Glenn Stok studies topics on self-awareness and emotional well-being and writes about it to help others with mindfulness and self-doubt.
Do you spend time with people who you consider to be your friends but you always feel a lack of something? Maybe your interests and abilities are 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 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 the kind of people you have been letting into your life. Are they indeed offering any value to you?
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 happened to those friends who had the same vision as you about the world. The friends you remember that you were able to talk with about fascinating and exciting topics.
What happened to those people? Maybe they were friends you had in college, but you didn't stay in touch. Perhaps they were acquaintances you had in 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. Real 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 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 you'll like them. Those are not real friends. They are only 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?
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. 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. 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 we get older, we begin to realize what a genuine friend is and how they affect us. We need to reflect on the positive attitudes of those who are genuinely good friends.
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, even though it was not in your best interest? Come on now. You know the truth.
Have you ever asked a friend for advice, and the answer was what they figured you wanted to hear? I don’t consider that helpful when I'm looking for constructive criticism. These people are not interested in your success.
Sometimes we don’t want to hear what is the best thing for us, but a real friend would be willing to guide you in the right direction with truthful constructive criticism.
If we're going to be successful with any particular endeavor in life, then we need that kind of reliable guidance. It's sometimes thought of as 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
People with destructive tendencies usually never look for methods of improvement. When they seek advice, they are just looking for someone to confirm their behavior.
When a friend asks us for help, it's frustrating when they don't listen. We 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 hearing your response as criticism. They refuse to accept the valuable options that you are trying to give them.
On the other hand, 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 a joy to help them. They genuinely wish to hear what you have to say, 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 see that they can trust my commitments. When I say something is going to happen—it does. Once I commit to doing 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 in return.
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 a Good Friend Can Be Life-Changing
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. Their input can change the course of your life. Those who are influential are good to keep around.
It works both ways. Some of my greatest achievements came from ideas envisioned by helping others.
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.
To sum up,
We are all in this life together. Our success or failure is mostly 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.”
Questions & Answers
Question: I have friends who call me only when they need me. Are they true friends?
Answer: They probably are not true friends, but it would be helpful to look at it the other way around. So ask yourself these questions:
How do you behave? Do you do the same thing? Or do you call them just to stay in touch and to make plans for social engagements? And when you do, what is their response? Do they have excuses for being too busy, or are they interested in pursuing a friendship relationship?
What about your own reaction? Did it ever happen that they did try to reach out to you for purely social reasons, and you were too busy?
When you answer these questions, you’ll have a better feel for the truth. It takes some honest reflection and self-awareness, and it’s worth the exercise.
I’ve experienced both extremes in my life. I had a couple of friends who I determined were toxic to be with, and I decided to let them go. However, I was also able to look inward and realize that I wasn’t paying attention to another friend's needs when it was required. It’s a two-way street, so to say. I hope I’ve helped enlighten you to the big picture.
Question: I'm sure I have fake friends and I want to leave them. I also have a guy friend whom I don't speak with in person. What should I do?
Answer: My advice, don’t waste time with people who you only know on a casual basis. True friends are those you visit and do things with 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
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on June 06, 2017:
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.
Laura (Moskowitz) Robichek on May 25, 2017:
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 (author) from Long Island, NY on January 21, 2013:
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.
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on January 21, 2013:
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!
Susan Holland from Southwest Missouri on January 21, 2013:
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 (author) from Long Island, NY on September 12, 2012:
Thanks, Nell, for stopping by. Isn't it the truth? -- that a beneficial friend is that who tells us the truth.
Nell Rose from England on September 12, 2012:
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
Loren Edlin on September 05, 2012:
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 from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on September 05, 2012:
"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.