We have all heard it said, some of us have even said it, "I'm a bad friend". That term causes me to pause and question the validity of the true meaning of the word friend.
Friend is defined as
"a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard; a person who gives assistance; patron. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile"
We are friends; we have been for a long time. We hang out together, laugh and joke, have fun and confide in each other. I know that if I ever sent out the urgent message of I need you; you would be there for me. You are a good friend.
We are good friends, but you forget to answer your phone or it's not working, often. You just don't look at it. You don't mean any harm when you say no, I don't want to do that, you genuinely don't want to do whatever is being asked of you. You are a good friend with good intentions and anyone who knows you knows not to expect you to answer your phone or call back right away. It's just part of who you are. There are more important things than a phone and if you are really needed, nine times out of 10 we can guess where you are and find out how to get a hold of you.
We were once good friends and then something happened. Boundaries were crossed, words were said that can't be taken back, feelings were hurt and while forgiveness may have been granted, we are no longer friends. You are not a bad friend, because any type of friend would not be maliciously harmful towards anyone they care about in any situation. In that moment, you instead became no longer a friend. Not an enemy, but certainly not a friend.
We know each other fairly well, we see and talk to each other often, but I know that you are incapable of being there in any sort of emergency or any need for that matter. You come around when no one else is there for you, and you only seem to want my company when it is convenient for you. You are not a friend.
When does a person transition from an acquaintance to a friend, a friend to a good friend, and then to a person you used to be friends with? That is all based on the individual experiences between just those two people. While others may try to bias you on any given situation, it is really between two people.
I don't think it's possible to be a "bad friend." I believe you are either a friend or not a friend. The term "bad" when placed in front of friend simply turns it into an oxymoron. Life and situations happen that may cause you to reevaluate friendships and with whom you choose to remain friends. Sometimes during that transition, you may lose track of an old friend, but when that happens it doesn't make you a "bad" friend; it makes you a human with a life of your own. As much as we would all like to be everything to our friends, that simply isn't realistic. The amount of effort you put into any relationship including friendships has a direct correlation to what is happening in your life.
We all have many relationships that cause us not to be able to focus on just one person or just one friendship. When those situations occur, the people who are truly your friends will ask you if you are OK, and let you have the time and space you need to get right with whatever is happening. Those who instantly turn hostile have just proven they are not by definition, your friend.
If you are truly friends with someone, you can go a day, week, month or even a year without speaking to each other because life happens. Kids happen, love and jobs happen and all of these things pull you from people who may have once held a higher spot on the priority list. When you do get back in touch with your friend, it's as if it was yesterday since you last spoke; only now there is a lot to catch up on.
Those who instantly turn negatively on you when your priorities are forced to change are not "bad friends" they simply are not your friends. Those people fit into the situation listed previously of a friendship based on convenience for them and them alone. Those people typically are very narcissistic, and play the victim role a lot.
When it all comes down to it, why would you either be or have someone as a bad friend? If someone isn't supportive of you and your life, regardless of their opinions on your choices, if someone is constantly telling you how wrong you are or your actions are wrong let them go. Let them be in their own misery without you. Your life will be so much happier without the drama of a "bad friend."