Any given day or time, you can type in your search browser  #realfriends and a plethora of pictures of young ladies will pop up. But how many of us actually have “real friends?”  What about those toxic friendships that we need to let go of but are afraid to let go? With the recent events of the young girl in Chicago, Kenneka Jenkins, who was found dead in a freezer, the #realfriends is questionable. Jenkins, who was out having a good time with her friends, also thought she was with real friends who had her back, but instead when she needed them the most they were nowhere to be found.

Often times we get consumed with having numerous friends that we forget about the ones who really have our back. This leads to us overlooking the ones that have been genuine to us, since the beginning.  To determine who your  #realfriends are here are five signs that will show you if the friendship is genuine or if you need to let it go.

Signs of a genuine friendship:

1. They motivate us to be better.

If you have a friend that is constantly pushing you to be your best when she is a keeper.

2. They pray for you and with you.

If your friend does not pray for you, then that’s not your friend. You should be able to party on Saturday night and go to 9 a.m. worship service on Sunday. Always remember if they are not praying for you then they are preying on you.

3. They really listen to you.

It is so important to have a friend that listens to you especially when you are in need of some good advice. When the conversations are not just one-sided and the dialogue is always two-ways this is a positive friendship.

4. They keep us calm when facing drama.

Now don’t get me wrong every girl should have that one turn up friend when it’s time to tear some stuff up, but if all of our friends are the turn-up friends we will be fighting for the rest of our life. We all need that one friend that will keep us calm and remind us that we have a 401k to protect and that we can’t lose our jobs over foolishness.

5. They are forgiving.

What is a friendship without forgiveness? No one is perfect and friends make mistakes. When conflict arises, real friends have the courage to reach out directly to you instead of gossiping and making matters worst.

Another type of friendship you have to be aware of is toxic friendships. Toxic friendships are the ones that leaves us drained and empty inside. How do we find the strength to be fearless and say enough is enough I will not hold on to an unhealthy friendship? I know moving on is easier said than done. After all this is your friend, you did have some good times together.  So how are you supposed to throw years of friendship away? Well it is definitely difficult, but not impossible to do. At this point we have to value ourselves more than the friendship. In other words you need to put your feelings first. According to Carolyn Steeber’s article “11 tips for letting go of toxic friendship, even if it’s impossible”, she states that it’s ok to let those friendships go their separate ways. I struggled with this one myself. I had a friend who I went through some of my hardest times in life with. I started noticing every time I would get over a situation she would always bring it up and I would relive the pain again. I would tell her over and over that I did not want to talk about the situation anymore, but she insisted. After awhile I realized any time I had exciting news to share she would bring up the past or point out a negative. Now I didn’t want to let the friendship go, in fact I was scared to let it go because we went through a lot together. I was afraid that no one would be a more genuine friend like she was to me, so I thought. But I couldn’t escape the feelings that I had every time I spoke with her.  I became mental drained after every conversation we had. It got to the point where I would ignore her calls and go weeks without talking to her. I had to realize that this friendship had run its course and it was time to let go. Although I feared the unknown of not having her in my corner, I found excitement in knowing that I did not need the added stress. I informed her on how I felt and reluctantly we decided to just go our separate ways. Slowly communication between us came to an end and instead of feeling sad or depressed, I felt relieved that the toxic friendship was no longer an issue.

So before you use #realfriends for the next group outing make sure those ladies are indeed your real friends and not a toxic friendship that you need to let go. Remember it is better to have 3 real friends who will be there immediately if needed, then to have 5 or more who will not be around when you need them the most.

Katrina Bryant