In a group of friends, each person plays a different role. You have the nurturer, the fun friend, the irresponsible one, and the smart one. You also have "that friend." You know the one — the person in the group who no one seems to like very much. "That person" is the one who constantly one-ups everyone, talks about herself too much and causes all the drama.
Don't be "that person" in your group of friends.
In case you're wondering, here's how to figure out if you're "that person" — and how to fix it.
Do you see your friends as competition?
If life was a competitive sport, we'd all be in a heap of trouble. When we die, no one will hand out awards for best hair, nicest clothes and smartest kids. If you feel bitter when someone you supposedly like enjoys good fortune, it's time to re-evaluate the way you're living life.
Quit trying to one-up everyone you know, and let others share in the spotlight. It doesn't diminish you when someone else looks good. In fact, it makes you look like you choose good friends.
Do you gossip?
Gossiping is never, ever cool. It never, ever makes you look cool. When you gossip, it makes everyone in the room wonder if you say the same things about them when they aren't present, and it completely destroys your credibility with your friends. Make like a Disney character, and keep your mouth shut if you can't say something nice.
Do you share similar interests with your friends?
It's really cool that you follow an extreme diet, devote yourself to a workout regime and use only homeopathic medicine. Kudos to you. Honestly, we'd all like to hear about it — in small doses. When you come across as obsessive about one particular topic, it makes you look a little weird. Listen to what your friends are trying to teach you about their interests, and don't monopolize conversations.
Do you have all the answers?
We're all doing the best we can, especially as parents. However, when you think you know what's best for everyone in your group, and then you proceed to tell them, it gets old really fast. If homeschooling/co-sleeping/breastfeeding/organic eating works for you (or, if public schooling/sleep training/formula feeding/comfort cooking works for you), you have established only that those things work well for you and your family. Share, but don't act surprised when not everyone jumps on board.
Do you bring everyone down?
Your friends love you, and they want what's best for you. But you can't have three catastrophes every single week and expect a ton of sympathy. We all go through rough spots, and you deserve support when facing death, disease and disappointment. However, don't forget the boy who cried "wolf." You'd hate to waste your friends' valuable time and energy when you meltdown over your phone dying, a horrible haircut or your son getting a "C" on a test.
No one's life is all good or all bad, and your true friends want to hear it all, straight from your heart. But when you act like the "group downer," it makes you hard to get to know. Share the good in your life, and don't forget to comfort other members of your group.
When we get right down to it, we're all "that person" from time to time — some of us just spend more time there than others. It's OK to lose your sense of social grace sometimes, and that's when a heartfelt apology goes a long way. If you've fallen into any of these social traps lately, it's time to make amends by supporting your friends for a while. Let someone else take over the "that person" role. You won't miss it a bit.