A true friend is something that everyone needs in their life. Every day we have had times when we doubt the relationships we have with other people in our life, and sometimes, you may question how close you and other person actually are. Are they an acquaintance, a good friend or more than that?
When you think about all the different characteristics that make up a friend, it can be difficult to determine how close you are with someone else. We’re going to look at what makes people real friends as opposed to just buddies.
Benefits Of True Friendship
True friendships are essential to our well-being, happiness, and personal growth. There are lots of different benefits of true friendship, here are some of the most well known benefits:
- Emotional Support: True friends provide emotional support during tough times. They’re there to listen, provide comfort, and help you process your emotions. You can share your fears, joys, and hopes with them, knowing they won’t judge or ridicule you.
- Honest Feedback: Friends give you honest feedback. They’re not afraid to tell you the truth, even when it’s difficult to hear. This can help you grow as a person, make better decisions, and avoid mistakes.
- Help and Assistance: A true friend is someone you can rely on. They’ll help you when you’re in need, whether it’s moving to a new house, facing a personal crisis, or needing someone to watch your pets while you’re on vacation.
- Shared Experiences: Sharing experiences with friends can enrich your life. Whether it’s going on a trip together, enjoying a meal, or just hanging out, these shared experiences can create fond memories and deepen your bond.
- Personal Growth: True friendships can also promote personal growth. Your friends can inspire you to pursue your goals, improve yourself, and step out of your comfort zone. They can also expose you to new ideas, perspectives, and experiences.
- Mental Health Benefits: Research has shown that strong social connections can help reduce stress, improve mood, and even increase longevity. Friends can help you navigate through stressful situations, provide a sense of belonging, and promote a positive outlook on life.
- Companionship: True friends provide companionship, helping to stave off loneliness and isolation. This sense of companionship can contribute to your overall happiness and satisfaction in life.
- Acceptance: A true friend accepts you as you are, with all your strengths and weaknesses. They value you for who you are as a person, not what you do or what you have. This kind of unconditional acceptance can boost your self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Trust and Loyalty: In a true friendship, there’s a high level of trust and loyalty. You know that your friend will keep your secrets, stand by you, and have your back.
Remember, quality is more important than quantity when it comes to friendships. Understanding what a friendship actually involves is tough, so let’s look at some of the characteristics that make someone a true friend in more detail.
A True Friend is Honest and Real With You
A friend who tells you how they feel and shows you who they are no matter what. They don’t hide themselves from you, and truly let you into their life.
They will openly discuss their problems and their disappointments, even if they think that it might upset you. This can be from surface level topics all the way through to personal stuff that they wouldn’t share with anyone else.
This includes things that they say about you – they’ll always say this to your face. You may never know about your flaws if you have no-one to keep you in check, and this is something that a true friend will be honest with you about (but of course, they would be doing it with love and empathy, not malice).
They tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear
Following on from the above, good friends will tell you the truth no matter what, even if it’s something that you don’t want to hear. Although some people may worry about hurting your feelings, a true friend will hurt your feelings intentionally if they believe it’s for the greater good over the long term.
A true friend is available whenever you need them, and they won’t be influenced by other people’s opinions, even if it doesn’t go with the status quo. This can result in many arguments and disagreements, which are totally normal in real friendships.
They make time for you
We all tend to have a busy calendar, but even in the busiest of times, they’ll still be able to find some time to spend with you, even if it’s just for a few minutes over the phone. They’ll make you feel heard when you have no-one else to talk to.
True friendship is making your relationship an absolute necessity in life, even when time is scarce. Ideally, you’ll spend quality time with them over a coffee or go to events together. But, when they’re facing challenges and time constraints in their own life, they make just send you a WhatsApp message checking you’re okay.
Open-minded and accepting
The best friends will learn to accept your unique personality and the things that you have to offer the world, which includes accepting the flaws that you have too. The nature of friendships is that disagreements occur with one another, and in some ways, it’s not normal to not have disagreements and arguments with friends.
No matter where things go, friends will not judge the decisions that you make too harshly. Instead, they find a balance to let you know what they need to when they think it’s in your best interests.
Real friendship is listening intently when you speak
Great friends will not hesitate to start conversations with you, but they’ll listen to you as much as they talk. We all know a shallow person that loves talking about themselves, but a better friend will allow you to contribute to a conversation.
In short, they listen as much as they talk, especially when you’re having serious conversations with one another.
Close friends make sure you’re taken care of
We all go through rough times, but a true friend will be there to take care of you when you really need them (and vice versa, too). When you’re dealing with a difficult situation, you can lean on them for advice or help with their predicament.
Whereas a bad friend is someone that is never there for you in your time of need (but coincidentally, they’re always quick to ask something of you when they need it).
They are loyal
When life is hard, you need an amazing friend that you will always be in your corner, and for this you need to find someone who is gonna be loyal to you. No matter what, a good friend will be on your side to defend you in the face of adversity.
Often, loyal people will be there during the worst of times and the traumatic events that we all face in life. When they hear other people talking about you behind your back, they’ll stand up for you – although you may think it, not everyone would do this, and it’s a sign of a true friend.
You don’t need a social battery to spend time with them
Do you ever feel like some people are just draining to be around? Like having a conversation with them saps your energy, and when you’ve finished, you need to go home to be alone and recharge your batteries.
With a real friend, this never happens. Hanging out with them feels like second nature to you, and this kind of bond is something that can only be built up over time. Even if you meet up with an old friend, you click back into exactly how you were the last time that you saw them.
You can tell them anything without fear of judgment
You know you have a best friend when you can say anything to them without being worried about them judging you. This can include your deepest and darkest secrets that you don’t share with anyone else.
Because a true friend is on your side, it doesn’t matter if you tell them things that are private. They help you to feel heard, and feel comfortable in your own skin so you can be who you truly are.
You can count on them for a good time
When you have a bad day, your best friend can make always find the right words to say to make you feel better. Whether it’s problems in your relationship or an issue with your family, chatting to them helps you deal with the things that are on your mind.
And when the time comes for it, they know how to cheer you up. Whether that’s going out for a night on the dance floor or just a night in watching movies and eating ice cream, close friends now how you make you smile.
How To Foster And Maintain True Friendships
It’s not enough to just build strong relationships – the hard part is maintaining those relationships over years and decades. Fortunately, there are many good ways that you can make sure your friendship with someone lasts.
Friendships are essential for leading a fulfilled and happy life. Here are some practical steps to foster and maintain true friendships:
1. Be Yourself: Remember that true friends accept you for who you are. Be genuine, authentic, and true to your character. People are drawn to honesty and authenticity. Never try to change who you are to fit in.
2. Active Listening: When your friends speak, listen attentively. Show empathy and understanding. This shows them that you value their thoughts and feelings. This includes maintaining eye contact, nodding when you understand, and responding appropriately.
3. Express Appreciation: Show your friends that you appreciate them. This can be through words of affirmation, gifts, spending quality time with them, or even through physical touch (like a hug).
4. Reliable and Dependable: Be there for your friends when they need you. You can be a shoulder to lean on in their times of need, or a voice of reassurance when they are doubting themselves.
5. Communicate Openly: Open and honest communication is key to any relationship. Discuss your feelings, thoughts, and ideas openly with your friends. Also, address any issues or misunderstandings before they escalate.
6. Respect Boundaries: Everyone has personal boundaries. Respect these and encourage your friends to communicate their boundaries with you as well.
7. Share Experiences: Engage in activities together. Shared experiences create memories and foster stronger bonds. These could be hobbies, trips, sports, or even just watching a movie together.
8. Support Each Other: Encourage your friends to pursue their goals and dreams. Be their biggest cheerleader. Celebrate their successes and support them in their failures.
9. Show Empathy: When your friends are going through tough times, try to understand and feel their emotions. Comfort them and offer help if needed.
10. Forgive and Forget: No one is perfect. When conflicts arise, handle them with maturity. Learn to forgive and forget. Holding grudges can harm a friendship.
11. Spend Quality Time: Regularly spending time together helps maintain the bond of friendship. This doesn’t mean you need to meet daily, but a regular catch up, even if online, helps keep the relationship strong.
12. Stay in Touch: Regular communication is essential. You can use social media, phone calls, texts, or emails to stay in touch, especially if distance is a factor.
Remember, friendship is a two-way street. The effort has to be mutual and the above actions should be reciprocated by both sides for a friendship to remain strong. The definition of a true friendship is one that will last the tests of time.
A lasting friendship is built on trust, and unfortunately once this is broken, it’s impossible to repair.