Being a good friend isn’t always easy. Maintaining friendships is even more challenging. But many friends manage to keep their company through the years, despite the changes in their personal lives. That’s one example of successful friendships – friendships that have nurtured and even grown stronger through thick and thin.
Showing your friend how much you care doesn’t have to be a big and public gesture. More often than not, little acts – such as being an enthusiastic listener, spending quiet and quality time, and sending encouragement and help when needed – can go a long way towards building and strengthening a friendship.
Trust is a foundation of a good friendship, business partnership, or romantic relationship. When trust plays a central part in your friendship, all good things will follow. Well, trust us on this one!
Besides mutual trust, a good friendship is also built on learning to set and keep healthy boundaries. After all, we’re all individuals with life outside our circle of friends, too.
This article can help if you’re not quite sure about friendship, you don’t know what to do or say to your friend, or you want to figure out what makes a good friend and how to be one.
Be a good listener
Don’t hog all the conversations. Instead, take time to fully understand your friend’s situation from their point of view. It’s all right to ask questions to get the sense of what your friend is trying to say, but the main thing here is to listen to them. You don’t have all the answers or assume that your friend needs advice from you. They might just want someone to talk to so that they can work out whatever problem or issue for themselves.
Be honest (but don’t be blunt)
It might sound corny, but “honesty is the best policy.” And this is true in most situations, including friendships. Be honest from the start if you want to have people trust you. You have to be honest about your thoughts and feelings, your intentions, your friend’s actions, and how you feel regarding your friendship. You must say what you really mean. Be reliable. When you declare your promises, keep them. No one wants to be friends with someone who lies. You may not be aware of it, but lies have always their way of coming to light.
However, being honest is different from being blunt in that you’re becoming tactless, careless, or inconsiderate. That way, your actions would offend your friend. For instance, if your friend has a drinking problem, you owe it to them to begin a conversation about it. But if you think your friend sports a new hairstyle that you personally find ugly or weird, it’s better to keep your mouth shut.
Make time for your friend
Some people talk to you in their free time, while other people free their time to talk to you.
Learn the difference. Time is one of the greatest gifts that we possess. When we share our extra time to a friend, we give back that gift to them, no matter how big or small that time is. No friendship can develop overnight. Real friendships take time – a lot of time!
Keep in touch
You also have to keep in touch with your friend. Even if you don’t live next to each other, show your friend that you’re there for them by making an effort to keep in touch regularly through calling, texting, social media, or Zoom.
Encourage your friend
Everyone needs encouragement. Find good and specific ways to encourage your friend, especially when they’re in deep doubt or facing some struggles. Show your friend what you see to be special about them. Give them encouragement them when they feel sad, depressed, unsure about themselves, or think that life seems unfair to them.
Ask your friend what they need
If you are deeply concerned about your friend and want to be there for them, ask them what they need. You don’t always have to be there for them, at least physically. Calling them or sending them a message lets your friend know that you care about them. It also allows you to understand what your friend finds helpful during difficult times, and you can offer them support in a way that your friend will truly appreciate.
Respect your friend’s need for space
Being a supportive friend means accepting that your friend won’t always want to spend time with you. They also have their own lives beyond your friendship. They may want to be alone for the moment. Or they may be in a new romantic relationship with someone or making new friends with other people. So, whatever their reasons are, learn to step back and respect your friend’s need space. You don’t have to be needy or clingy. Otherwise, if you keep monitoring your friend every two seconds if they’re not around, you will start looking like an obsessive and jealous significant other, and that will be a major turnoff.
Real friendships grow because they allow each other the time to be with their families, other friends, and loved ones. You accept the fact that your friend also has other special people in their lives. But preferring to be with them doesn’t mean your friend doesn’t appreciate you. Every relationship is special and unique. Being away from each other for a while also gives both of you much-needed breathing room. It also allows you to appreciate each other even more when you meet again.
Be there for your friend in a time of crisis
If you find out that your friend is in a very tough or worrisome situation, be there to help them out during their challenging times. Provide them the emotional (and material or financial, if you can) support they need. Care about your friend to help them let their tears roll and open up about their anguish. But don’t give them false reassurances, such as “Everything is going to be all right,” especially when you know the reality when it isn’t going to be all right in just one go. However, stay upbeat and encourage your friend to think positively.
But if your friend is in a graver situation – such as talking about suicide or harming themselves or other people – tell it to someone else. It may override the “respect your friend’s space” rule because even if your friend begs you not to tell anyone, you must do it, anyway. Suggest to your friend that they seek professional help. Talk to your friend’s parents, siblings, spouses, coworkers, or relatives (unless they’re the ones causing the problems) before involving anyone else.