It's not always easy to be a good friend, but taking the time and reinforcing an old friendship is worth all the effort. Cultivating lasting friendships is a life-enriching experience, as such relationships give us strength, happiness, and meaning in ways that social media and popularity cannot. All true friendships are built on mutual trust and support. So whether you want to make new friends or improve existing relationships, there are some things you can do to be a good friend.
Part 1 of 4: Being Trustworthy
Step 1. Keep your promises
Never promise anything you can't keep - or at least don't make a habit of it. If you agree to go out with a friend and an unforeseen event arises, explain the situation and trust his reaction and the strength of the friendship. If you can't go, apologize and be honest. Nobody is perfect and it's okay to miss one appointment or another, as long as it's not often. If the problem persists, you may not be seen as a person of word and commitment, which will damage your friendships.
When making a serious promise, look the person in the eye to make it clear that you are telling the truth. Don't break what was promised, as this will hurt the other and may even end your friendship
Step 2. Be Trusted
This is one of the most important aspects of being a good friend, as you will need to support those who matter, especially in the toughest times. No one likes a fake person, and it's hard to depend on someone who doesn't behave consistently and reliably. We all know well meaning people who promise things but never deliver. If you have identified with this, be aware that you run the risk of eroding your friends' trust, as they will no longer believe what you say.
- If you don't know if you can do something, don't say you can. Instead, be honest right away.
- Others must feel they can count on you, even in the worst of times. If you only show up for fun times, you'll hardly be considered a real friend.
Step 3. Apologize for the mistakes you made
If you want to gain the trust of others, you shouldn't act like you're perfect. If you know you've made a mistake, take responsibility and don't go into denial. As much as no one likes it, your friends will be happy with your maturity of admitting the problem rather than pretending there is nothing wrong or worse - blaming someone else.
When apologizing, be honest. Your friends should notice the sincerity in your voice; otherwise, they'll think you don't care about their feelings
Step 4. Be honest
If you want to be a good and trustworthy friend, you have to be honest about how you feel about friendship. If you are honest, others will certainly be able to open up to you. If you hurt someone, talk about it; if you've been hurt, don't be afraid to bring it up.
- Being honest is not the same as being clueless to the point of hurting your friends with a few "truths." For example, if you believe someone has a drinking problem, it's important to talk about it. If, on the other hand, you think the dress didn't sit well with a friend, it's best to keep quiet.
- Be authentic. Form bonds with people who are compatible with your values for long-term, sustainable friendships. Invest in those you can be yourself with.
Step 5. Don't use others
If one of your friends suspects that he is being used, he will leave the relationship. A real friendship doesn't develop if you just want the other person's popularity or connections. If you want friendship just to be accepted in a social group, know that this is not friendship, but opportunism. At one time or another, this will become clear to everyone.
- If you have a reputation for using people, your new acquaintances will certainly not want to become your friends.
- Friendship is about giving and receiving. It can be convenient to get a ride from a friend every day, but it's important that you give something back to the relationship.
Step 6. Be loyal.
If a friend tells you a secret, keep it and don't tell anyone, just as you expect others to do for you. Don't discuss his life behind his back and don't spread rumors about the things that have been entrusted to you. Never say anything you wouldn't be prepared to say to his face. Be loyal and be ready to always defend your friends.
- An important part of loyalty is recognizing the importance of a stable friendship. Don't throw it all away to spend time with a friend you've just met.
- If you have a reputation as a gossip, soon everyone will know it and will not have the courage to share personal information with you in the future. Trust me, in time, they won't even want to spend time with you.
- Don't let them say bad things about your friend. Until you hear his side of the story, treat all comments as rumors and gossip. If you hear something shocking that doesn't feel real, respond by saying, "I know him and it doesn't feel right. I'm going to find out his side of the story, and in the meantime, I'd like you not to spread that story."
Step 7. Be respectful
Good friends show respect and support each other. If he has values that don't align with your own, respect them and be willing to hear more about the issue. If you want him to trust you, he must be comfortable speaking his mind, even if he disagrees. If he thinks he's going to disagree right away and won't listen, he won't value your friendship.
- Even if he says something annoying or irritating, respect him and let him speak without judgment.
- Even when you don't agree with something, respectfully disagree and accept his opinion.
Part 2 of 4: Including your friends
Step 1. Don't let your friend feel left out
This is very important for friendship. The fact that you have entered into a relationship or have changed schools or jobs does not mean that you have a free pass to exclude anyone. Always remember who will be there at the most difficult times: your real friends. Don't give them up.
Part 3 of 4: Showing support
Step 1. Be selfless
As impossible as this is all the time, it is an important part of friendship. Accommodate your friends' wishes whenever you can, as long as this is done in a balanced way. Give back the generous deeds and you will strengthen your relationship. By earning a reputation for being selfish and only being there when they need help, people will know that friendship isn't real.
- Do yourself a favor just for the act, not wanting something in return.
- There is a difference between being altruistic at the right time and being someone else's doormat. If you feel like you're helping your friends and you don't get anything in return, maybe there's a problem.
- Don't abuse generosity or push the envelope. When a friend does something nice for you, give it back quickly. Return the money you borrowed as soon as you can, for example.
Step 2. Be a good listener
Don't dominate conversations and take time to understand and support your friend when they're talking. It sounds simple, but it's important that you listen as much as you talk. By monopolizing the chats, the other will feel that they are not valued. Listening opens up space between you and makes you both feel welcomed.
- If you wait for your friend to stop talking just to say what you want, it will be pretty obvious.
- Try to find a balance in which the two of you talk for equal times. Some people are more shy, but it's important that your friend feels they can express themselves in your presence.
Step 3. Help your friends deal with their problems
To show your support, you need to keep an eye on the other person's difficulties. If you feel that he is going through a bad period that he can't get out of on his own, help him out by discussing the issue.
- Don't assume your friend can handle the problem on his own. Use your voice to wake you up from the bad situation: when you see a problem, speak up, no matter how uncomfortable it is.
- Let your friend know that he or she may cry on your shoulder. If he feels less alone, he will find it easier to deal with his own problems.
- If he just wants to talk about the problem, that's fine. Still, it's important to help you find practical solutions in the future.
- For example, if he admits that he has an eating disorder and promises that he will start eating better, you need to talk about other, more serious measures to deal with the problem, such as talking to a doctor.
Step 4. Be present during a crisis
If your friend goes to the hospital, visit him. If his pet runs away, help him find him. If he needs a ride, help. Take notes during class when he is absent and send letters if you live far away. If anyone in his family dies, attend the funeral. It's important that he can count on you at all times.
- Obviously, it's important that your friend isn't always going through a crisis. You should support him in difficult times, but the relationship shouldn't revolve around that.
- It's important to provide emotional support when I need it. Take care of your friend and help him to open up to you. Give him a handkerchief and hear him cry. You don't need to say anything if you don't know what to say; just keep calm and comfort him.
- Don't say "Everything will be fine" if it's not true. It's hard not to say this, but false reassurance can turn out to be worse. Instead, make it clear you're around and maintain positivity.
- If your friend starts talking about committing suicide, let someone know. Even if he asks you not to tell anyone, you should. Suggest that he contact a helpline (such as CVV) or a mental health professional. Talk to his parents or spouse (unless these people are causing the problem) before turning to others.
Step 5. Give good advice.
To be a good friend, you need to be able to coolly analyze situations to give opinions, but without saying what the other should do or say. Avoid judgments, but help when your opinion is required.
- Don't give advice out of thin air. Let your friend vent and be willing to offer advice as long as he seems to need it. Ask before giving advice.
- In some cases, an ear tug is necessary to keep a person out of a dangerous situation. Be careful not to lecture or hurt your friend: explain your point of view with facts and suggest what you would do in the same situation.
Step 6. Make room when needed
To support another person, you need to know that your presence will not always be necessary. Learn to get away when you need to: Your friend may want to spend time alone or with others. There's no need to be too needy, or you'll look like a possessive person and that's never welcomed.
- Don't be jealous if your friend has a lot of friends. Every relationship is special and different, and that doesn't mean he doesn't give you the value you deserve.
- Allowing you to go out with other people gives you both a certain freedom, further increasing the enjoyment of your dates.
Part 4 of 4: Making Friendship Last
Step 1. Learn to forgive and move on
When you hold grudges and build up resentments with your friend, you won't be able to get on with your life. It's important to recognize that no one is perfect, and if your friend apologized sincerely or didn't do anything too horrible, you should forgive them.
- If your friend has done something unforgivable, it's better to move on rather than trying to save a doomed friendship. Obviously, this is only true for rare cases.
- If you are nervous but have never discussed the issue with your friend, it will be impossible to forgive what happened.
Step 2. Accept the person for who they are
For friendships to flourish, you shouldn't try to change the other or get him to take your point of view. If you're a conservative and have a liberal friend, accept that instead of discussing the issue all the time. Appreciate the perspective the other person can bring to you rather than trying to convince them they're wrong.
The more time you spend together, the less you will idealize and the more you will accept reality. That's what a real friendship needs: to care about each other, even if they're full of flaws
Step 3. Go beyond the basics
A friend will wait for you to do your homework. A great friend will stay all night studying with you. Remember that relationships are reciprocal: Recognize the times when you need to go beyond the basics to blossom a friendship, and your friend is sure to do the same for you.
If he needs help, but keep saying things like "No, you don't need to do this…", read between the lines and help with whatever you can
Step 4. Keep in touch
As the years go by, it's normal for people to pull away, physically or not. Maybe it's only possible to meet once in a while. If you still care about him, speak up and keep the friendship alive. You were friends for a reason and it's possible to keep the relationship going.
- Location should not dictate the strength of the bond between you. If friendship is meaningful, it must continue to grow, regardless of distance.
- Try to talk on the phone or Skype at least once a month, even if you are in completely different time zones. If contact becomes routine, the relationship will continue to grow.
Step 5. Let the friendship evolve
It is important to understand that your relationship will not always be the same. As much as you spend your days together as a teenager, you will likely study at different colleges, get distant jobs, and start serious love relationships. It's natural for the contact to decrease, but that doesn't mean the friendship isn't stronger; it's just that your lives evolve and take on other forms.
- Don't try to keep the friendship the same as it was ten years ago. Think of the relationship as ever-changing.
- If your friend is in a serious relationship and you are not, respect him. As much as he cares about you, he probably won't be as available as he was in the past.
- Appreciate the changes you have gone through over the years. Learn to grow along with the relationship.
- Accept your friend's decisions. You may not completely agree with them, but making it clear that you support them is enough.
- Don't try to be like your friend, after all, differences are what make relationships good. Enjoy your differences and be proud of them! Obviously, don't purposely try to be different, as this can also end the friendship.
- Honest communication is the foundation of all true friendship. If they can't talk openly to each other, the relationship is likely doomed to failure.
- There is no need to spend a lot of money or spend a lot of time when giving a gift. The best gifts are usually homemade and come from the heart.
- A friend who is only available during class or office hours is still a friend. Be grateful for the friendship you've received, even if it's limited to a single environment.
- Don't worry so much about losing your friend, but value the time you had together and what you still have.
- Always try to help, even when there's not much you can do. This is important for your friendship.
- If your friend doesn't want to forgive something, tell the truth behind your motives. If you made a mistake, admit it.
- If your friend has other friendships that you don't like, don't be rude to them. Eventually it will come back to you.
- Always try to be inclusive. Don't leave a friend alone.
- When spending time with your friend, it's important that you don't stay on your cell phone. It's disconcerting to talk and be interrupted by a phone constantly. Maybe he feels you're not paying attention or that you don't value his time.
- Don't share something if you know the person is untrustworthy, as they could use it against you someday.
- Don't be jealous if your friend makes new friends. Have faith in the relationship, but if you're being ignored by new friends, talk about the situation. It's not fair to be abandoned for nothing.
- No one likes to be insulted, so be careful when teasing a friend. If he asks you to stop, listen and don't tease him anymore.
- Don't talk about things that might make your friend uncomfortable.For example, if a relative of his has just died, don't talk about something random involving death. Obviously, it's important to try to talk about how your friend is feeling and find out if he's up to discussing the situation.
- If you're not treated well, there's no reason to keep the friendship. Don't be friends with a person who doesn't deserve it.
- If you believe your friend's other friendships aren't good for him, talk about it. It's important to open up and help him avoid mistakes.