Said facts speak fairly loudly in John's case. It would be fairly difficult to look at the way he treats Ted and think of John as being his friend. When he's not boiling with rage about something that isn't his business, he can't wait to mock the man at every little reverse. He also doesn't really much socialize with the people in his neighborhood because any man he might meet is a man he thinks of as "a husband of one of Elly's friends" and thus somehow not safe to talk to. He isn't even really that close to his brother-in-law despite having the fear of Elly's blind rages in common. Despite all of this, John insists that he's a great pal and an out-going fellow who's surrounded by bafflingly distant people.
Elly suffers from a similar disconnect between perception and reality. Just as it's hard to see how a man who burns with rage about something he doesn't really understand is Ted's friend, it's tough to see how a woman who abandoned Annie Nichols in disgust because she only thought that the woman forgave her erring husband is any sort of a good friend. The instant things get tough, Elly shrinks away in horror. Ah, well. At least she didn't try to screw with Annie's love life the way she did with Connie's; my guess is that Phil, Ted and Connie would have all been far better off had Elly not been as crappy a friend as she was a sister.
Of course, as bad as they are as individuals, they're worse in concert. As I've said before, most of the people that they think of as friends are actually clients whom they shamelessly exploit. This leads us from the merely difficult to the impossible: seeing how the children could possibly be good friends to the people defending themselves from them.