Over time, all of us develop different friendships. Sometimes it goes amazingly well, and those people stay in our lives forever. Other times… not so much.
It’s important to recognize what an actual good friend looks like.
So, if you struggle to be a good friend, this might be the advice you’ve been looking for.
So, let’s get going. Here are the ten personality traits that are essential in any good friend.
1) Good friends are up for a balanced relationship
Every relationship we hold in our lives needs to be balanced.
Reciprocity is essential to a good friendship, and when something feels equal, we can “relax,” so to speak.
Nobody is neglecting the needs of the other person, and it’s satisfactory.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to play certain “roles” in your friendship, or even worse–keep count of what you’ve done and whose turn it is to give back.
I’m talking about a natural feeling when you know who needs support at this moment and who can give more than take.
It’s a never-ending game or feeling each other and knowing what’s better to do at this moment–help or ask for support.
I remember when I had to be the only support for someone that, when I needed it, wasn’t there for me. That’s the opposite of what I mean.
A friendship will not always be 50/50, sometimes someone will have to be there a lot, and the balance would be, let’s say, 70/30.
However, the important thing is that things even out at some point.
Otherwise, believe me, the friendship starts to feel exhausting, and at some point, either you or the other person will give up.
2) They’re dependable…
Dependable people keep their promises. They are there when you need them, and they defend you if necessary.
Through thick and thin, you know you can count on them.
Of course, they’re not superheroes: sometimes, they will need support, and they will even need to be alone for a little while. That’s okay; they’re human, just like you are.
Dependable people usually:
- Value others’ time and never come late;
- Actively listen to others and are ready to give them a piece of advice;
- Make time for being there for their friends and help when needed.
My friends know I’m not perfect. I’m a little self-absorbed sometimes, I struggle with making good gifts, and I can’t meet up frequently.
However, they also know that I’ll be there for them if they need me. No matter how long it takes for them to get back on their feet.
3) …and emotionally intelligent
This term is key when we’re talking about romantic connections, but it’s also essential when speaking about friendships.
Emotional availability allows for good communication and healthy boundaries.
A good, emotionally intelligent friend helps you become better. They listen to you, and they consider your opinion on things. Plus, you know you can rely on their advice as well.
Having emotionally available friends also helps with our self-esteem: we don’t feel ignored or misunderstood by them.
4) You know they will protect you, no matter what
Good friends protect each other.
Toxic family and dodgy exes will hesitate to bother you if you have an actual, close friendship with someone protective.
Even if you aren’t present, they will stop the gossip mill immediately if necessary. They will correct people when they say mean things; you know they’ll watch your back.
It’s actually priceless to have a friend like this.
5) Good friends help you become a better person
The great thing about healthy relationships is that they change us for the better.
Think about a toxic friend you’ve had in the past. If you regret saying something harsh to them, chances are you were just defending yourself against their mean streak.
It’s as the saying goes: hurt people hurt people.
Good friends, on the other hand, will help you become the best person you can possibly be.
They won’t even be aware of it sometimes!
Their actions will inspire you to work on your flaws and recognize your mistakes.
This is another reason why it’s so important to have good friends.
6) They want to solve your problems
I don’t mean this negatively, of course. I just mean that a good friend wants what’s best for you. They’re always looking for solutions to your problems even if you don’t ask them to do it.
Let’s say you’re job hunting. A good friend will send you the job offers they see, and they might even get a good word in if they can.
What’s not to love about that?
After all, the reciprocity in your relationship just shows you’d do the same for them.
7) They make time for you…or at least try to
Once I hit 30 years old, meeting with friends became an almost impossible task. We have to schedule things a month in advance.
There are simply too many things to do at the same time: family commitments, work, children, etc. It seems like there’s never enough time for a casual meeting with friends.
You just don’t prioritize it. Somehow you feel they’ll understand.
But that’s how even the best friendships may end…by simply dying put.
When you become older, keeping a friendship becomes more difficult. You have to actually put in some effort to see each other and keep the relationship flourishing.
Instead, you will potentially have to sacrifice grocery shopping or a few hours of sleep to meet them.
That’s normal and to be expected if you take into consideration how many new responsibilities you have right now.
It doesn’t mean your friends love you less; there’s just a lot going on.
If you can’t meet, they will understand, and you should do the same for them.
8) They think about your best interest first
This is something that people won’t discuss frequently: a good friend can get to know us better than we do ourselves.
For example, if a friend of mine introduces me to a potential romantic interest, I would trust their judgment. They know the kind of person I am and who I would get along with.
When I’m feeling down, my good friends are there to tell me matter-of-factly that my negative self-talk is completely fictional.
It’s happening right now in my life, actually. I am trying to gain confidence preparing for a conference, and although I am very scared, my friends have an unbreakable faith in my public speaking skills.
Good friends become our greatest allies, and they’re not afraid to call us out if necessary. They keep us focused on our goals, and they guide us through crises when we need them.
9) They’re brutally honest
Now let’s clarify something real quick: good friends are honest, not cruel. They’re not the same thing.
Of course, they won’t sugarcoat things, but they won’t take pleasure in making you feel bad. They will only call you out if something you’re doing can harm you or others.
They’re not afraid to be the “bad guy” for a while if it means you won’t be facing worse things on your own.
They might speak to you kindly, but they won’t beat around the bush if you’re in danger.
Sometimes, they will be the wake-up call you need, even if you don’t want them to be.
10) Your friendship will last for years
As with every relationship, nothing is guaranteed. However, there’s a high chance that you and your friend will enjoy each other’s company for many years to come.
Even if you live far away from each other and live completely different lives, you’ll always have a place in their heart, and vice versa.
Friendships are as important as romantic connections. A good friend can accompany us through our entire lives.
The foundations? Love, respect, appreciation for each other, and a willingness to put in the work.
Having a good friend means you’re very lucky!
The most common questions about friendships
1) How do I make new friends?
As we go through life, our opportunities to meet and bond with new people reduce.
We get caught up in the routine and don’t actively look to meet new people. However, it’s still possible to bond with someone new.
You might find new friends when you:
- Join a club: it can be a book club, knitting, painting, or anything else. There’s probably a local club doing something you enjoy in your area. This is a good way to meet people with similar interests.
- Think local: As a general rule, local communities organize different activities and events that are interesting and free to attend. Look up on the internet or check the local newspaper that only sells in your area. You might be surprised by how many things are going on!
- Learn something new: if you sign up for classes, you will have the opportunity to meet new people. Learn French, Yoga, crocheting, or play some board games. The important thing is that you enjoy the activity and the group of people you’ve joined.
- Start volunteering: Working together for a bigger goal can be just what you need to make new friends. Volunteering is a great way to meet people and do something for others.
- Go out more often: If one of your friends has a bigger group, join their meetups. They will introduce you to new people, and you’ll make friends in no time.
2) How do you spot a fake friendship?
It’s not always easy. However, it’s not impossible to detect either.
Toxic people and friendships have some common patterns that are worth examining in detail.
You won’t fall into a bad relationship if you pay attention.
These are some characteristics:
- Fake friends make poor excuses not to hang out;
- They only talk about themselves;
- They don’t ask about your life or your problems;
- They won’t commit when they have to;
- They will badmouth you in front of other people.
Having a toxic friend can hurt a lot. But it’s only right to cut them off and find genuine, nice people to be friends with.
3) Is it normal not to have friends?
People need people. And at the end of the day, it’s always nice to have at least a few good friends around.
On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who doesn’t need anyone and likes to spend time alone–it’s fine too!
The important thing is to understand if you don’t have friends because it’s your choice or because you lack certain social skills, and that’s something you could potentially work on.
Do what’s better for you!
4) How can I differentiate between kinds of friendships?
To me, there are two types of friendships: casual ones and close ones.
These are some of the characteristics of casual friend relationships. You normally hang out in a group, and you don’t put an effort to meet separately from it.
Close friendships are different. You don’t need a special occasion or event to meet your close buddies. Instead, you’ll actively want each other’s company and meet up to:
- Talk about your problems;
- Share your worldview;
- Tell them your secrets;
- And so on.
Not every casual friendship has to become a close one. But there’s always potential!
5) What benefits do friendships have?
Having psychological support is more important than you think.
We all need someone to be there for us when things are bad, and we need someone to celebrate when things are going great.
But apart from that, friends can:
- Help you find a purpose and a sense of belonging;
- Reduce your stress levels by boosting your happiness;
- Make you a more confident person;
- Help you through traumas, whether it’s heartbreak, loss, or illness;
- Help you recover from a bad habit, such as addiction or a sedentary lifestyle.
Your overall physical health can improve too, if you have good friends.
Your chances of facing depression, anxiety, and even high blood pressure can diminish if you know you have the support of a friend.
6) How can I become a better friend?
Let’s do a little test.
Read through them and see if you identify with these affirmations:
- I don’t judge others;
- I can trust other people;
- I’ve been told I am a good listener;
- I am loyal;
- I am funny;
- I am honest;
- I am empathetic to other people’s problems;
- I can be relied upon if needed;
- I am happy when my friends are doing well;
- I am there for my friends in their bad moments;
- I can find a silver lining in a bad situation;
- I am defensive of my friend’s well-being.
If you agree to most of these statements, you’re a good friend. Friendships require effort, like most of the relationships we have.
If you’re making that effort, you’re golden.
However, if you feel like you could improve your friendship dynamics, these are some of the things you can do:
- Remember to check in on your friends, especially those who are having a bad time;
- Listen actively and try to help your friends with practical solutions;
- Celebrate their wins, however small;
- Don’t remind them of their mistakes, especially if they have already done things to improve;
- Be there when they ask you to be;
- Be empathic even if you’ve heard their problems a thousand times;
- If they’re in danger, don’t be afraid to intervene;
- Make them laugh and see something positive.
To sum up
No matter the stage of life you find yourself at, friends are essential.
As you grow old and live through different things, the dynamic of a friendship can change.
However, strong friendships will sustain you and help you face challenges head-on, year after year.
The essence of a friendship doesn’t change: respect, support, and love remain the main pillars that a good friendship lies on.