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It can be hard to be friends with someone who is negative all the time, but there is a way to handle them well.

We all have someone in our life who seems to never look on the bright side. People like this can drag us down and make us see only the negatives in life. These friends aren’t the best people to have around, so here are some tips on dealing with negative friends without cutting them out of your life.

[Related: How Friendships Work (Students)]

Try to Understand Where Their Negativity Is Coming From

Chances are there is a good reason your friend is negative. They may have a hard home life or be struggling with people at school. No matter what it is, make an effort to understand. Figuring out what is making that person act negatively is going to take time. It’s going to require you to actually build a relationship with that person and learn about what is going on in their life.

Be Patient

When your friend is acting negatively, don’t react right away. Don’t get mad. Be patient and listen to what they have to say. They might just be looking for someone who will listen. You can be that person for them. You might even be able to bring some comedy into the situation or be a positive influence on them.

Focus on Your Own Positivity

Don’t let their attitude bring you down. If you spend your time keeping a positive attitude, it will be a lot harder for them to drag you down. In the same way that their attitude can rub off on you, yours can rub off on them – but this will take work and intention! You could be able to pull them out of that negative place just by being positive. Now, that isn’t always how it works. Sometimes people are just being mean to be mean.

Don’t Take it Personally

People often look for something to complain about, that’s human nature. If you are the person in their life who is caring, then they probably want to complain to you about those things. That might make it feel like they are just dumping all of their negativity on you. This is probably because when something hard happens to them, they turn it into negativity and want to tell anyone who will listen about it. If they start being harsh or rude to you, it’s probably not because of something you did. It’s probably because of the situation they have going on and they are projecting it onto you.

While these tips might be effective in helping to deal with your negative friend, they won’t always work.

Set Boundaries

Some relationships or friendships just don’t work out. If that person’s negative attitude is affecting you and the way you see the world, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate. This doesn’t mean completely cutting that person off. Setting boundaries could start with a conversation with them about how the attitude is affecting you and how it’s making it hard to be their friend. They may listen, and they may not. If they don’t make changes, then it is a good idea to start spending less time with that person. You can still send them the occasional text asking how they are doing or invite them to events, but you don’t need to spend as much time with them as you did before. You don’t have to completely box them out of your life, but you cannot let their unhealthy behaviors and attitudes control you.

[Related: Managing Toxic Relationships (Students)]

Dealing with a negative friend is hard and can be exhausting! You may just want to be a good friend and stick by them no matter what, but that isn’t always the best thing for you. Use these tips next time you encounter a negative friend, and save yourself from falling into their negativity.

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. Have you ever had a negative friend? Or have you ever been the negative friend? What happened?
  3. Have you ever reacted in a bad to way to a negative person? What happened?
  4. Read Proverbs 13:20. What does this verse tell us about how the people around us can affect us? What does this mean for relationships with negative people?
  5. Why do you think it’s important to not just completely cut negative friends out of your life? What is a time when you may actually have to cut them out?
  6. What are some good boundaries you could set with a negative friend?
  7. What other tips would you give to someone who is dealing with a negative friend?
  8. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.