Do you find it hard to be friends with someone?
Do you have to search through your whole contact list, just to find a single person whom you can call your friend?
Well, good friends are hard to find. But, Maybe you are missing something while trying to be friends with someone. So, how to be a good friend?
Well, just as the saying goes,
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
So, I’ll share with you some of my most favorite ways through which you can win over friends and be a good one yourself. Because friendships are a vital part of our lives. Friends are the family that we chose, so better to have and be an all-weather friend than a fair-weather one. But, before we go on to how to be a good friend, first we’ll be talking about the importance of good friends and what a true friend really is?
Importance of Good Friends
Good friends are like a breath of fresh air. They calm you and lower your stress levels. Good friends help you celebrate good times and provide relief and support during bad times. There’s numerous research carried over years to highlight the importance of good friends not only for your mental health but also emotional health.
According to research published by the University of Florida, friendships are so important for school-age children that a lack of them can cause developmental problems later in life. Friends play a crucial role in developing the social skills of a child. He learns how to communicate, cooperate and behave in social settings. He learns how to think and react to others. Above all, a child develops a sense of attachment and love towards people through friendships. Also, children having good friends at school are more positive about going to school and show a better learning attitude. All in all, friendships are vital for school-age children to help them grow emotionally and mentally. So, parents should facilitate and help their children develop healthy and loving friendships by being good role models themselves first.
The importance of good friends cannot be undermined for youth as well. Research suggests that youth with disabilities who would otherwise have a difficult time in transitioning to college, transitioned easily through the support of personal connections and friendships.
It goes without saying that friends are an essential part of every human being’s life. Without them, one could experience several emotional and mental challenges. In fact, the importance of friendship can be gauged from the fact that it can increase your life expectancy and lower your risk of cardiac diseases. But in order to have good friends you need to be one. So, let me tell you how without further ado!
What a True Friend Really Is? | 9 Ways to be a Good Friend
A good friend is someone you would share your joys and sorrows with. They respect you, are trustworthy, supportive, and real. There’s no toxicity or fakeness around when you are with them. It is a bond of mutual dependence and concern. With a good friend by your side, you are just being you!! But, how to be one? Let’s get to know!
1- Be Real
First things first, if you want to be a good friend, you have to be real with them. If you pretend to be someone you are not then it’s not friendship. Rather it is just a matter of putting up appearances. However, a true friend is never fake. They never hide who they really are. Also, they never try to change who their friends are like.
So, to make a bond of lasting friendship you should be real with your friends. If you have a conservative approach to life and your friends are liberal then you shouldn’t portray otherwise. Because sooner or later, your actions will speak about it. Now, being real also means being authentic in your gestures. If you don’t feel like complimenting your friend because you know the dress they are wearing isn’t flattering at all. Then you shouldn’t compliment either. Instead, a good approach would be to let them know what suits their curves the most but some other time.
The point here is to be your most genuine and authentic self. You have to be fully aware of who you are and what you stand for. But, you also need to understand the fact that everyone you meet will not share the same values and opinions as you. So, you have to be open about your friends’ perspectives too but at the same time hold your ground.
All in all, you should know that everyone you meet would have something different. That’s what makes people unique. So, embrace the uniqueness of yours’ and your friends’. Don’t try to change yourself or your friends. Accept who you really are and then see how your friendships would thrive.
‘It’s better to be real then to be perfect.’
2- Be Open
Oftentimes, the idea of going with the flow tempts us to not speak up about our feelings and thoughts. However, quite often opening up about whatever you are experiencing and sharing it with your loved ones can be the only way to ease your mind.
Now, there can be several reasons for someone being reluctant of opening up. Introverts have a hard time letting their guard down. Similarly, if someone is not used to sharing their feelings since childhood, they won’t do it even when they grow up. Maybe they didn’t have someone to talk to. Maybe they tried but, were instantly bashed for being too open. People who don’t open up are generally excessively relying on themselves. They tend to feel as if no one would understand them even if they share their feelings. So, if you can relate to this then you need to let go of that habit.
Being reticent won’t help you develop lasting friendships. Rather, you would just have a few fair-weather friends or maybe not that even. Let go of your restrained self. Open up about your feelings. Let the world know what you think and dream of. Let your friends know your vulnerabilities and insecurities. Only when you share your highs and lows with your friends would you be able to develop unbreakable bonds.
For me, friendship in one word would be ‘openness’. So, open up and then see how you would meet different people. Some who might share the same worldview as yours. While others who can bring in a different perspective to thoughts. But, the last thing you would want to be is being restrained and formal even with your friends.
Related; 10 Tips to Confront your Past
3- Be Supportive
You might have wondered, ‘what makes a true friend?’ Well, my definition of a true friend would be someone who’s there for you through thick and thin. Someone who has seen all your mess and is still there to uplift you. A true friend is not someone who enjoys friendships while all is good but rather is an all-weather friend like I said earlier.
So, that brings us to this point of being supportive. Being supportive doesn’t only mean being there for them in the time of crises. Rather, it also suggests being supportive of your friends’ thoughts and aspirations. Encouraging them for being the best version of themselves. Motivating them to prepare for the entrance exam no matter how dumb they think of themselves. This applies to prospective relationships as well.
You have to develop a sense of selflessness to be a good friend. Tell them what’s best for them. Go out of your way to help and offer support. However, striking a balance is always a key to any relationship, whether friendship, familial or romantic. There’s a difference between being selfless and being a doormat. So, make sure you don’t fall in the other category while being selfless.
Another aspect of being supportive can be helping your friends deal with their struggles. Give them emotional support. Give them a shoulder to cry on if they recently had a breakup. Watch out for them. Never assume that your friend might deal with the problem all alone no matter how much they put up a strong front. You need to step in and discuss with them anything that you feel would not be better for them in the longer run. After all, sometimes all a person needs is a little reassurance, support, and care!
Listen to what your friend has to say, not just for the sake of listening. But, for the sake of understanding. This might seem simple, but trust me, sometimes when you find a person sharing the same views as yours’, talking seems much tempting. Also, you might not do it intentionally. Rather, it becomes an unintentional habit.
So, let me tell you how to listen to the other person and be a good friend yourself?
a) Firstly, you have to give them your undivided attention. Switch your smartphone or maybe turn on the silent mode for a while.
b) Secondly, show that you are listening with your facial and verbal cues. Node your head from time to time. Use your or eyes to show interest. Use verbal cues like ‘uh-huh,’ interesting, etc. to encourage them to finish whatever is on their mind!
c) Thirdly, provide feedback. Now, feedback doesn’t mean giving your opinion. Rather what it means here is reflecting on what your friend said to stop judgments from distorting what you heard. Say something like, ‘What you meant was this….’ Or ‘Is that what you mean?’
d) Never interrupt! I seriously hate being interrupted and I assume everyone would do as well. So, while listening, make sure to stop inner critic from saying something, no matter how strong the urge is. Because interruption frustrates the speaker. Moreover, you never know what they are going to say next and your confusion might be cleared by it. So, wait patiently for them to finish the talk.
e) Lastly, respond appropriately. Even if you disagree you have to do so respectfully. Encourage openness and let others share what they think without the fear of judgment.
Related; 5 effective ways to be non-judgmental in practice
5- Have a genuine interest in their life
Good friends have a genuine interest in their friends’ life. The care and affection they show are not for the sake of any ulterior motive. Rather, it comes from the heart.
Though it may sound simple, it is easier said than done.
Sometimes, all a person cares about is their life, their wants, and their needs. In such circumstances, understanding the other person’s point of view becomes secondary let alone caring for them.
However, you should have a genuine interest in your friends’ life if you want to be recalled as a good friend. So, firstly, look out for them if they need a helping hand. Some people often don’t like asking for help, it’s better to read their facial expressions and understand what they are really going through.
Spend quality time with your friends. Don’t just be there in times of fun. Rather, spend a good amount of time with them. Understand who they really are. What their views about life are? What do they strive for? Digging in deep will help you develop the strongest bond of friendship ever. Because people can generally share their good moments with everyone. But, it takes a special person to let them open up about their darkest secrets and deepest vulnerabilities.
All in all, show genuine interest in the life of your friends. Care for them. Watch out for them. Be there for them in times of crisis, not for something in return. But, only out of affection and care. People aren’t commodities, so you better not treat them like that. Or, else all your friendship, no matter how long you’ve known each other for, would just be shallow and empty.
Related; Top 9 Signs to Tell if Someone Cares About You!
6- Stay in touch
Time and distance often drift people apart. As you transform into different roles, you tend to spend less time with your friends. There would be times when you will only meet them once in a while. Days passing without hearing from them. However, good friends stay in touch no matter how long the distance or how short the time is.
Make time for your friends if you want to be a good friend. Text them occasionally. Be connected through Skype calls or make good use of What’s App video calls. Always keep them updated and be concerned about their life as well. Speak up if you miss them. Let them know that you were thinking about them. In today’s busy world setting aside 5-10 minutes for someone also seems impossible. But, trust me, once you start spending that time with your long-lost friends you’ll start feeling happier and a bit relaxed. Because no matter what you shared a bond of love and laughter in the past and you might have the same connection still.
So, carve out some time for your friends. Don’t let the harshness of life get in the way of your friendship. Make it a habit to stay connected and let your friendship grow and thrive.
7- Be respectful
Respect is a fundamental aspect of human connections. It literally means showing esteem for something or someone. Giving them respect, not because of their status or relation with you. But, because of being human. In friendships, it is even more important. Because sometimes due to our level of comfort and bonding, we tend to crack jokes or make fun of them or their opinions. This, however, needs to stop if you seriously want to be a good friend.
One of the signs of a true friend is that they listen to your opinions and thoughts but without being judgmental. Even if you disagree with their views, do so in a respectful manner. Instead of being sarcastic or cracking jokes, put your point across respectfully. Because, just as you don’t want your friends to make fun of your views, similarly they do not want to be a subject of mockery.
This also applies to a change in their roles as well. If your friend used to spend all of their time with you previously. But, since being in a relationship they can’t, be accepting of it. Don’t mock them by using derogatory language. Neither. Make fun of them in front of your other single friends. Instead, cherish the time still manage to spend with you. At the same time encourage them to strengthen their relationship with their partner as well.
In a nutshell, relationships generally and friendships particularly are all based on respect. If respect isn’t there then you can never be a good friend. Let them be themselves because that’s what makes them unique. Your responsibility is to show them respect no matter how wild their opinions seem to you. Also, never judge. Never reveal their secrets or discuss and never gossip!
8- Be trustworthy
Trust is vital for any relationship to thrive. Be it trust in your family. Or, trust in your friends for not spilling the beans in front of any stranger or even gossiping behind your back. Trust is a vital part of friendship. Without it, your friendship will only be superficial and formal. In the absence of it, you would never be able to share your insecurities with them. You would never share your problems with your friends because you know that it would spread like a fire in the bush. Thus, if you want to be a good friend you need to be trustworthy.
A pat of being trustworthy is by keeping your promises. Never make a promise you cannot keep. Or, at least inform them earlier about your compulsions so that they don’t keep relying on you. Even if you have a promise, make sure that it isn’t more than twice. Because nobody’s perfect and so it’s okay if you have a genuine reason for not keeping up your promise. But, if you do it out of a habit, then don’t expect anything from your friends either.
Also, be dependable sometimes. Because what good is a friend if you cannot count on them in hours of need. More importantly, don’t agree to something you cannot do either. Instead, be honest and admit what you can handle and what you can’t, rather than flaking out later and making up excuses.
Lastly, apologize for things you think have hurt them. If you made a promise, but couldn’t keep up with it don’t go into denial. Look them in the eyes and make them understand your reasons. Be trustworthy and you’ll surely come under the list of good friends.
9- Celebrate their achievements
Friends are supposed to be there for each other through good and bad times. True friends make your tough times a bit bearable. While at the same time they celebrate your achievements and successes.
Celebrating each other’s successes makes you realize that your friends are your well-wisher. They wish to see you grow and achieve whatever you wish for. Further, celebrating each other makes you know that they are not in competition with you.
Contrarily, a fake friend is low-key jealous of your achievements. People often ask me ‘How can you tell a fake friend?’ Well, watch out for who those claps for you on your achievements and those who try to make you think that it’s not a big deal. Once you recognize those friends who wish you growth and happiness, you’ll be better able to distinguish the fake ones.
Going back to the point, celebrating each other improves your outlook towards life. Celebrations get you out of the daily grind of your monotonous routine. You get excited and it makes you look forward to life as well. When you are happy for each other’s growth, your bond strengthens and it makes a recipe for a lasting friendship.
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Friendships take time and effort. There’s no quick fix or one secret ingredient that would guarantee you a lasting friendship. However, if you practice the aforementioned tips and make sincere efforts then you’ll surely be a good friend. In return, you would develop healthy and unbreakable bonds that would last a lifetime. Who knows there might be someone around looking for a good friend and you just might end up being one!