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How to Be a Good Friend

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 24, 2021

Having friendships in your life gives you a sense of belonging, reduces stress, boosts your confidence, helps you through tough times, and makes it easier to avoid unhealthy lifestyles. Scientifically, adults with robust friend networks are less likely to have mental health issues, high blood pressure, and increased body mass indexes. Older adults who have a lot of friends are also more likely to live longer.

How, however, do you cultivate those strong friendships? Read more to find out. 

The Qualities of A Good Friend

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote extensively about what friends are, what makes good friends, and much more. He even said that between friends, there is a particular type of love. However, he essentially said that good friends have sympathy and mutual caring between each other. This can mean sharing emotions through empathy and helping a friend in need.

In practice, this can look like:

  • Feeling good. Good friends say nice things to each other. They lift each other up and give compliments. So, not only should you feel good about yourself but you should also help your friends feel good.
  • Supporting each other. In sad moments when your friend feels down or blue, a good friend thing to do is to help them feel better.
  • Love the differences. There is no possible way that your friends will have all the same interests or hobbies as you. Even if you and your friend’s interests do not line up, remain open. Try out your friend’s interests and see if you like them, too. If you don’t, understand that good friends encourage each other even in their separate interests.
  • Be a good listener. Be sure to listen and not interrupt your friend. In a healthy friendship, both parties are interested in what the other has to say.
  • Be a trustworthy friend. Good friends are not judgmental, and they keep private information confidential.
  • Maintain respect and respectful boundaries. If you are friends with someone for long enough, there are sure to be issues that arise. Perhaps you will do or say something that will upset your friend. Or maybe they have done something that upset you. Either way, close friends can candidly talk about these things and work through their issues.
  • Give them your time. Making a close connection takes work and time. By giving your friends time regularly, you let them into your life. Perhaps at first, it may feel awkward, but more and more, you both will feel more comfortable.
  • Reciprocal connection. Being a good friend doesn’t just mean listening to your friend or vice versa. Strong friendships are mutual; no one person should be dominant. Again, you should both make each feel good and lift each other up.
  • Create a community. While certain friendship connections can feel special, like having a “best friend,” it is always a great thing to have more than one friend in your life. Having a few good friends can widen your perspective on life, give you different types of friendships, and increase your support.
  • Quality over quantity. While having a community is essential, you can feel pressured to have lots of friends in this modern age of social media followers. However, resist this pressure. It is more important to have quality and close connections to fewer people than many superficial friend connections.

Let It Go When It's Time

It is important to cherish your good friends. If problems arise, let your friend know how much you care about them and want to hear them out. Then, try and work through the difficulties. This can offer you both a chance to connect and grow in your relationship. 

However, sometimes people grow apart. Good friends develop long-lasting mutual respect and understanding. They understand that occasionally certain friendships do not fit into certain phases of life. Truly appreciating your friend means that you support them even when they need space from you. Although it hurts, let them go if that’s what they need. Give them the chance to grow and expand into a fuller version of themselves.

WebMD Feature

Sources

SOURCES: 

Kidscape: “What makes a good friend?”

Mayo Clinic: “Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your heart.”

Nemours KidsHealth: “What It Means to Be a Freind.”

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “Friendship.”

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