What makes a good friend? There are tons of answers out there, most of which are totally subjective. However, the point is that this question has many answers that are all based on experiences from the person who may be answering it. For example, one person might think a good friend is totally upfront with them when there is hard news, while another person might prefer a little bit of sugar coating when it comes to difficult subjects. In this loose example, the process between what makes a good friend is different, but the theme of honesty is present for both.
An important thing to keep in mind when thinking about who we would like as our friends is that we are only capable of determining our own behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. We may often search for some of these themes or traits in others, but it is just as important to nurture such themes or traits in ourselves in order to maintain healthy and enduring friendships. Friends are typically seen as people with whom there is a mutual affection, or mutual set of interactions, that binds them together outside of family or romance. Typically, there are some areas to look at when it comes to how to discern between a good friend, and a not-so-good friend.
These areas are typically around a person’s perception of acceptance, integrity/reliability, support/care, and levels of congeniality/fun in another person. Within these themes there are then traits to look for (or improve upon in ourselves) in order to identify better friends. One of the biggest traits to look out for is trustworthiness which involves loyalty, honesty, dependability, and of course trust. Oftentimes when trust is broken, the relationship takes a toll, but with healthy levels of trust friendships have the opportunity to grow. Another important factor is empathy which encompasses being non-judgmental, supportive, and a good listener. When we listen to each other and don’t involve judgment, we feel heard and cared for which are essential to a good friendship. It is also crucial to involve congeniality in our friendships. Here we see important traits such as being humorous, kind, confident, and fun that are associated with higher levels of happiness.
Friends come and go across our lifetimes. Involving acceptance into who you are and who the other person is are paramount to leveling out expectations and being open to what is healthiest for each person. Every person has their own unique degree to which these themes and traits are present. It is up to you to take an honest look at where you and your friends may fall into such categories to determine how to best maintain the lasting friendships you seek.
-Jackson Wall, Registered Associate PCC #8154,
Registered Associate MFT #120524 is under the supervision of Curt Widhalm, LMFT #47333
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