We meet plenty of people in our lives. Most of them drift in and out as we grow and change with time.
What we search and hope for are those who don’t drift, who keep us laughing year after year, who listen and accept us for everything we are, the good and the bad.
There are no hard and fast rules for making friends, but here are at least 10 ways to be a good one:
- Listen and Remember
Listening is important in any relationship, but it’s only half the equation. Remembering what was said shows that you care and think about your friend often.
If your friend tells you something sad, listen attentively and then follow up later. Ask if he or she is feeling better the next day. Even if your friend tells you a joke, remember it so you can refer back to it in difficult times. Let your friend know that you’re always paying attention.
- Be Honest Without Being Hurtful
While honesty is absolutely essential for a trusting relationship, approach it with your friend’s feelings in mind. There’s always a kind way to express your opinion or concern for someone’s decisions.
Be honest also with your personality. If you never show someone your true self, how do you know if that friendship is real? Friends accept each other for who they are, flaws and all.
- Make Time for Each Other
Remember how easy it was to spend time with high school friends? Distance was never a problem because you saw them every day.
Adult friendships take a little more effort. However crazy your schedule might be, save a moment for your friend. It can be a lunch meeting, a phone call or a video chat. Texting doesn’t count! For meaningful, memorable conversations, it’s best to meet face to face.
- Accept Without Conditions
People often seek a relationship because they expect something out of it. They only put in the effort if they get something in return, but true friendship comes with no strings attached.
Don’t think of what your friend can do for you. Instead, think of what you can do for them. Friendship means being selfless and giving without taking. Rewards come in the form of memories, trust and loving support.
- Communicate and Compromise
Similar to honesty, communication makes a functional relationship. Express your thoughts and feelings. Let someone know if he or she does something that bothers you. Always let someone know when they make you happy.
Disagreements will come without a doubt, so be prepared to compromise. Find a level of agreement that allows you both to be happy with the outcome.
- Understand What’s Not Being Said
Ever ask a friend how she’s doing and get a positive response that didn’t match her face? Friends see pain behind the smiles and act on it.
Recognize when your friend has a serious problem, especially when he or she refuses to talk about it. Warning signs might be mood swings, constant fatigue, changes in appetite or self-harming thoughts.
Offer to talk with her about it while keeping an open mind. Remind your friend how much you love her, and in extreme cases recommend professional care.
- Allow Vulnerability
Letting someone see parts of you that no one else sees is actually one of the most refreshing things about a good friendship. Being vulnerable with someone means you can tell them your deepest secrets, hopes, sorrows, frustrations and everything in between.
When someone opens up to you, don’t judge him or put him down for how he feels. Encourage him to reach out to you. Let him know it’s OK and that you won’t take advantage of his vulnerability.
- Support During Good Times and Bad
Friends are there in both times of crisis and celebration.
Be loyal and supportive to your friend not only when he or she is struggling with a difficult problem, but when you are also struggling. Loving someone often means putting their needs before yours.
Celebrate your friend’s accomplishments. Let her know how you genuinely care for her happiness, despite how you might feel at the time.
- Laugh as Much as Possible
Humor is what brings life to a friendship. Some of the best memories come from inside jokes or moments so hilarious that your stomach and face hurt from laughing.
Remind each other not to take life too seriously. Make time to relax, watch a funny movie, take a road trip and just be silly. It gets you through hard times.
- Grow With the Changes
We are never the same person from year to year. Our thoughts and opinions change as we grow older, learn new things and see new sights.
A true friendship remains flexible and grows with these changes, respecting the different paths you might take. It’s important to continually love and support each other through whatever happens.
No one ever said friendship was easy, but it’s worth the effort when you find that one lifelong friend you can always count on and feel completely at ease with.
Photo credits: Elizabeth Albert