What Makes a Good Friend?
What Makes a Good Friend?
Since my primary school days, I’ve had many friends. Some of them I lost touch with as we changed and grew apart; others I held onto through the tough times and the good. Sometimes, though, I find myself asking: am I a good friend to others? Could I be better? And are my friends good to me?
Everyone has different friendship dynamics. For example, I have some friends that I know I can joke around and be silly with, and they won’t be worried about it or think I’m strange. I have other friends that I know I can turn to if I need to tell them something important, or if I need their help in a crisis. Some are a mix of both. Depending on your personality, and the personality of your friends, the way you act and feel may vary.
However, there are a few great qualities in friendship that everyone should aim for. Not that we’ll get it right all the time: we won’t. Sometimes, we may take a joke too far. Or we might accidentally hurt each other. We can’t be perfect all the time. But by thinking about these things, we can understand how we can be there for our friends: and we can figure out if they are good friends to us in return.
‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind’ – Jennifer Dukes Lee
You may have read this quote before. I think kindness is underrated – and we need it now more than ever. A good friend is kind. I might joke around with my friends, even tease them (in a gentle way!), but at the end of the day, we are very kind to each other. Kindness can come in many different forms, but it comes down to being thoughtful and sincere. A hug when your friend is feeling sad, a listening ear if they need to vent, a reminder of their strengths and talents when they’re feeling insecure – all of these small, everyday things make up a great friendship.
As we mentioned earlier, nobody is perfect all the time. You’re probably going to annoy your friends sometimes, and they’ll probably annoy you in return. You might have the odd falling out, or the occasional row – that doesn’t mean your friendship isn’t valid (although you do need to watch out for toxic friendships – click here to read more about that). Sometimes people make mistakes – it’s important to learn to forgive each other, to accept an apology and move on with a clean slate.
Have you ever had a friend betray a secret? I have – and I can tell you, it hurts very badly. There’s something incredibly painful about being let down by someone you thought you could trust. If a friend tells you something in confidence, where appropriate, you should keep it to yourself. Having said that, it is important to realise when confidence needs to be broken for safety reasons. For example, if your friend tells you a secret and the secret makes you uncomfortable or worried, or you think someone might be in danger, you should talk to an adult you trust, like a parent or a teacher.
Trust is a foundational part of a healthy relationship. Without trust, the friendship will not last. Be the kind of friend a person can trust (and expect that of them in return).
It’s not always a good idea to say the first thing that pops into your brain, and it’s important that we learn to be kind and tactful with our words. However, it is important to be honest with your friends.
Which would you rather have – a friend who would tell you if you had spinach stuck in your teeth, or a friend who would let you walk around like that all day? A true friend is honest with you – even if it’s not always easy.
Your friends may occasionally do something that completely mystifies you. You might question their decisions, their taste, even their outfit choices. You might wonder how on earth they can enjoy the music they listen to, or why they spend all their spare time playing games, or reading, or sleeping, or something else that you don’t enjoy as much as them. Life would be boring if we were all the same, right? It’s fun to have friends that like different things than you – it’s a great way to keep life interesting. Appreciate your friends for who they are, without pressuring them to change to fit in with you – and again, you should expect that in return from your friends, too.
Be a Good Communicator
Effective communication is one of the key foundations to all relationships. Being able to talk to each other and clearly say what you want and don’t want is a key factor in a good friendship, as is the ability to listen to each other. Clear communication can make a huge difference to your friendships, and it’s such an important skill to learn.
So, to sum up: kindness, forgiveness, trust, honesty, respect, and communication are some of the key things that are important in a friendship. Are there any other characteristics of a good friend that you can think of? Let us know by leaving us a comment.
Revealed Projects works with young people across North Somerset and surrounding areas, focusing on a variety of topics in self-esteem and healthy relationships. To find out more about our services, click here.