, you feel used and exasperated. Reciprocity is missing in the relationship, and you’re left giving while they continue to take.

4. They only respond when it’s convenient for them

They respond immediately to texts when it relates information they need or advice they’re soliciting. But when you need something, they’re radio silent or unavailable.

The relationship may feel hot and cold. On some days, they may be fully present and then ignore you the following week.

How to manage and cope:

  • They put you down or they don’t have your back

Label these moments in a light-hearted and neutral manner. Next time they put you down, say “ouch” or “that hurt.” Let them know the impact of their actions.

Give them the opportunity to view you as more than an object, see the tangible effect of their behavior, and gauge if they are capable of responding to your needs.

  • You’re always the one who makes the effort

Scale back your efforts. See if they will initiate contactor plans independently.

  • You feel used

Consider what you are gaining from this relationship. Are you holding onto the potential of the friendship to the detriment of grasping the reality?

  • They only respond when it’s convenient for them

Let them know how you feel by using “I’ statements to show them how you’re impacted by their behavior, instead of “you” statements to avoid defensive armoring.

One-sided relationships are co-constructed. They require a taker and giver. You have the power to change the dynamic by introducing changes in the way in which you respond to the person.

Consider the capacity the person has to hear you and how much you value the relationship. This will help you modulate your approach to either work through these problems or let the natural consequence stake effect by disengaging.

Donna T. Novak, Psy.D.

Donna Novak

Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Simi Psychological Group

Friendships flourish on reciprocity. We are there for our friends, and they are there for us in times of need. We can trust them. We know we can count on them, if we need help with something, or just need a shoulder to cry on.

Friends uplift each other, support, and root for the best.

5. They continually break the boundaries that you set

One sign your friend doesn’t respect you is when they are continually breaking the boundaries that you set. If you are feeling that you are needing to continually explain your needs to your friend on the same boundary then this is a concern.

There are some questions to ask yourself however.

Are you communicating clearly without reactivity? If you are not being clear as to your needs then you may not be giving your friend an opportunity to respect you in a way that feels best. However, if you are honest with yourself and know that you are setting the boundaries and it is continuing to not be respected this is not a good sign.

For example, you may set boundaries on specific topics that you’d rather not discuss. If your friend continues to push you to talk about these things after consistent communication you may wonder what is behind their insistence.

Are they wanting to talk about it for their own gain? Are they really considering what is best for me?

6. They put you down or criticize you

Another sign that your friend isn’t respecting you is when they put you down or criticize you without it being in a productive and helpful way. When someone puts you down in a way that doesn’t feel good it may be helpful to check in with yourself as to what is going on.

Does your friend have good intentions? Sometimes friends need some guidance in being able to be the friend that would feel best to you. If you find that you are communicating your needs to your friend and it’s not being respected then this is a concern.

Ultimately, when your friends aren’t building you up and adding value to your life this is a sign that it may be best to not have them in your life.

7. They don’t make time to care for you when you’re struggling

A friend that doesn’t make the time to care for you when you are struggling may be another sign. This doesn’t mean that they need to drop everything to be there for you, however check ins and a sense of support shows respect and love.

A friend that respects you and the value of your friendship wants to ensure that they are supporting you. When this is not the case, and you communicate your needs to them, then you may not be respected or appreciated by your friend.

Randi Levin

Randi Levin

Transitional Life Strategist | Founder & CEO, Randi Levin Coaching

8. They do not initiate staying in touch or making plans

If your friend does not initiate or follow up with staying in touch or making plans, it may mean that they are indecisive about your value in their lives.

If you are not important enough to them to actually be in their lives in a consistent way, they may not place significance in being around you, and their inability to commit to and initiate plans speaks volumes.

9. They speak negatively about you to other people

Being friendly to your face and gossipy when you are out of sight may mean that your “friend” is not really being all that friendly! If you find out that your friend is speaking negatively about you to others, it is usually a clear sign that they lack respect and commitment to your relationship.

10. They don’t listen to you

If you see a repetitive pattern of not being heard or understood, it may mean that your friend is self-focused and not fully engaged in knowing and supporting you.

Their lack of attentiveness may signal a negative void of appreciation for your friendship and an overall lack of respect for you and what you value.

Laura Goldstein, LCMFT

Laura Goldstein

Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist | Founder, Montgomery County Counseling Center, LLC

11. Your friend treats you as fragile

One of many signs that a friend might not respect you could be that they pay you lip service rather than truths. If it feels that your friend is telling you what they think you want to hear (rather than what you may actually need to hear), it could be because your friend doesn’t think you are able to handle the truth.

This type of treating someone as fragile is often a sign of lack of respect, especially if the friend isn’t able to address this dynamic directly.

12. Your friend doesn’t share much about their own lives with you

If your friend has a hard time being vulnerable with you, and you share way more about yourself than they do with you, it could be a sign that they don’t respect your opinion.

This is not absolute.

However, it could be that your friend listens to you out of a sense of obligation but chooses not to share their own lives if they don’t think you’ll have much to contribute usefully. This could be a sign of a lack of respect.

13. Your friend acts different towards you when in a group vs. one-on-one

If your friend’s interactions with you change noticeably when other people are watching, it’s possible the friendship could be based more on social capital than direct respect.

Pay attention to subtle differences in quickness to reply directly vs. in group chats, invitations to spend time alone or with the group, and if/how their affect towards you changes when nobody else is watching.

Nick Bognar

Nick Bognar

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

14. They make several hurtful jokes and shrugs it off

One of the things that often flies under the radar—because it’s designed to—is hurtful joking.

A lot of times, a friend will tease another friend and then back off and say, “Oh, I’m only joking” when the person seems hurt. This is often accompanied by the famous “You’re just too sensitive” or “you need to learn how to take a joke.”

In all relationships, we should be listening to our gut. So if someone is making us feel bad about ourselves, even if they claim not to be trying to, it really matters.

If your friend makes a joke-that-doesn’t-feel-like-a-joke or several, it’s important to talk with that person to let them know how it makes you feel. A person who doesn’t respect you will shrug it off or blame you.

Someone who truly respects you will listen to you and validate your concerns.

Deidra Ward, LCSW, LAC

Deidra Ward

Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Licensed Addiction Counselor | Writer, Choosing Therapy

You are the only one who can raise your own value in friendships

As a clinician who specializes in the treatment of trauma, I see many clients who wonder why they have friends who treat them poorly. In therapy, we often discover that many of our adult relationships follow a familiar pattern until we learn to do things differently.

In childhood, if you had caretakers who did not demonstrate behaviors consistent with secure attachment, then you are vulnerable to repeat similar negative patterns as an adult. Water seeks its own level, especially in relationships with others.

If you don’t respect yourself, then it will be very challenging to attract others who respect you. We are the only ones who can raise our own value.

Related: What Is Self Respect and Why Is It Important?

One of the ways you teach respect is with the establishment of clear boundaries aligned with what we value. Most people will test your boundaries; it is human nature, we push up against limits to test for safety.

I often encourage clients to clarify what they value in a friendship. If one of your values is time management and you pride yourself on being timely, then this is a value.

If a friend is always late and you never say anything, then your friend isn’t aligned with your value. This is often when resentments grow, and damage to the relationship occurs.

Linda Mueller

Linda Mueller

Certified Life Coach | Founder, The Expat Partner Coach LLC

It’s common to go through ups and downs with friends over time. Supporting each other is a tenet of friendship. The key to a successful friendship is that the support is mutual, and the good in it outweighs the bad.

Below is a list of potential red flags that may signal that your friend does not respect you.

15. They frequently fail to keep promises

A friend who frequently fails to keep promises or appointments is acting disrespectfully. These failures can range from being late to standing you up or canceling plans last minute to failing to fulfill a promise.

These types of things happen on occasion, but if the behavior is chronic, or if your friend dismisses your feelings when you complain, consider it a red flag.

16. They only call when they need something and try to guilt you into helping

A friend who consistently chooses to spend time with other friends instead of you is inconsiderate. Similarly, a friend who only calls when he or she needs something and then tries to guilt you into helping is being manipulative.

17. They criticize you in front of others or behind your back

If you confide in a friend and then that information is used to criticize or mock you, it is clear that your friend does not respect you. This is especially true if you are belittled in front of others or behind your back.

Such comments are sometimes masked as humor, but if they make you feel small, then it’s not healthy communication.

Occasional missteps are excusable. Who hasn’t shown up late to meet a friend or let a secret slip? If the disrespectful behavior happens consistently or intentionally, then it’s time to pay attention to the circumstances and to identify potential triggers.

Your friend may have self-esteem issues and use these tactics, perhaps even unintentionally, to boost him or herself up. In this case, perhaps bringing awareness to your friend’s behavior will help them realize that it needs to stop.

Regardless of the reason, these behaviors can be damaging to your self-worth and confidence if allowed to go on.

Related: Why is Self Confidence Important?

You will have to decide whether you want to address the issue directly with your friend or set boundaries around the friendship to protect yourself.

Lynell Ross

Lynell Ross

Psychology-Trained Certified Health and Wellness Coach | Resource Director, Test Prep Insight

They don’t respect your boundaries

People who push you to do things after you have been clear that you do not want to do something, as well as those that try to persuade you against your will, clearly do not respect you or your boundaries.

If you have asked your friend not to do something that bothers you, such as sharing confidence, not calling after a certain time at night, or bringing people along when you have asked them not to, clearly show you that they do not respect your wishes.

People who don’t listen to your requests and continue certain behaviors after you have asked them to stop are showing you that your feelings don’t matter, which is a sign of disrespect.

They don’t listen to you

When you speak to your friend and they are constantly looking around, glancing at their phone, and won’t make eye contact with you, then they are not being present enough to listen to what you are saying. Not listening to someone shows a lack of respect.

They gossip about you behind your back

If it gets back to you that your friend has gossiped about you or said disparaging things, then you can be sure they don’t respect you. When you respect someone, you will not speak poorly about them when they are present or not.

Declan Edwards

Declan Edwards photo

Author | International Keynote Speaker | Founder and CEO, BU Coaching

18. They don’t seem to value your opinion

When you’re questioning whether or not a friend respects you, it’s useful to reflect on whether or not they seem to value your opinion. When you organize to catch up, how often do they ask you what you would like to do?

If you disagree on something, do they take the time to actually listen to your perspective? If you feel your voice isn’t being heard in this friendship, it might be time to move on.

19. They don’t prioritize your friendship but they expect you to always be on call

If you’re in a situation where you feel that your friend is too busy to fit you into their life or that they’re never available when you need them, then this is a sign that they’re not making your friendship a priority.

This is compounded when the relationship seems very one-directional in the sense that they expect you to drop everything whenever they call, but they’re distant or unavailable when you want to connect.

Remember that a good friendship requires each person to value each other and to prioritize the friendship.

Your friend isn’t upholding your boundaries.

If you have a friend that you’ve tried to communicate your boundaries to and they repeatedly overstep these boundaries, it may be time to question whether or not this friend respects you.

Boundaries could come in the form of saying no to their requests or in telling them that there are certain topics of conversation that you’re not comfortable with. If you’ve shared your boundaries with a friend, and they say that they understand, but their actions aren’t aligning with this, then you’ve got a red flag.

Tom Mumford

Tom Mumford

Co-Founder, Undergrads LLC

20. They expect you to listen to them but they don’t listen to you

If you find yourself always helping a friend, listening to their problems, and being their source to rant to, but never are able to share your own feelings—it could be a sign that your friend isn’t respecting you.

Try emphasizing that you feel as though they never have time to listen to your feelings and see if they’re understanding.

They don’t take you seriously.

Is your friend always downplaying your accomplishments and joking about serious matters? This could be a sign that they don’t respect you and feel superior to you.

You’re always making plans first.

A friendship should be a mutual bond, and if you’re constantly making plans for the both of you and your friend isn’t putting effort in, this could be another sign that they have little respect for you.

It’s possible that’s just how their personality is, but it’s likely that they might believe they have better things to do.

Jessica Ulloa

Jessica Ulloa

Community Manager, MyPerfectResume

21. They ignore your feelings and make you doubt your self-worth

It is tough to admit that someone who you think is your friend might not actually be showing you the appreciation and respect you deserve.

When I first moved to the US, I needed a place to stay until I settled in. A friend I went to school with offered me to stay in her house rent-free. Since I wasn’t paying any rent and couldn’t work until my work permit was ready, I took it upon myself to clean the house, cook for my friend and her family, and helped her with her newborn.

I noticed that she would only be nice and friendly to me if everything in the house was taken care of and that she would give me an attitude or stop talking to me if I didn’t do the things she wanted.

When I moved out of her house, she was furious and said that I only used her. For a while, I excused her behavior because I always remembered how close we were in school. I refused to believe that she had changed.

We stopped being friends because I realized that she didn’t value or appreciate my friendship.

She needed a nanny and a housekeeper and was only my “friend” when it was convenient for her. She put her needs above mine and dismissed my feelings when I shared how hurtful her actions were. She made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough, and for a while, I only blamed myself when she would get upset and stop talking to me.

Someone who undermines your opinion, ignores your feelings, and emotions, never apologizes for their mistakes, and makes you doubt your self-worth, they don’t deserve the title of a friend.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I confront my friend if I suspect they don’t respect me?

Confrontation can be a difficult and uncomfortable process, but it can also be necessary to maintain a healthy friendship. Before confronting your friend, it’s important to assess the situation and decide if the relationship is worth maintaining. If you think the friendship is worth saving, you should approach your friend calmly and respectfully. Here are some tips for confronting your friend:

• Start by expressing your concerns and feelings in a non-confrontational way.
• Be specific about the behaviors that are bothering you and how they make you feel.
• Listen to your friend’s response and try to see their perspective.
• Avoid getting defensive or attacking your friend.
• Set clear boundaries and expectations for the future.

What should I do if my friend doesn’t respond positively to my confrontation?

Unfortunately, not all confrontations result in a positive outcome. If your friend doesn’t respond positively to your concerns, it may be time to re-evaluate the friendship. Here are a few steps you can take:

• Take a step back and take some distance from the friendship.
• Consider talking to a trusted friend or family member about the situation for support and advice.
• Decide if the friendship is worth salvaging or if it’s time to end it.
• If you decide to end the friendship, do so respectfully and without burning bridges.

What should I do if confrontation isn’t an option?

If confronting a friend directly isn’t an option due to personal circumstances, there are other alternatives, such as talking to a trusted third party who knows both people well or talking via text message, email, or phone, to defuse the situation while giving everyone involved space and time to voice their concerns.

Can a friendship be saved if one person disrespects the other?

Saving a friendship when one person disrespects the other can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. The first step is to openly and honestly discuss the problems. If the disrespectful behavior continues, it may be necessary to set clear boundaries and communicate the consequences if those boundaries are crossed. 

It’s important to remember that changing a person’s behavior takes time and effort, and it’s up to the person to make those changes. If the friendship is beyond repair, it’s important to acknowledge the situation and move on without holding on to anger or resentment. Remember that it’s okay to let go of friendships that no longer serve your well-being.

Can technology be used to improve communication and respect in a friendship?

Technology can be a useful tool to improve communication and respect in a friendship. Here are a few ways technology can be used:

• Use messaging apps to stay informed and connected.
• Use video conferencing apps to have face-to-face conversations even if you’re in different locations.
• Use apps or tools that promote mindfulness and self-reflection to work on your personal development and communication skills.
• Use social media to share positive experiences and keep up with each other’s lives.

While technology can be useful, it’s important to remember that face-to-face interactions and conversations are important for building strong friendships.

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