Some people may say that the older you get, the harder it is to keep and maintain friendships. Whatever your past or present experiences with friends have been like, nobody can dismiss the fact that friendship is, and always has been, a two way street. Whether you long for some new friends or you have a hard time figuring out why a certain friendship you had high hopes for fizzled out, there are a few traits are worth cultivating to help us all be better friends and to also be mindful of ‘good friendship’ traits in others.
Before I talk about the things that good friends do, I want to share some words of wisdom with you all. As you get older, things change and people change. You are justified in your decision to review your friendships and you will outgrow a few. There’s nothing wrong with this and it certainly isn’t something that you should feel guilty about. A wise man once said ‘people are in our lives either for a reason, a season or a lifetime’. For every failed friendship we have had, we are able to learn things about ourselves and our character traits.
Everyone deserves the best from their friendships and there are some qualities that you just shouldn’t negotiate on:
A good friend wants to see you do well – You would be amazed at how many people can’t stand to see their friends succeed in life. Life is a process: we change, we learn and we grow. If you have a 10 year friendship for example, you won’t be in the same position that you were when the friendship first began. Naturally, you’ll evolve, and a friend that can’t accept this isn’t one you should have in your life. As tempted as you may be to develop a ‘I’ll show them’ attitude, this kind of dynamic will drain the life out of you. If you have any ‘Negative Nellie’s’ in your life, let them go!
A good friend will support you – Good friends should speak life into anything that you are trying to achieve. I’m not saying that your friend should be a life coach, but what I am saying is while you are doing everything in your power to achieve a certain goal (whether personal or professional), your friends should be in your corner rooting for you every step of the way. Even if consistent support isn’t offered, taking the time to check in on any progress made once in a while lets them know that you care, and this is really important. There’s nothing worse than going through a major shift or transformation in your life and not having the people you love and care about rooting for you.
A good friend will show up at all times – According to a survey by YouGov, a quarter of millennials claimed that they have NO friends. The loneliness epidemic appears to have hit millennial’s hard. Social isolation is a serious issue and it is harming the quality of our friendships. In an age where social media and the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime appear to be taking over the world, spending all our free days and nights indoors has never been more appealing. We can’t let the latest phenomenons get in the way of our friendships. It really isn’t worth it. A good friend will always be consistent. They will show up for you and they won’t make any excuses. It takes a whole heap of effort to keep a friendship going but just like romantic relationships, both people have got to put the work in.
I’ve got to put some emphasis on ALL times because a lot of people know exactly who their friends are when they are feeling down, for example, but the minute things start to improve, those same friends are nowhere to be found. When it comes to determining the quality of your friendships, pay attention to the vibes you get because they will never fail you. A person who you may think is a friend may just see you as an acquaintance. Stay woke and start matching the energy you get!. If you are the friend that’s actively making an effort to arrange catch up’s but you get no response, all you can do is keep it moving and accept that you tried your best to reach out.
A good friend will be honest – Honesty is the best policy and this definitely applies to friendships. An honest friend is fearless and truthful. It may be hard to hear what they have to say at first but believe that they have your best interests at heart. It’s also important to remember that everyone is different so the delivery may not always be the same. Different friends serve different purposes: you may have a friend who is always able to keep it 100 when it comes to personal dilemmas but may not know what to say if you have a work issue, for example. As your friendships progress, you’ll know who you can turn to for what, or you may even be blessed enough to have a close friend that you can talk about anything with.
A good friend is loyal – In previous posts, I’ve spoken about the importance of having boundaries. Boundaries set the tone for your relationships and they will determine how you are treated. One thing I know about myself is that I expect loyalty because that’s what I give. A few years ago, a former friend of mine did something that was very disloyal, and although she apologised profusely, I had to walk away from the friendship. We all have our thresholds and I’m not saying that you need to create a list of boundaries and hand it to every friend you make, but you owe it to yourself to be vocal. If a friend does something that doesn’t sit well with you, tell them! If they are accountable for their actions, they’ll be more than happy to talk things through, and if your relationship is meant to be, your friendship will be even better than it was before.
A good friend isn’t judgemental – As humans, we can’t help but judge. For example, when you read the paper in the morning, one or two stories in there will definitely have you thinking ‘What the hell…?’. I’m sure you can think of many more examples but being judgemental is something we can all try to stop doing. Imagine if a friend has told you about something they’ve done that they aren’t particularly proud of, you’ve got to take off the ‘critic’ hat and give them the support they need. After all, nobody is perfect and we’ve all messed up at some point in our lives. If you are a ‘judgemental’ friend, think about why you may feel the need to judge others: maybe you were judged in your childhood or maybe you are very critical of yourself? Once you’ve addressed certain traits, you’ll be able to work on them so that you can be a better friend.
A good friend cheers you up – Now, talking is one of the most effective ways to cheer someone up, and a good friend will notice that something may be bothering you before anyone else does. A friend doesn’t let you suffer in silence. We are all different, so perhaps, you won’t offer words of wisdom. Alternatively, you may offer to take your friend to the cinema or take her to one of her appointments. Before I got the job I have now (I work as a Projects Coordinator), I went to so many interviews and the whole process was getting me down and I’d spent almost a month harbouring these feelings. One day, I just picked up the phone and called a friend, and within seconds I burst into tears. There was something so liberating about the whole thing. I knew I needed a friend to cry to and lift my spirits. We all need this kind of friend in our lives. If a friend finds joy in your misery, then you need to consider throwing the whole friendship away. Friends lift you up, they don’t tear you down.
A good friend doesn’t talk about you behind your back – The number of friendships that have ended due to bitching never fails to surprise me. I went to a girls only secondary school and I can remember friendships being struck by the ‘bitching bug’ like thunder. It’s crazy how most of us thought bitching in friendships would take a hike as we got older. Boy were we wrong! If anything, it’s gotten much worse. Talking about a friend behind their back is one of the highest forms of disrespect. You may be kind enough to give your friend another chance once they’ve been exposed, but the likelihood of the bitching or backstabbing continuing is as certain as Britain leaving the EU in a few weeks. Distance is a necessity because you are under no obligation to keep a fake friend in your life! Anyone who displays what is a seriously immature trait isn’t worthy or your time, space and energy.
A good friend keeps in touch – One of the biggest friendship issues as far as millennials are concerned has got to be one sided friendships. Personally, I have taken a huge stance on the matter. Like relationships, friendships need to be mutually fulfilling. You deserve to feel appreciated and respected in all of your friendships, and that’s a non negotiable. In life, things happen and naturally, you may go weeks, months or even years without hearing from a friend but believe there is a difference between a friend you can always reconnect with instantly and a friend who just doesn’t give a s*** about you. Discernment is essential as it will help you figure out where you stand. If you’re always arranging meetups, if you’re always calling/texting first. Do not pay any mind to this social media age. Keeping up with your friends Instagram stories doesn’t qualify as presence. We all need to do our bit to encourage social interactions among our circle of friends because human interactions are needed now more than ever. Life is way too short to distance yourself from the people you care about.
A good friend is great company – Think about your friendships – are you happy spending time with your circle of friends? If you’re not, then you have some thinking to do for sure. When it comes to friendships, a lot of people don’t realise just how important balance is. Do not embark on a mission to make sure each and every single friend you make and have ever made is just like you. You’re setting yourself up for a fall. Appreciate the fact that your friends will be different to you. I’ll use myself as an example: I’m a mix between ‘the responsible one’ and ‘the one who likes to have fun’. I have friends who are all about the fun and I love this because it reminds me that it’s OK for me to let myself go from time to time. Aim to compliment your friends the same way they should compliment you.
Friendship is something most of us will struggle with as we get older. There’s a million and one reasons why friendships fail to cultivate, but each and every friendship that has either stayed or departed from our lives has taught us something about ourselves that we needed to know. As we approach the last few months of the year, let’s put as much effort into finding good friends and being a good friend as we would with choosing a new job or meeting a potential partner. Remember, friendships should enrich your life, not drain it! xo
“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” – Shakespeare
Thanks for reading this post. I know that this one has been a long one, so if you’ve stayed with me, then thank you so much! As always, I love to hear from you all, so feel free to leave a comment or an answer to the questions below.
What qualities do your friends have that you admire? When it comes to friendship deal breakers, what won’t you stand for?