Social media creates the illusion that people can have hundreds of friends.
You might know many people, but good friends don’t come in large quantities.
In fact, most people consider themselves lucky to have one good friend.
Not everyone possesses the qualities of a good friend.
You can get caught up in the excitement of making a new friend before you know if that person has the traits to become a true friend.
When you can recognize best friend qualities in someone, you gain an opportunity to create a lifelong friendship that matters deeply to both of you.
- What Qualities Make a Good Friend?
- 31 Traits of a Good Friend
- 1. Let’s You Be Yourself
- 2. Can Keep a Secret
- 3. Shows Empathy
- 4. Is Loyal to You
- 5. Is Protective
- 6. Isn’t Afraid to Be Honest
- 7. Respects Your Boundaries
- 8. Is Generous in Spirit and Deed
- 9. Is Helpful (Even When You Don’t Ask)
- 10. Anticipates Your Needs
- 11. Shows Excitement When You Arrive
- 12. Is Trustworthy
- 13. Calls Out Your Bad Habits
- 14. Can Be Easily Forgiving
- 15. Has Time for You
- 16. Celebrates Your Successes
- 17. Knows When You’re About to Snap
- 18. Has Deep Conversations With You
- 19. Can Sit with Companionable Silences
- 20. Won’t Let You Lie to Yourself
- 21. Listens and Hears You
- 22. Wants to Make You Laugh
- 23. Isn’t Fake for You
- 24. Not Quick to Judge
- 25. Dependable in a Crisis
- 26. Shows Reciprocity
- 27. Inspires You to Be Better
- 28. Will Commiserate When You Need It
- 29. Isn’t Embarrassed to Say, “I Love You”
- 30. Knows Your History
- 31. Doesn’t Abandon You When You’re Down
- Be the Friend You Want to Have
What Qualities Make a Good Friend?
Perhaps the global definition of a good friend is someone who says “Yes” when you ask for help moving furniture. Unless you move often, you’ll need another way to evaluate friendships.
Friends are either people who socialize with you casually or select individuals who have ongoing and meaningful contact with you, especially one-on-one.
Casual friendships include people who:
- Invite you to their gatherings
- Come to your social events
- Meet you after school or work
- Play in your athletic club
Relationships with good friends go deeper. Interactions with a close friend don’t rely on social events or simply crossing paths in the same social circles. You become drawn to a good friend because that person:
- Genuinely wants to hear about your problems
- Shares your outlook on the world
- Is willing and happy to do favors for you
- Responds to your messages quickly
- Doesn’t need a reason to suggest getting together
- Knows you’re eager to listen
- Wants to include you specifically
- Has proven trustworthy
31 Traits of a Good Friend
Finding someone whose personality represents a good match for you is the first step. As your friendship develops, you’ll find out how many qualities of a good friend that the person displays. Someone who shows many of the following traits deserves your appreciation and commitment as a friend to them.
1. Let’s You Be Yourself
Various social pressures and fear of judgment or rejection prompt people to mask their true selves. With a good friend, you can let your guard down. You can be your authentic self, which generates feelings of both relief and validation. Your friend not only accepts you but LIKES the real you.
2. Can Keep a Secret
Sometimes you need to talk about a sensitive topic because you need to vent or want advice. You don’t have to worry about a good friend being the source of gossip. Confidentiality is a valuable gift that can help you feel like you’re not alone.
3. Shows Empathy
A good friend feels your emotions alongside you. Your friend takes on the burdens that you feel and helps to carry the load. Among the characteristics of a friend, this one makes the most difference when you’re under stress.
The person can give you a shoulder to cry on because they are already crying inside for you. Happily, empathy is not about just the bad stuff. An empathetic friend delights in your triumphs as well.
4. Is Loyal to You
When a friend does not impose unreasonable conditions on the friendship, you see loyalty in action. Such a friend sees himself or herself as on your side. A loyal friend looks out for your best interests and will warn you about issues that could harm you.
5. Is Protective
Protectiveness and loyalty go hand-in-hand. Someone who defends you against nasty gossip ensures that you don’t drive after drinking. They discourage you from dating someone with bad traits and genuinely want to steer you away from adverse outcomes.
6. Isn’t Afraid to Be Honest
White lies to spare your feelings aren’t what you’ll get from a good friend. A real friend may put things diplomatically but will still tell you like it is.
It’s hard to make sound decisions when you’re working with bad information, and an honest friend will try to give you accurate information, which can be priceless.
7. Respects Your Boundaries
Even if you and your good friend share much of your lives, there are times when you need your space. If you don’t want to talk about something right now, a good friend understands that you’ll speak when and if you wish.
No matter the boundary you set, you won’t need to defend yourself with a good friend because that person respects your wishes.
8. Is Generous in Spirit and Deed
Whether it’s a cup of sugar or a ticket to a concert, a dedicated friend shares resources whenever possible. They are generous in many ways. A person can be gracious with time, car rides, babysitting, business leads, and a helping hand.
9. Is Helpful (Even When You Don’t Ask)
Having fun together may be the primary goal of friendships, but helping each other is a close second. Every helpful action cements the friendship a little more.
Help can come from physical support, like holding the ladder for you, and emotional support, like how a friend helps you see that things will get better.
10. Anticipates Your Needs
A good friend thinks about what you need. As soon as your friend hears that you broke your ankle and will be on crutches, he or she makes a plan to help.
The friend might drop off a casserole for dinner, offer to drive you to work, or take out your garbage because you need to stay off your feet.
11. Shows Excitement When You Arrive
When you arrive at the party, your best friend will make a big deal out of it. This display of excitement proves that the friend places a high value on your presence.
Outside of social situations, a good friend will always be glad to see you at the door for any reason.
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12. Is Trustworthy
Trustworthiness encompasses more things than being able to keep a secret. You know that the person won’t take advantage of your generosity or soft heart.
You can give a good friend the key to your house when you’re on vacation without worrying about theft or bringing over strangers.
13. Calls Out Your Bad Habits
Although a good friend accepts the real you, this does not mean you get a free pass on everything. Your friend won’t want to see you suffer because of something that you could correct.
If you’re bad with money, cheating on your diet, or skipping the gym, you can expect a best friend to call BS on your excuses. Your friend will also remind you of the benefits of dropping destructive behaviors.
14. Can Be Easily Forgiving
Besties can have disputes, but both of you will probably get over it. The hurt fades, and apologies are accepted. Except in the most egregious situations, good friends find it easy to forgive.
15. Has Time for You
Modern life is so busy that everyone seems lacking in time. But time constraints don’t keep a good friend away. You are a priority in their lives, and they are in yours.
They make time to talk, go for a hike, or whatever you need at the moment. A committed friend won’t back-burner or sideline you with excuses.
16. Celebrates Your Successes
Your good friend knows how hard you had to work to achieve a goal. Even if you want to be modest about it, a true friend insists on marking the occasion somehow. Why? Because your friend is honestly excited about your good fortune.
17. Knows When You’re About to Snap
When recognizing your needs, a best friend can see when you’re at the end of your rope. The person tries to relieve the pressure on you and let you know that it’s time to lean on someone.
And you don’t feel embarrassed or uncomfortable accepting help from this person because you know they care about you.
18. Has Deep Conversations With You
Casual friends talk about their daily lives, what they’re binge-watching or a new pair of pants. When you explore more profound subjects like spirituality, environmentalism, or (gasp) politics, then you’re doing that with a good friend or someone who soon may become one.
19. Can Sit with Companionable Silences
You can spend time together without having to fill every moment with conversation. You can cry wordlessly together during a sad movie or enjoy the sights on a road trip in blissful silence.
20. Won’t Let You Lie to Yourself
Everyone can lie to themselves from time to time. Whether you do it all of the time or suddenly do it about something important, a true friend will question your view of reality.
Your friend shines this mirror for you in the hopes of gently guiding you toward better decisions.
21. Listens and Hears You
Active and empathic listening is much more than just waiting for an appropriate time to speak. A best friend actively works on understanding what you’re saying.
He or she listens to understand and validate so that you feel they know you and get you.
22. Wants to Make You Laugh
Someone doesn’t have to be a brilliant comedian, but a good friend wants to enjoy the lighter side of life with you.
Your friend may share funny memes, crack jokes when stupid stuff happens, or help keep funny memories alive.
23. Isn’t Fake for You
Just as you don’t have to wear a social mask around your friend, you get an authentic experience from that person.
The friend feels fine being seen in sweatpants or expressing honest opinions because you’re both comfortable enough to skip the fake posturing that defines many interactions.
24. Not Quick to Judge
A good friend knows that you had good reasons for doing what you did and respects your judgment.
If what you did was wrong, that same person will speak with you kindly about it and want to help you do better next time.
25. Dependable in a Crisis
It’s pretty easy to be a good friend when things are going right. Fairweather friends are plentiful.
But you find out who your real friends are when things go wrong. If you lose your job and can’t go on fancy outings anymore, a good friend finds other ways to hang out.
26. Shows Reciprocity
Reciprocity means that you return favors. This action is essentially the foundation of good friendships. You trade emotional, physical, and spiritual support back and forth as both of you need it.
Some acquaintances only contact you when they need something but are absent when you need help or support.
27. Inspires You to Be Better
Taken together, the qualities of a good friend can motivate you to do more. As you experience true friendship, your self-esteem may grow.
You may start to believe that you can pursue a goal once thought unattainable.
28. Will Commiserate When You Need It
Sometimes you just need to kvetch about someone or something that happened in your life. Maybe your boyfriend acted like a jerk, or your boss reprimanded you in front of others.
A true friend not only listens to your pain but dives in there with you. You can trust they won’t hate your boyfriend forever or publicly badmouth your boss, but with you, they can say, “Yeah, that was really sucky.”
29. Isn’t Embarrassed to Say, “I Love You”
Close friends do share a loving bond that is different from a romantic or familial connection. You chose this person, and they chose you because of a mutually recognized simpatico.
A close friend doesn’t hesitate to express their love for you because it’s an easy and natural expression of your connection.
30. Knows Your History
A good friend is familiar with the ups and downs of your life. They know your childhood stories, past romances, and even shameful experiences.
They know these things because you feel safe telling them, and they feel safe revealing their lives to you. Neither of you judges or gossips. You treat this information with dignity and care.
31. Doesn’t Abandon You When You’re Down
A good friend sticks by your side, even when others reject you or you’ve done something that could negatively reflect on the friend. They know the real you and would never leave you because you don’t fit in a mold or your social circle’s definition of acceptable.
Be the Friend You Want to Have
For the most part, the traits of a good friend are easy to recognize. You may have already made a good friend by unconsciously appreciating the benefits of these positive traits.
However, when you become more mindful of them, you can stop investing time in people who lack the qualities necessary to evolve into something beyond acquaintances.
Recognizing the characteristics that make true friendship possible helps you forge long-term and mutually beneficial friendships. You can improve yourself as well by cultivating these positive traits.
Once you do that, you increase the chance of connecting with someone special who’ll treasure the opportunity to share good and bad times with you.