Think of the most valuable people in your life: what makes them so special? Meaningful relationships, both with family and friends, make life purposeful—, especially amidst difficult trials. However, there are some people who may appear to be friendly but in fact, are negative influences in your life. It’s important to keep in mind that you deserve to be in relationships where you are valued for who you are, and where the other person treats you in a way that you would want to treat others. As relationships require mutual effort and dedication, here are 12 characteristics to look for in a good friend (along with tips that will help you showcase these characteristics to your friends).
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A good friend will stay in touch with you in the long-term, even if you don’t get to talk to them every day. Good friends will be able to pick up where they left off, without seeing each other for years! Whether it’s through texts, handwritten letters, or phone calls, communication over a long period of time is a key signal that someone truly cares about you and the relationship. With the holidays coming up, sending a holiday card or wishing someone well is a simple yet impactful gesture that demonstrates thoughtfulness.
In addition to staying connected, a good friend will check up on you to stay informed on what’s happening in your life. Whether your latest news is inconsequential (like trying a new recipe) or more significant (like grieving the death of a loved one), a friend who checks up on you is one who is compassionate and genuinely interested.
While we all like it when others agree with us, but it’s necessary to have people who can provide open, honest feedback—both positive and negative. The key is that a true friend can present their criticism in a constructive way.
Similarly, a good friend is able to respectfully disagree with your views. The emergence of different perspectives does not automatically signify the end of a relationship—sometimes, it can actually strengthen your relationship while enhancing your understanding of an opposing perspective. A good friend will also demonstrate respect by appreciating you for who you are, treating you with dignity, and not taking advantage of you.
Not only should you be able to confide in a friend and know that your secret will be kept, but you should also be able to trust that your friend is loyal and reliable. A friendship that experiences endless rollercoasters of breakups and fights may not be one that offers loyalty and consistency.
6. Enthusiasm and support
It’s important to have relationships with people who will provide you with support in both the good and the bad times. Friends who make the extra effort to cheer you on at your soccer game or reach out to you when you’re in distress show that they prioritize you and are available to help.
7. A certain degree of competitiveness
Competition among friends is natural, but true friends will not allow competition to tear their relationship apart. Friendly competition can actually inspire you to have the motivation to improve and is not cutthroat or dividing.
A good listener is someone who really values what you have to say and pays attention to your words. If there is someone who remembered a small detail or fact that you mention, they could possibly be a good friend. Meanwhile, being attentive and truly listening to what your friends say can also demonstrate that you prioritize and value them as well.
As well as having a grateful heart, a good friend also expresses gratitude, whether it’s for a favor that you did or simply for the friendship you provide. It’s also important to show your gratitude for the people in your lives; while it’s easy to feel grateful, the failure to outwardly express gratitude may actually come off as ingratitude in the eyes of others.
Someone who encourages you to be a better person (either verbally or non-verbally) is a powerful, positive influence in your life. A friend should not judge and shame you into changing; rather, if you change because of a friend, it should be because their actions or personality traits inspire you to follow their example.
A good friend will not make you feel insecure or want you to change for no good reason. Instead, the type of friend who is worth having will boost your self-esteem by valuing your identity and unique qualities.
Finally, remember that a good friend is worthy of your time—you should cherish the memories, interactions, and conversations you have together.