Being Friends With Your Boss: 15 Disadvantages and Drawbacks

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

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Friendships in the workplace can become a little tricky, especially if you have struck up a friendship with your boss or supervisor. What does such a friendship mean for your standing in the workplace? Will being friends with your boss or supervisor be detrimental to your career and connections with co-workers? 

Being friends with your boss has very obvious advantages, of course. Who wouldn’t want to work for someone that has respect and a liking for? But it’s never that simple, is it? When you befriend your boss or supervisor, you set yourself apart from your coworkers and, in certain occasions, that can be detrimental to your career.

You might feel the desire to jump at the opportunity to be friends with your boss or supervisor. Perhaps your boss is the type of person that you just click with, but does that mean that you should put your job and work comfort on the line for it? Make sure that you consider the possible downsides of being friends with your boss before you take that plunge. Below are 15 disadvantages for your consideration.

15 ways being friends with your boss/supervisor is a bad idea:

1. Puts professional image at risk.

If you make friends with your boss, you might start to act a bit buddy-buddy at work. Not only will this look unprofessional to your coworkers, but it might also make you look unprofessional to customers and superiors. It’s best to keep it professional at work – that’s possible, but it may be tricky in the workplace. 

2. Risks work-life balance.

Being friends with a boss or supervisor can create an unbalance in your life. It could mean that you see your friends at work, as well as after work. If your private friends are your work friends too, you might allow work and personal lifelines to blur. 

3. Puts constructive criticism at risk.

In order for a business to grow effectively, it must rely on unbiased performance evaluations. Employees must also accept and use constructive criticism from supervisors and superiors in order to grow and become more productive. When the boss and an employee are friends, it can be hard to provide constructive criticism. Imagine how difficult it will be if your boss (who is your friend) has to fire you… 

4. Risk accusations of favoritism.

Whether you deserve it or not, when you receive praise, acknowledgment, awards, or promotions in the workplace, your coworkers are going to claim “favoritism”. Your friendship with the boss will be all the evidence that an angry or jealous coworker needs to confirm this, so be careful of this particular issue. If you are friends with your boss, it would be best to keep it on the low down at work. 

5. Social media issues when job hunting.

If you’re friends with your boss, you’re undoubtedly (or at least, most likely) connected on social media. This also means that they can see who you are connecting with and when you are on the hunt for another job. Having these online connections could cause issues for future job hunting missions. 

6. Risk of missing out on promotion or advancement.

If your friend (and also your boss) fears being called out on favoritism or unfair treatment, he/she might hesitate to promote or advance you in the workplace. This means that by merely being friends with the boss or supervisor, you may be at risk of progressing in your career. 

7. You can never really escape work (can’t switch off).

Let’s say that Jim is your boss – and also your friend. It’s Saturday afternoon, and you call Jim to go for a beer and to watch the game. Jim meets you at the local pub, and soon the conversation gets onto work….now what? Yup, when you’re friends with and hang out with the boss, you take work issues everywhere with you. You might find it hard to escape work and actually just switch off.

8. Risk of alienating your peers/co-workers.

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When you’re friends with the boss, you might find that your coworkers keep a wide berth between you and them. You might find that they don’t gossip or joke in front of you and keep things light with you. This is probably for fear of you repeating something to the boss. 

9. You may be called on unfairly.

Will your new friendship be fair and aboveboard, or will it be taken advantage of? You might find that the boss or supervisor takes advantage of your friendship by asking you to do things that aren’t part of your job description or that you are uncomfortable with. It’s not part of the job, but it is part of the friendship. Where do you draw the line? Things could get complicated for you. 

10. Risk of undue pressure/expectations from co-workers.

When a coworker is in a tough spot with management or the boss, they may expect you to help them out by talking to the boss or “putting in a good word” for them. While this isn’t something you have to do, there is a risk that the expectation or pressure may exist or crop up. This, too, could put you in an awkward position caught between coworkers and bosses.

11. Your failures may be taken to heart by your boss/friend.

If you arrive at work late, mess up on a project, or let a customer down, you might find that your boss or supervisor comes down on you a little harder because you are friends. This can place unnecessary pressure on you to always outperform your colleagues and coworkers. It can become quite exhausting. 

12. Personal disputes may carry over into the workplace.

Are you sure that arguments outside of the office will remain outside of the office? Imagine getting into a heated argument with your friend in private on Friday night and having to face the same person as your boss on Monday morning. Can you be sure that your new supervisor or boss friend won’t take out private frustrations on you in the workplace? This is a big risk to take.

13. Risk of your role being scrutinized by peers and superiors.

Your relationship with the boss/supervisor could create discomfort for you in the workplace. Think about it…if you’re cushy with the boss or supervisor, it might cause coworkers to call into question your role in the business. Once this is done, you might find superiors watching you closely to see if your role is essential, how you are conducting yourself and if the boss/supervisor is showing you any sort of professional favoritism. If everything is aboveboard, there’s nothing to fear, but it can be draining to always be under scrutiny. 

14. Definite risk of feeling drained or worn out.

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Have you given much thought to how tiring it can be to feel like you are always on friend duty? When you’re friends at work and after hours, chances are that you will always feel like you have to be readily available to be a friend. You just can’t drop the ball. Feeling this way could eventually lead to you feeling worked out or drained. Burn out is something to be very careful of. 

15. Risk of a fall out, leaving you with no “friends” at work.

Being friends with the boss/supervisor is great to start with, but what happens if you have a fall out? What then? You are already alienated from your coworkers. Now without the boss as your friend, you might feel completely alone with absolutely no friends in the workplace. This can lead to depression, unhappiness, and job dissatisfaction. 

Last Word

If you are in a position where you are grappling with the idea of becoming closer to your boss or supervisor, consider all of the ways in which such a friendship could complicate your work life and career. Make sure that you make a decision fully aware of the possible disadvantages. Good luck!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.