We all have an army of acquaintances and plenty of friends that drift in and out of our lives.
But for the most part, we only have a handful of people we hold dear.
Why is that? What is the difference? What makes a good friend? And why are good friends so special?
Let’s explore ten important traits that make for a great friend should have and make sure you are great friend material!
1) You respect boundaries
We all want to go the extra mile for a close friend, but sometimes we have to say “no”.
How someone reacts when we set our boundaries is something to pay attention to. Any good friend will understand that you can’t always oblige to everything.
Some people react negatively to a “no”; they may even try to manipulate you. This shows a total lack of respect for boundaries and shouldn’t be a welcome trait.
Genuine friends can and do say no to one another without any passive-aggressiveness or undue punishment.
It might not be that easy at first–to accept a ‘no’ from someone you consider as your close person.
But to maintain a long-lasting relationship you have to learn to give each other time and space when needed.
2) You accept them for who they are
Great friends understand not only boundaries but also differences between you, whether it is of opinions, hobbies, etc.
Our specific traits make us unique, and a good friend will revel in those differences. This means they won’t pressure you to change your behavior, wants, or needs.
To give you an example, sometimes life brings big changes, and people head in separate directions. A great friend will always want what’s best for you, even if it means you’ll have to separate or communicate less.
A great friend will:
- Accept you as you are;
- Respect your personality and the life choices you make;
- Wish only the best for you in every situation.
If you want to be a good friend, make sure to respect other people’s boundaries and learn how to support them in the way they need.
It may take years to build this understanding, but once you do, this’ll become a priceless trait in your friendship!
3) You give unselfishly
The best friends are generous ones; they give without the expectation of getting anything back.
We aren’t talking about materialistic giving. A good friend isn’t necessarily one dishing out lavish presents or lending money. Some of the most valuable gifts are more subtle…
Generous friends give us much more than material things: they donate their time, support, and simply their company without making you feel obligated to give them anything in return.
4) You’re fun-loving
One of the most important traits of a great friend is the ability to pick us up and lift spirits. More often than not, this is down to a good sense of humor.
A good buddy will make us laugh, even if the situation isn’t funny at all!
There’s nothing like sharing borderline-embarrassing anecdotes from our college ‘wins’ and ‘fails’ or remembering daredevil moments and drunken escapades together.
Regardless of age, we all want a friend who makes us laugh and makes memories worth revisiting.
A great friend is playful; they have a devilish twinkle behind their eyes and know how to get us to let loose and misbehave without breaking any rules.
So, if you’re goofy and fun-loving, you make an excellent friend!
5) You share more than small-talk
We are all guilty of keeping conversations light with some people.
It’s hard and unnecessary to open up to everyone and let them know your deepest secrets and desires. As humans, we divide our close circle of friends and those we keep at a distance.
With close friends, we have fewer personal barriers, and conversations flow without any “off-limit” topics.
Discussions go above and beyond the weather or the current streaming TV hit. You can talk about anything and everything, religion, politics, dreams, and your life goals.
You can cry without being judged and explore philosophical and existential questions with the right people.
Whatever the subject, with a good friend, chances are it won’t be boring!
6) You are their safe-space
A great friend is genuine, and because of that, they create a safe space for others to be vulnerable too.
True friends accept you wholeheartedly, whether in all your glory singing karaoke at a dive bar or in your PJs with mascara running down your face and blowing snot bubbles as you sob on the sofa.
We all turn to a friend when we are at our worst, and when trouble comes, we want somebody who sees past our flaws without judgment.
A great friend can make us feel accepted and relaxed.
You are like ‘healing dolphins’ – that are making each other lives better just by being there.
7) You make time to meet with them
Consistency is a crucial ingredient to any good friendship. We all have busy lives, and time can fly by, but a good friend is dependable and will always try to make time for you.
It doesn’t have to be for hours on end. Sometimes a ten-minute chin-wag or a couple of texts to get you through the day is enough.
Any relationship requires work and a little sacrifice. And with little or no contact, drifting apart is inevitable.
Building a solid friendship takes time, but you can only maintain closeness by regularly checking in.
8) You connect deeply
With a great friend, you’ll keep a close connection without always being physically present.
A great friend is emotionally available, they have an open heart, and there is soul-to-soul connectivity.
You can be miles apart but still, share everything you go through. Life is random, chaotic, wild, and unpredictable. A great friend brings the stability you need while navigating your way through.
You can bare your soul with a real friend and feel the connection no matter how far apart.
This is an extremely beautiful thing. With billions of us bouncing about on this big old rock, hurtling through space, we can find a soul who is always there for us, no matter where life brings us.
9) You become semi-telepathic
Great friends form a deep, almost telepathic connection with each other.
Have you ever finished each other’s sentences or thought of the same thing to eat or to watch at the same time?
This is a sign of a true, beautiful connection between two people.
You unconsciously learn each other’s moods and routines and anticipate the needs of one another… Or perhaps there is something more at work?
At times it can seem like there are psychic powers right out of a Stephen King novel going on!
But fret not, because if you can read each other’s minds, it only means that you are truly great friends!
10) You know how to forgive
A great friend will forgive you and put effort into understanding why you may have acted the way you did.
When someone accepts you, regardless of your flaws, they will accept your mistakes too.
We are all flung on this planet without a guidebook, and we all goof up sometimes.
So, as a great friend, you’ll:
- Try to understand the reasons why somebody behaved a certain way;
- Discuss what happened and listen to the person without judging them;
- Help them resolve the situation and offer your emotional support.
That said, no matter how close you may be to your friend, certain mistakes can test even the strongest friendships.
And that’s a part of the game.
However, accepting a friend’s warts doesn’t mean you put up with unacceptable behavior, especially when it comes to verbal or especially physical offense.
You should always try to forgive, but you can still choose to part ways and end a relationship that isn’t doing you any good.
Making friends as adults
Looking back, we all have amazing and not-so-amazing friends that have come and gone.
Some people disappear without having made much of an impact; while others touch our lives in a way that we remember them for years.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote goes: “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”
This sentiment rings very true for anyone who has ever had a supportive, close friend.
Making friends as a kid was as easy as a game of “hide and seek” or showing off a cool rock you found at the weekend. As an adult, it can sometimes seem much more complex.
But everyone is looking for a friend with the traits we have listed above. So, take them into account and try the following;
1) Venture outside of comfort zones
You can’t meet new people and form friendships without biting the bullet and trying new things.
I know new things can be intimidating. But embracing the unknown from time to time is important for your growth as a person and for potentially meeting new people.
I met a girl in a yoga class who was an avid runner. She instantly invited me to join her on her Sunday runs. But I was out of practice for a few years, and the thought of not being able to keep up with her pace made me hesitant even to consider her invitation.
Eventually, eager to form a new friendship, I said ‘yes.’ That was one of the best decisions I made last year.
Not only I gained myself a new, awesome friend, but I also progressed in my practice and signed up for a London Marathon, raising money for a charitable cause.
I would never be able to do it without venturing outside of my comfort zone with a supportive friend.
So, go for it!
Sign up for a new class or join a group of people doing something you’d like to learn. Everyone started somewhere, and no one was 100% ready to achieve great results.
Start small, and enjoy becoming a better person and gaining new friends!
2) Be approachable and ditch the phone in social spaces!
We all inherently want to connect, but no one wants to approach a person who looks preoccupied.
Speaking of myself, I’m definitely attached to my phone. But if it’s your problem too, you have to realize that someone busy scrolling doesn’t appear interested in communicating with anyone.
Imagine a party where some people are on their phones while others seem like they’d be interested in having a chat.
I wouldn’t want to approach someone who may be busy. Instead, I’d prefer to start a conversation with someone making eye contact and engaging with a warm, friendly demeanor that says: “I’m approachable. Come say hi!”
And, if you are honest, so would you! So, keep your phone in your handbag and not your hand and show the world that you’re ready to make some new friends!
3) Explore the local community
If you do some digging, you’ll probably find that your local community has a lot going on that you weren’t even aware of!
Strong adult friendships are often cultivated in local community activities. Honestly, being engaged in doing something meaningful together with other adults is one of the best ways of meeting new people.
So, join a social club. Ask at your town hall what classes are going on, or visit your local coffee shop and inquire about any voluntary work you could do with others.
Alternatively, put up a post to find like-minded people with similar interests who might want to get involved.
It only takes a little effort to find or build your community. Start doing it today, and a year from now, you’ll find yourself surrounded by great friends!
4) Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability
The biggest thing that sets a close friendship apart from the others is the vulnerability level between the two.
A best friend knows all your struggles as well as your triumphs. But by being vulnerable with other people and creating a safe space for them to be vulnerable with you, you can forge new friendships.
Start by sharing about something as simple as your hobbies, passions, and goals, and then talk a bit about the struggles you had to overcome on the way.
Be honest and open, and more likely than not, another person will open up to you too.
We all need a couple of great friends in our lives, and now you know what to look out for when choosing people to surround yourself with.
At the same time, I hope you’ve learned how to become a great friend to others. Because it takes two to tango, right?
The tips I shared will help you form friendships with rock-solid foundations, the type of friendships that withstand just about anything.
Get yourself the type of best friend that you can count on, even if you are separated. However, don’t forget to invest in forming new friendships that take time to grow and flourish.
Be open to new people and make yourself useful for the community, and it won’t be long until you make a bunch of great friends!