Science says your mean friend probably only wants what is best for you
Treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen
That bitchy friend in the group chat might not actually be a bad mate. A new study by Plymouth University showed that “People may try to make someone else feel negative emotions if they think experiencing those emotions will be beneficial in the long run…people may sometimes seek to induce negative emotions in others for altruistic reasons, not simply for their own pleasure or benefit.”
What the study is really saying is that when your so called bezzie mate told you that meeting your ex was weak and would end in disaster they weren’t reveling in your tears or being super insensitive. They were actually looking to the future and trying to help you make good decisions long term. They were being cruel to be kind. The scenario the participants in the study were given was actually about reacting to someone who felt helpless in light of a breakup.
The team at Plymouth University said that the results are applicable to many situations, “We identified several everyday examples where this might be the case—for instance, inducing fear of failure in a loved one who is procrastinating instead of studying for an exam,” said lead author Belén López-Pérez. So that flatmate who didn’t wake you before setting off for the library because they thought you deserved a lie in – basically a snake.
Turns out your mean friends are the ones who care for you the most.