Do you have the personality traits of a good friend? Let’s face it: Life is no fun without good friends to share it with. If you feel as though some of your friends may be acting a bit cold toward you recently, it might be because they’re feeling a little underappreciated. Being a good friend is actually not hard, it just takes a little effort – and what you put in, you’ll usually get back in return.
A good friend keeps old friends and easily makes new ones
It happens to us all. When you’ve been friends with somebody for a long while it’s easy to take them for granted. Even though your feelings toward them haven’t changed, you just forget to remind them that they’re a special part of your life. Reminding them of that every now and again is the best way to maintain long lasting friendships. Good friendships might actually help you to live longer, and live better, according to a large relationships study of 271,053 adults. It looked at “whether valuing friendships was related to better functioning, particularly among older adults.”
When you’re trying to do maintain lasting relationships with people, often actions speak louder than words. You need to make time for people, remember their milestones and important dates, and be there for them when they’re in crisis.
The things you say to them are important but it’s the things that you do to help them that really show how important they are to you. These are some of the best ways to ensure you are a good friend and to show your friends that you appreciate them.
You “really listen” to your friends
You probably think you’re already doing it but are you really listening to your friends when they’re telling you something? When people are stressed or upset by something, they don’t want somebody to tell them how to fix their problems.
They usually just want somebody to listen to them vent. If you’re the kind of person that always tries to give them advice on how to fix things, they might feel as though you aren’t really listening. Sometimes it’s just better to take a step back and listen, and then give them advice if they ask for it. That’s what a good friend does.
You put your friends first
It’s important that you always put your friends first so they know that they can rely on you. If a friend calls you with a problem and needs somebody to talk to, but you’ve got plans to go out somewhere, you should always prioritise them and attempt to move your plans around to accommodate them.
Of course, sometimes you won’t be able to move things around if you have firm plans or a work commitment, but if you tell them that you need to do whatever it is but you’ll see them immediately afterwards, they know that you’re putting them above everything else. A good friend that says they can’t help you because they’ve got dinner plans isn’t a friend that will be around for that long.
You’ve demonstrated friendship with a grand gesture
Sometimes, you need a grand gesture to remind somebody that they mean a lot to you, especially if you haven’t seen each other that much recently. An example might be throwing them a party on their birthday with good food, friends, gifts and birthday cakes will show them that you’re still willing to go the extra mile to do something special for them. It’s also a good opportunity to get all of your friends together in one place which is increasingly difficult as you get older and have to deal with family and work commitments.
You personalise gifts and put extra thought in
Gifts don’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful. When you’re getting your friend a gift, grabbing any old thing off the shelf, even if it’s something they’ll like, doesn’t show a huge amount of effort. Instead, you should be getting them personalised gifts that serve as a reminder of your great friendship. Personalised gifts with photos of the two of you are great because every time they look at it, they’ll have memories of some of the great times you spent together.
You could also get your friend something that reminds them of a trip you took together or a milestone in your lives. Whatever it is, make sure that it’s something that is unique to the two of you. Going the extra mile to buy, or even make, a personalised gift shows them that you still care about them.
A good friend supports their goals
Everybody has dreams but believe it or not, they’re often discounted by the people around us, either consciously or unconsciously. If you tell people that you want to be a writer or a musician, people will often tell you that it’s unrealistic and you just go and get a real job, otherwise, you’ll never make any money. It’s a disheartening attitude that causes so many people to give up on the things that truly make them happy.
The only way that people can pursue their dreams is if they have people around them to encourage them and support them. Whatever your friend’s goals and dreams might be, you should always encourage them and tell them that you believe in them and you think that they can do whatever they want to do with their lives. Hearing that from a friend from time to time can be the difference between success and failure. Try to involve yourself in those goals as well; for example, if they want to be a writer, offer to read their work or if they want to be an artist, help them show their work. It’s so much easier for people to do the things that make them happy if somebody else has their back.
Don’t expect anything in return
When you do something nice for a good friend, think about why you’re doing it. If the answer is, so they’ll do you a favor in future because they owe you one now, you have the wrong idea about friendship. A friend is somebody that’s there for you, no strings attached. They’ll help you out whenever you need it because they’re your friend, they don’t have an ulterior motive.
If every time you do something for a friend you’re asking for something in return, they won’t feel like a valued friend and they’ll just assume that you’re only doing things for them for your own personal gain. When you’re completely selfless and you’re there for your friends without asking for anything in return, they’ll do the same for you when you need them.
Make time for them
When you get older and you’ve got more responsibilities at home and at work, there isn’t always that much time to hang out with friends – this is a sad fact of life. However, it’s perfectly natural and if somebody is a good friend, you don’t need to see them all the time to maintain that friendship, but the important thing is that you make time for them when you can.
Even if you only have time to meet with them once a month, or even twice a year, that’s fine as long as you’re making the effort to do that. If you aren’t and they feel as though you’re just cancelling your meeting with them because you can’t be bothered to go out that day, they’ll feel undervalued. You don’t have to do anything major, even if it’s just meeting for a coffee for half an hour, just being there shows your friend that you value them enough to make the effort. Even a phone call can go a long way to maintaining a good friendship.
Put your phone away
When you do meet up with a good friend, it’s important that you’re actually present. If this is the first time you’ve seen each other in weeks and you’re sitting there on your phone, you’re not really spending time with them.
From their point of view, being on your phone constantly means that you would rather be with somebody else instead of them. They’ll think that you only came to meet them because you felt obliged and you don’t actually enjoy spending time with them anymore. Sitting on your phone the whole time is the easiest way to make somebody feel undervalued, so turn it off and put it away while you’re with them. You can live without it for an hour or so.
Be honest with them – but sensitive too
Sometimes it’s difficult to be completely honest with your friends about everything but if you aren’t, they’ll be hurt and it makes them think that you don’t really care about them. One of the most common situations that people struggle with is their friend being with a partner that you don’t approve of. It’s difficult when they’re in a relationship that they say they’re happy with but you think that person isn’t good for them.
In those kinds of situations, people often keep their thoughts to themselves because they don’t want to get into an argument or upset their friends. If you’re right about that person, your friend will eventually realise it and they’ll be happier if you shared your thoughts early on. You shouldn’t keep pressing them about it but just let them know how you feel.
Even when a situation is difficult, you should always be honest with your friends. It might cause some tension to start with but if that friendship is strong enough, you’ll be ok in the end. However, if you lie to them, they’ll feel like they can’t trust you anymore and it’ll do more damage to your friendship in the long run. But make sure you are sensitive to their feelings and approach the discussion with tact and love.
Being a good friend is one of life’s true pleasures
We’ve all been guilty of taking our friends for granted at some point in our lives – after all, we are human and flawed; and this doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It’s just important that you remember to show your friends how much they mean to you from time to time. By being there for them when they need you, doing nice things for them, and being honest with them, you can build a friendship that will last a lifetime.