Knowing how to be a good friend depends solely on your understanding of what friendship is. Friendships are a huge part of your life. They give you a sense of community and belonging. They help boost your self-esteem, reduce stress, and avoid unnecessary and unhealthy decisions and/or activities. In the long run, they save you a lot of mental health problems and physical health issues like high blood pressure. However, all these are only made possible when you have good friends. It is more of quality than quantity. The quality of your friendships is what matters most. As you expect strong, healthy friendships from your circle, you should also learn to be a good friend to them as being willing and able to reciprocate the effort of your friend(s) makes friendships strong and long-lasting. If you are willing to learn how to be a good friend, keep reading to find out.
How to be a good friend?
Learning how to be a good friend is a continuous process and it starts with a basic understanding of what friendship is. A lot of people fail at friendships because they do not know what is expected of them and what to expect of others, they have it mixed up.
What is friendship?
Friendship cannot be entirely defined but at the most basic explanation, it is a state of affection or endearment between two people who share a bond based on common beliefs and values. Oftentimes, we have a lot of people in our lives who have become our friends without even realizing it. We share common values and beliefs and we look out for each other without really putting a friendship tag. That there is a form of friendship. Similarly, we often keep friends that are not deserving of the title because we have known them for years or we are scared of losing them. A friend is someone you share affection with. The affection should be shared and not one-sided. The moment only one person in the relationship is putting in the effort to show affection, it is no longer friendship.
Friends can also come from several aspects of our lives. You can have friends on social media, at work, at your book club, or in your swimming class. Having friends across various spheres of life is very normal and healthy. However, having few friends is also totally fine as long as they are your friends as much as you are theirs.
Of all the friends one can have across several spheres of life, there are usually the special ones- best friends.
Who is a best friend?
Let us try to define best friends.
A best friend is similar to a friend but a lot deeper. A best friend is someone who has known you for a long time; a person who shares affection with you on a deeper level; they understand your emotions well without the need for your explanation; they give you honest opinions and not just give you compliments. A best friend is someone loyal to you and you feel comfortable telling your deepest secrets. Of course, a person cannot become your best friend overnight. Best friendship comes from years of building bonds and trust.
What makes a good friend?
There are several qualities of a good friend. It might take time to master some of these qualities depending on your personality but as you get closer to a person, being their friend becomes way easier as you share mutual understanding. The following are a few ways to be a good friend.
- Supporting each other in sad moments and being there for them when your friend feels down is a good quality of a friend. Learning how to be a supportive friend comes from a place of willingness and care. As a good friend, the right thing to do is to always help your friends feel better.
- Embracing your differences
As humans, it is not possible to like all of the same things or have the same interests and hobbies as our friends. One of the important qualities of a good friend is to be open to those interests that do not line up with yours. You can try out their interests to see if you might be interested and if you are not, you should continue to encourage each other in your different interests.
- Being a good listener
One of the qualities of a good friendship is the readiness of each party to listen to what the other has to say. As a good friend, you should listen to your friend without interruption when they are talking.
- Be a trustworthy and loyal friend
As a good friend, you should not be judgmental when you are told things you do not totally agree with and you should always keep private information confidential and that includes not sharing it with other people in your group of friends, even if they are mutual.
- Maintain respect and respectful boundaries
Part of being trustworthy and loyal is respecting boundaries and not saying or doing hurtful things to your when issues arise. The longer a friendship gets, the more issues are bound to occur. This is a part of the friendship growth and it only helps you get to know each other better. So, whenever you have issues and you are upset, be watchful of the things you say. However, after settling the issue, it is okay to be candid and work through the issue.
- Give them your time
Connecting with people takes work and time and giving time to your friends often will let them into your life easily. It might be strange initially but the more time you spend with them, the more comfortable you both start feeling.
- Reciprocal connection
An important quality of a good friendship is that no one has to be dominant. As mentioned earlier, the connection should be shared and both parties should be willing to be candid with each other, as well as, listen to each other. Also, you should both try to make each other feel better.
- Have a community
Even though having the best friends can be so amazing and make you feel special to someone, creating a community of friends by having other friends will help widen your perspective on life and give you different tastes of friendship, as well as, increase your support system.
- Quality Over Quantity
Having a large number of friends does not necessarily mean that you have healthy and fulfilling friendships. In fact, having a smaller number of close friends can be more beneficial for your mental health and overall well-being. These close friends can provide support, understanding, and companionship, which are all essential for a healthy and happy life.
- Admit Your Mistakes and Weaknesses
Realizing and admitting your mistakes when you are wrong will portray you as someone humble and susceptible to mistakes. This will also help your friends feel more comfortable around you.
Qualities of a Good Friend
Quality over quantity, we said but what are those qualities of a good friend to look out for in people and strive to give in friendships?
When you feel alone, your friends should be the ones to help you stand on your feet again and show you all the love to keep you assured that you are not. With loyal friends, failures and disappointments will not leave you wallowing in pity or feeling useless for long because they are always there to cheer you on.
Good friends respect and accept you for who you are and how you choose to live, regardless of whether they understand it or not. When you decide you are no longer that person, they stand by you to cheer you on so you don’t feel rejected or judged. They appreciate your uniqueness and help you make the world realize it.
Good friends will always be honest with you especially when they know you might end up hurting yourself or finding out outside your circle might harm you. The truth hurts but friends are there to hit you with them when needed.
Good friends care about your mental and emotional well-being. They will constantly remind you to love and embrace who you are. They help you realize and steer clear of any kind of toxic relationship. They show you how much love and care you deserve and how taking care of yourself should be your top priority. Their positivity helps you stay optimistic about life.
People are not perfect and friends should realize that. A friend is somebody patient enough to stick by you even when you are not the most tolerant person. They do this because they can see past your annoying attitude and know you are just having a bad day. However, it is important to not take this for granted.
Good friendships should give you peace of mind and an escape from the chaos in other areas of your life. You should not feel tense around a good friend, they should help you feel secure and at peace because that is what genuine love and connection feel like.
Even when responsibilities or distance put a strain on your friendship, good friends are always willing to stick around to keep the ship sailing.
A good friend will always see the best in you even when others don’t. They can see your potential and keep on cheering you on.
Types of Friendship
There isn’t a specific classification for friends but a licensed clinical social worker and empowerment coach in New Jersey, Lena Suarez-Angelino, was able to put friendships into four different groups:
- Social friends
- Intimate friends
- Epitome of friends
Acquaintances are people that you stay in contact with mostly because you share mutual gatherings like school or work and outside of that you only talk once in a while. The advantages of having acquaintances include an increase in your networking potential; the ability to hold low-expectation conversations and a reduced level of social anxiety.
Social friends are those groups of friends you cannot share so much with but because of their light-heartedness and their bubbly nature, you have fun with them at social gatherings. Social friends help you with being a part of a community, they widen your circle of friends and also help you hold easy, low-pressure dialogues at social gatherings.
Intimate friends are the ones that know a lot about you and are usually your go-to for advice. You can easily share your good news with them, as well as, rely on them when things are not so bubbly. Intimate friends have a deeper connection with you and encourage you.
The epitome of friends, according to Suarez-Angelino, are friends that you can have both fun and silly times with and still be there for each other during the darkest times. They allow you to freely be your true self. They provide stable, judgment-free support, as well as, mutual love and loyalty.
Some friends can fall into more than one of these categories while none of these categories might describe some. It’s totally fine, as long as you ensure the friendship is healthy.
Things to do with your best friend
Whether you’ve known your best friend for a long time or not, there are certain things to do with them to help you bond better and make your friendship stronger. Here are a few things you can do with your friends:
- Go on a date
- Explore your city together
- Talk about past experiences
- Have a sleepover
- Plan a trip together
- Learn a new skill together
The list and possibilities of things you can do with your best friend are endless and they solely depend on the kind of people both of you are, your schedules, and common interests.
Friendships are the best time for a relationship. They should be mutual and also last forever. It is an escape from a lot of chaos in the world if you have your own circle of people who share a bond with you and actually care deeply about you. If you can think of somebody with most of or all the qualities of a good friend, in your life then you are one of the few lucky people. Appreciate their existence and let them realize their effort and presence in the relationship means a lot to you. You can do this through your words or actions. All this are enough knowledge to know how to be a good friend.