When I finally succumbed to creating a TikTok account after resisting for far too long, I learned what everyone else in the world has already known for years: The app is full of fascinating, educational content. I’ve learned how to find the right beauty products for my skin type, how to change a light fixture, and, most recently, how to manage my friendships. During my routine nightly scroll, I stumbled across a TikTok from Tinx (AKA TikTok’s “big sister”) in which she explains the “Fatal Flaw Friend Theory.” After applying this rule to my friendships, all of my relationships became richer, more meaningful, and intentional. So what is the rule and why is it so important? Read on for my experience and how you can apply the rule to your own relationships.
What is the “Fatal Flaw Friend Theory?”
The rule (because it’s “more a rule than a theory,” as Tinx says) states that everyone has their own fatal flaw or a flaw that is going to cause you the most distress. Once you realize each friend’s fatal flaw, you either have to accept it and choose to not be bothered by it or rethink the friendship. If the fatal flaw is truly unacceptable and something you can’t look past (like constantly needing validation, telling harmful white lies, or always canceling plans at the last minute), the friendship should probably be reevaluated. Otherwise, you’ll constantly be mad at a friend for a simple factor of their personality you’re already aware of and can expect. In other words, identify what irks you the most about each friend, and then decide if it’s something you want to accept and not let bother you or if it’s something worth rethinking the friendship over.
@tinx Answer to @jfeldman20 another tinx theory that has served me well #adviceforgirls #friendshipadvice #theories ♬ original sound – Tinx
I learned to appreciate my friends more
As someone who didn’t meet her best friends until college (except you, mom—love you!), I’m less experienced with friendships than those who grew up sharing halves of a bracelet from Claire’s. Because it took me so long to find friends whose personalities and values aligned with my own, I always worried that if some of their traits bothered me, it meant that we must not be good for each other. Tinx’s rule helped me realize that some flaws should be accepted. Just because a friend has a personality flaw doesn’t mean they’re not a great friend.
My two best friends are strong-willed, less-than-patient, leadership types (they’re fire signs—they can’t help it!). This can sometimes rub me the wrong way, but viewing our friendships through the Fatal Flaw Friend Theory, I saw that small annoyances (like being 15 minutes early to everything or asking for advice they won’t use) are just that: small annoyances. I can accept these minor flaws because when I accept them for who they are, I’m able to see that my friends add so much value to my life. I stopped feeling annoyed when they were extra early or couldn’t sit still, as those were traits I could expect. The Fatal Flaw Friend Theory reminded me to take my friends’ shortcomings less seriously. Instead of getting annoyed, I’m able to take a step back and remember that their flaws aren’t worth taking away from all the positive aspects of our relationships.
…and I realized which friendships weren’t worth keeping
On the other hand, a couple of other friends are overly competitive and have a history of spewing backhanded compliments. I tried to accept these friends for who they are, thinking I would be a bad friend if I didn’t. But after realizing their fatal flaw might actually be fatal for our friendship, I realized that the cons simply outweighed the pros. Their fatal flaw was not something I could (or wanted to) accept and appreciate, so why bring myself so much negativity getting annoyed about traits that I could expect from them? It was up to me to either let their ongoing behaviors get to me every day or distance myself from them and focus on the people who bring me joy.
Ultimately, the fatal flaw theory states that if you spend more time in a relationship feeling bad than good, then it’s probably time to walk away. But if a friendship is worth having, accept people for who they are so you’re not spending your relationships feeling annoyed or frustrated. This rule has become my new measuring stick of friendships past, present, and future: Past relationships ended because we couldn’t accept each other’s flaws, my current friendships are more fulfilling because I’m more patient and accepting, and I know to expect that future friends will also have flaws, but it’s up to me to find the flaws that are worth accepting (because I have a long list of flaws my best friends accept too!).
How to apply the Fatal Flaw Theory to your friendships
1. Check in with yourself
It’s common to get so lost in a friendship that you don’t question if you actually enjoy it. Maybe you are stuck in routine, have been friends for so long, or feel like you need this friend for affirmation or connections. You might not even realize that the friendship isn’t truly bringing you joy. Take time to reflect on how you feel when you spend time with your friend. If your friend’s flaws are so detrimental that you dread being around them, there may be a problem you just can’t overlook.
2. Get clear on your goals
What are you hoping to get out of the friendship? Are you looking for a casual shopping partner, someone you can confide in, or maybe something in between? Take the time to consider what your goals are for a friendship (and you might have different goals for different friends). All friendships serve a different purpose; for example, if you’re looking for a lifelong friend who’s always there for you, but they’re someone who never picks up their phone, you’ll never feel satisfied with the relationship because your goal isn’t being met. Not everyone can be everything to you, and it’s OK to have different friends for different purposes, but make sure your needs are being met.
3. Set boundaries
If you’re not totally enjoying a relationship but aren’t ready to give up on it, first try establishing some personal boundaries. Boundaries provide others with the guidelines for how you expect to be treated and what you won’t tolerate. For example, if you have a competitive friend whose behavior stresses you out (whether it’s competition over a job, a relationship, or your friend group), take responsibility for your part in the competitive dynamic and express to your friend what you want your dynamic to be instead. If someone isn’t willing or able to abide by these guidelines, they may not be worth your time. A good friend will always respect your needs and work to grow together.