Some Unhealthy Friend Group Roles

It's tough to be lonely and not have a group of friends. However, as much as you may want to get into a social circle, not all of them are created equal. If you're socially awkward, inexperienced, or less-confident, you can fall into unhealthy, self-worth-damaging roles in your friend group. It doesn't happen all the time - not every clique is a deadly minefield - but it doesn't hurt to be aware of the risks. I'll go over the roles first. Then I'll cover some reasons people can fall into certain ones, as well as some options for avoiding or getting out of them.

The group punching bag

This is the "friend" the group doesn't respect, but they keep around because they're fun to rip on. There are a few types of punching bag:

The excessive favor giver

This member goes out of their way to do nice things for their friends. They buy them lunch, pay for their cover and drinks at the bar, lend them their class notes, and so on. There's nothing wrong with treating your buddies or giving them a helping hand here and there, but you can go too far with it. For one, it can make you seem like you're insecure, and think you have to buy people's company. Parasitic types may mooch off you. It can make the recipients of your favors feel uncomfortably obligated and in debt. Throwing your money and time around can make you seem like you're low on financial or social common sense, and cause others to lose respect for you.

The reluctant therapist

Your friends need a lot of emotional support at this point in their lives, and you're there to listen. Again, there's nothing wrong with that. It is an issue if they constantly want to vent to you, without any concern for your own time or emotional needs. They may be in a lot of pain and not realize they're being draining and over-relying on you. However, that doesn't change the fact that it's not good for you to be doing so much mental labor.

The reluctant organizer

Many friendship groups have one or two people who naturally take on the event organizer role. If it's just part of their personality, and they're happy to do it, there's no harm in that. Being the organizer is less-healthy when you only do it because you'd hardly ever see anyone otherwise. The rest of the group may not have anything against you, but are just lazy about setting up plans themselves. They know you'll do the work, so they let that happen. At worst, they're more indifferent to you, and won't show up unless you bribe them by arrange some sort of enticing get together.

The reluctant chauffeur

That is, you have a car and give your friends tons of rides. If you couldn't offer that service, you doubt they'd keep you around. I don't mean they don't have cars, and appreciate that you can help them get around every now and then. I mean when they unabashedly use you as a free taxi.

The reluctant designated driver

When everyone goes out drinking it's taken for granted you'll be the D.D. This is especially bad if you drink as well, but are put in the position of not being allowed to. Even if you don't drink, you friends may still be disrespectful and assume that you're always going to drive them all home at the end of the night.

The reluctant host

You've got a bigger apartment off campus. You're renting a house near all the bars downtown. You've got a nice bedroom in the basement, and your parents don't hassle you if you have a bunch of people over. It's taken for granted most of the group's get togethers are going to be at your place. It's more than you'd like, but you feel you don't have a say in the matter. Your friends also don't help clean up the next day, eat your food without replacing it, or get you in trouble with your parents or neighbors.

The reluctant nightclub babysitter

Your friends expect you to watch out for them when they act like drunk dumbasses while you're out at bars and clubs. They need you to drag them away from creepy guys they're flirting with, keep them from getting into fights, or make sure they don't misplace their stuff. Friends watch out for each other. That's a good thing. What's not is when they assume they can act however they want, that you'll always be following behind to save them from themselves, and that your own fun that night is secondary.

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Some reasons people can fall into unhealthy roles in their social circle

People of any age can fall into toxic, counterproductive roles in their group, though there are a few reasons I think it's more likely to happen to someone who's younger:

Ways to avoid these roles in the first place

Some options if you've already fallen into an unhealthy role in your social circle