Eight Characteristics of a True Friend

Updated on March 2, 2018
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok writes about personal growth and emotional well-being that he learned from his studies of social behavior and from experience.

Do you spend time with people who you consider to be your friends but you always feel a lack of something? Maybe you're feeling that they are on a different wavelength. Or maybe your interests and capabilities are totally different than theirs.

Nevertheless, you spend time with them anyway. After all, they are good people and you care for them. In addition, you think that they care for you too.

However, the reality is that you are too much more intelligent than they are. Somehow you befriended them anyway.

The fact of the matter is that you have many more meaningful interests. You understand things much better than they do. When you try to explain anything to them about something important, you find the effort totally in vain.

Maybe it's time to give some thought to your life. Think about the people you have been letting into your life. Are they actually offering value to you, or are you just throwing time away getting together all the time?

Here are eight characteristics that you should pay attention to when considering the qualities of good friends.

1. Friends Worthy of a Lifetime Friendship

What about those few friends who you once had that really mattered? The friends who had the same vision as you had about the world. The friends you remember that you were able to talk with about extremely interesting and fulfilling topics.

What happened to those people? Maybe they were friends you had in college, but you didn't stay in touch. Maybe they were acquaintances you had in a prior employment, and you let them go when you moved on.

You may not have developed those acquaintances into friendships, but they are the ones that would have made a difference in your life.

Try to find them and make a connection again. Life is short. It's never too late. They may feel the same as you.

2. True Friends Will Always Steer You Right

I learned many important things from friends who steered me in the right direction with difficult decisions in the past. I didn't always have all the answers, and good friends were always there to teach me something new that helped improve some aspect of my life.

You can tell when you have a true friend who wants to be helpful. Some friends just tell you what you want to hear so they'll be liked. Those are not true friends. They are just thinking of themselves and don't care about your success. They are more afraid that they will lose you as a friend for telling you something that you don't want to hear. Is that what you want?

Do your friends positively influence you? (Answer yes if at least one).

See results

3. Good Friends Will Always Lift Your Spirits

As we get older we make more mature and carefully considered decisions. Sometimes we even need to reconsider friendships that we come to realize are not genuine.

I've moved on from friends who had destructive tendencies. We're not getting any younger. Why stay friends with those who are going in the wrong direction? We want positive influence. Right?

If you find yourself struggling to be happy when you’re with a friend who has negative energy, ask yourself why you feel the need to spend time with that person. You may realize that they are holding you back.

Life's too short to spend it with people who don’t inspire you. You’ll feel better when you have relationships with people who lift your spirits and give you reasons to be your best.

4. True Friendships Are Worth Nurturing

Sometimes we don’t always give any thought to how others are treating us. Some people have toxic behaviors. It might be best to move on from these people.

However, we need to reflect on the positive attitudes of those who are genuinely good friends. Are they toxic people to have around, or are they just functioning on a different level and really mean well?

Good friendships are worth nurturing. As time goes by, and we get older, we begin to realize what a genuine friend is and how they affect us.

Think twice when you are disappointed in someone. Consider the good qualities he or she has and compare that to what you really want in a friendship relationship. Nobody's perfect.

5. A Helpful Friend Will Give Constructive Criticism

Do you find yourself seeking friends who always side with you, despite the fact that it was not in your best interest? Come on now. You know the truth.

I have noticed that some people who I know seek friends who are not interested in their success. They couldn’t care less. All they care about is being liked. That's not necessarily a helpful friend.

Have you ever asked a friend for advice and the answer was what they figured you wanted to hear? I really don’t consider that helpful when I'm looking for constructive criticism.

A real friend would be willing to take chances with upsetting you as long as it meant guiding you in the right direction.

Sometimes we don’t want to hear what is the best thing for us, but true friends will guide their friends in a positive way by providing truthful constructive criticism.

If we want to be successful with any particular endeavor in life, then we need that kind of strong guidance. I call that Tough Love!

A true friend will give you constructive criticism rather than just tell you what you want to hear.

Good friends will give advice that might be considered "tough love."
Good friends will give advice that might be considered "tough love." | Source

6. True Friends Respect Advice

Most people who seek advice from friends really want to improve their lives. They just want to know the answers that will guide them with whatever it is that they are having a problem with.

People with destructive tendencies usually never look for methods of improvement. When they seek advice they are really just looking for someone to confirm their behavior.

When we are asked to offer helpful advice, it's frustrating when they don't listen. Some people are simply not worth fighting for, so we also need to know when to back away from trying to help—even if they ask.

If they are the kind of person who just wants confirmation for doing things the wrong way, they end up taking your response as criticism. They refuse to recognize the valuable options that are being presented to them.

Some people are aware of their flaws and want to find solutions. They want to listen and they want to learn. They want to be successful, and it's joy to help them. They truly want help and they make good use of it.

7. A True Friend Will Appreciate Your Values

It’s best to know in your heart what you want in life; how you want your future to turn out; how you want to treat people; and how you want to be treated. Conduct your affairs with these thoughts in mind.

For example, I like to let people know that they can trust that when I say something is going to happen—it does. Once I make a commitment to do something, or to meet someone somewhere, I don’t let anything get in the way. I only make promises when I know I can keep them, and I expect to be treated that same way.

Some people think I’m too rigid when they want me to change plans, and I don't. I have no problem changing plans as long as it doesn't affect someone else with whom I made a commitment.

However, if those changes negatively affect other people, I feel I’m doing the right thing keeping my promise. Those are my values. I find it amazing that some "friends" don't appreciate that.

8. The Influence of Good Friends Can Be Life-Changing

I have found that I learn a thing or two when a friend comes to me for advice and I think of a solution for them. Some of my greatest achievements came from ideas envisioned by helping others. It works both ways. Those who are influential in someone's life are good to keep around.

If you are fortunate enough to have a few friends who are not afraid to be honest with you, then consider them worthy of a lifetime friendship.

If you feel comfortable giving valued constructive criticism, then you will be helping your friends too. Those who appreciate where you're coming from will value your friendship.

We are all in this life together and our success or failure is largely related to our interactions with the people in our lives. Choose your friends wisely and value the influential ones. As the saying goes, “It’s all about who you know.”

Who had the most positive influence on your life?

See results

© 2012 Glenn Stok


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    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Hi Laura, it's good hearing from you. Hope your book is selling well and that you are doing well too. I sold the domain for my company since I retired. I have a new domain listing my articles: www.GlennStok.com . I'll try emailing to your old email if that is still active so we can communicate. This is only for comments.

    • profile image

      Laura (Moskowitz) Robichek 

      2 years ago

      Hi Glenn,

      It's Laura from the old LI walking group! I will always remember you for how wonderful you were in helping me get my book (www.WhyDoesntSheJustLeave.us) published!

      I looked you up because I attended a sustainability event here in California, where I'm living, and was surprised to see that stok.com is now the domain of a company. (Hope you got paid for it!) So, I looked you up and came upon this very well written article, and a great picture of you. You look terrific!

      I'm living here with my husband Mark, who, thank goodness, is a wonderful person and excellent companion.

      Hope all is well with you (looks like it is!). Say hi to whoever used to know me who you still know.


    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Thanks Linda. I appreciate your comment. I can't sit by idly when I see a friend doing something that is destroying their life. I can't do anything about it when they choose not to listen. But at least I make them aware of what they are doing, and the rest is up to them.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 

      5 years ago from Central Virginia

      After your delightful visit to my hub on the Estate Sale, I had to visit your profile. This hub called to me immediately and I had to read it first. Friendship is so important to me and I have been blessed in my life to have several friendships that are rich in honesty and loyalty. They are real treasures and have often been the catalyst for my making a decision different from my original plan. The test of real friendship comes in those difficult times when a friend has the courage to be honest, even when it hurts. If the relationship is not damaged as a result, it is surely worth keeping. I loved this hub Glenn. It reminded me of all the reasons I have invested in my good friends and let some others fall by the wayside. You're a great writer!

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      PaoloJpm - Well said. True friends are definitely hard to find. They develop over time. And, sometimes, those who we think are friends turn out to have their own agenda. So when you have a special friend, nurture the relationship. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • PaoloJpm profile image

      John Paolo B.Magdaluyo 

      6 years ago from Philippine

      Great hub you have here! Friends are specials, and, in this world, they are limited. You just can't buy one in store, specially those who are true, not to us but to themselves and of course to us then.

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      vespawoolf - I can't say it any better than you just did. I consider those friends who are willing to correct me to be really true friends. The others just don't care. My friends know that I like to be alerted if they feel I am doing something that needs improvement. Like you said, we need to be open-minded to listen to the advice.

      When it's the other way around, I discovered that I need to ask people if they want help before I try to give advice. It's unfortunate that many times they are looking for a "yes" person, as Susan (sholland10) just explained in her comment prior to yours.

      Thanks for stopping by, I'm glad you enjoyed this hub.

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Sholland10 - thanks, Sue, for your comments. Unfortunately my friend I used as an example in this hub did not take my advice. But that seems to be a common thing that I think I figured out. And I wrote about it in another hub entitled Why People Don't Listen to Advice, which goes into more detail on that issue.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      Vespa Woolf 

      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      I agree that true friends have a lot to do with our success in life. And true friends are willing to correct us when we're heading toward a wrong path, even if it hurts us to hear it. But we also have to be open-minded enough to listen to a friend who has our best interests at heart. Although I've experienced toxic relationships, I'm happy to count with some true friends such as these. I really enjoyed this Hub. Thanks!

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 

      6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Glenn, it is so true that some people only say what we want to hear. I would much rather hear the truth to save me from a bad choice or decision.

      We should choose friends who are willing to go through thick and thin with us. It is not always easy to say something that might come across as harsh or unpleasant, but a true friend will figure out a way to help rather than be a "yes" person.

      I hope your friend took your advice and not the ones who "sided" with her without thinking of the consequences.

      Friendships are rare. We have many acquaintances, but only a few friends we can depend on and who can depend on us.

      A great hub with a great message.

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      7 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Thanks, Nell, for stopping by. Isn't it the truth? -- that a beneficial friend is that who tells us the truth.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Yes I totally agree with you about the real friend telling you the truth and not what you want to hear, my best friend was amazing, and insulting! lol! how many dresses did I throw back in the cupboard because she kindly informed me that I looked like a bag of spuds! seriously great points, nell

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      7 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I wish to thank everyone who read this hub for your wonderful comments. Each of you have said meaningful and insightful things and I appreciate your thoughtfulness. I actually tried a different writing style with this hub, which I have recently been studying -- and "CrisSp" had noticed, thank you for that comment. Also thank you everyone for all the up votes. I'm glad you all appreciated what I had to say here.

    • avallee profile image


      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Very good hub. Very good points of view that can be used to examine self and identify positive vs. negative friends.

    • Rosalinem profile image


      7 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Very true, great hub. Some friends are even better than siblings and can stick with someone through difficulties and pain and be so good to celebrate with one's fortunes.

    • profile image

      Loren Edlin 

      7 years ago

      Glenn, it is a great article you wrote. I must say there is much more to being a true friend. It is good to listen to each other and help out if needed but you need to have respect for each other equally. There are no one way streets in any relationship. Listening to each other and sharing each other's stories is good too. I have experienced people complaining about how bad their problems are when they don't know how others live too. I feel it is important to be unselfish in a relationship and hear each other out before judging. There are many ways to know how true you are to your friends. My vote is up to your article.

    • CrisSp profile image


      7 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      "Some friends just tell you what you want to hear so that they'll be liked. Those are not true friends." -- this is so agreeable.

      Nice article. I like the simplicity of the writing style, which is easy to read and comprehend. Voted up and sharing.


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