One of the most important and formative types of relationships you will experience in a lifetime is friendship. Our society tends to place an emphasis on romantic relationships. We think that just finding that right person will make us happy and fulfilled. Yet, research shows that having a friend is even more important to our psychological welfare. Friendships have a huge impact on your mental health and happiness.Having a friend is even more important to our psychological welfare. Friendships have a huge impact on your mental health and happiness. Click To Tweet
Good friends relieve stress, provide happiness, and prevent loneliness and isolation. Being a good friend isn’t always easy, but taking the time to nurture a lasting friendship is worth every ounce of it. Good friendships don’t just happen. There is a lot of truth behind the common saying, “In order to have a great friend, you must first be one.”
As you learn how to be a good friend, in turn, you’ll be teaching your friends how to become better ones. Great friendship is a two-way street where there is a healthy give and take. All true friendships are built on mutual trust and support.
So whether you’re looking to make new, quality friendships or improve your existing ones, here are 10 things you can do to be a better friend:
1. Allow yourself to be honest and vulnerable
In simple terms, be human. If you want to be a good friend and to have people trust you, then you have to be honest about your feelings, about your friends’ actions, and about how you feel about your friendship.
If you’re honest about how you feel and allow yourself to be vulnerable with your feelings, that will open up direct lines of communication with your friends and will make them more likely to open up to you.
2. Go deeper than the surface
If you want to have sustainable, long-term friendships, you must learn to connect with your friends on a deeper level. Have conversations that go beyond small talk. Engage their minds, find out what their goals are, be genuinely interested in all of their layers.We think that just finding that right person will make us happy and fulfilled. Yet, research shows that having a friend is even more important to our psychological welfare. Click To Tweet
3. Prioritize making time for each other
Friendships grow through shared experiences and quality time together. The mark of a good friend is someone who makes time for you and makes spending time with you a priority. In growing a friendship, you should actively look for opportunities to maximize the time you have together by seeking fun and unique experiences that strengthen your bond.
4. Be a loyal friend
If your friend tells you something in confidence, keep it and don’t talk about it with anyone else, just as you’d expect your friend to do for you. Don’t discuss your friend behind their back, and don’t spread rumors about the confidences they’ve shared with you.If your friend tells you something in confidence, keep it and don't talk about it with anyone else, just as you'd expect your friend to do for you. Click To Tweet
Don’t let others say bad things about your friend, either. Until you’ve had a chance to hear your friend’s side of the story, treat comments that are not supportive as hearsay and rumors.
5. Let your friendship evolve
If you want to be a good friend, then you have to understand that your friendship won’t be the same over a period of time. It will help you to think of your friendship as elastic, rather than solid. This perception helps you understand that as your lives are evolving, so will the dynamics of your friendship.
6. Be a dependable friend
Being dependable is one of the most important aspects of being a good friend. Your friends should always feel like they can count on you, even when the going gets tough. Your friend will need you for support, especially in hard times. Nobody wants to be friends with someone who isn’t interested in them.
If you’re not sure you can do something, don’t agree to do it and flake out later. Instead, be honest about the fact that you’re not sure if you can make it.
7. Be respectful
Good friends show respect for each other by being openly and mutually supportive. If your friend has certain values and beliefs that don’t align with your own, respect his or her choices and be open to hearing more about them.Good friends show respect for each other by being openly and mutually supportive. Click To Tweet
If you want your friend to trust you, then your friend should feel comfortable voicing opinions that you may not agree with, or discussing a new perspective with you.
8. Be a selfless friend
Though you may not be selfless all the time, being selfless is an important part of being a good friend. Accommodate your friend’s wishes whenever you can, provided this is done in a balanced way. Reciprocate his or her acts of kindness with kind deeds of your own, and your friendship will be strengthened.
Do a favor for your friend just out of the goodness of your heart, not because you want something in return. Also, don’t abuse your friend’s generosity. When your friend does something nice for you, reciprocate as soon as you can.
9. Be a good listener
Don’t monopolize conversations, but rather take the time to truly understand and support your friend when they are talking to you. It sounds simple, but make sure you’re listening as much as you’re talking about yourself.Don't monopolize conversations, but rather take the time to truly understand and support your friend when they are talking to you. Click To Tweet
If you’re monopolizing every conversation with your feelings, your friend isn’t getting anything out of the relationship. Listening opens space between the two of you and reassures your friend that you care.
10. Help your friends deal with their struggles
To be truly supportive, you’ll have to be able to watch out for your friends when they’re having a tough time. If you sense that your friend is getting into some sort of trouble over which they have little control, help them get away from the situation by not being afraid to speak up about it.
Don’t assume that your friend can handle it alone; This may be the very time that your voice of reason is needed to help them get through their situation. As much as it’s okay to talk your friends through their problems, you should also help them find practical solutions and actively follow up on them.
Finally, remember that while having a community is essential, you can feel pressured to have lots of friends in this modern age of social media followers.
However, resist this pressure. It is more important to have quality and close connections to fewer people than many superficial connections. Care to share more ways one can be a better friend? Let’s hear them in the comment section.
You can also read “Making the Right Friends: 4 Tips to Apply Today“.
Written by Olufolake Onasanya