Eight Characteristics of a True Friend
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).
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.
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?
Questions & Answers
I'm pretty sure I have fake friends and I want to leave them, but I don't know what to do. I have a guy friend who I don't speak with in person. What should I do?
My advice is to not waste your time with people who you only know on a casual basis. True friends are those you visit and do things within real life and in person. That guy friend you mentioned sounds like an acquaintance and not a friend, otherwise you'd be communicating in person.
If you're not motivated to reach out to someone other than a virtual relationship, give some thought to the reason why. You probably already know that person is not of value to you as a trusted friend.
© 2012 Glenn Stok