How often do we think about what it really means to be a good friend? And how often do we make efforts to be a better friend?

Just what is a friend anyway?

It’s not something that we think about so much. It often just happens naturally.

Is a friend someone who can listen to us talk about our problems and dreams? Do we like someone because they boost our ego in some way?

Or is friendship something more than that? Can it be altruistic, selfless giving?

Let’s take a look at some principles of true friendship. By the way, the following guidelines are helpful for intimate relationships too.

The Tenets of True Friendship

1. We support and encourage each other.

  • We aim to be as positive as we can.
  • Your goals are interesting to me. I’m curious about your plans and dreams.
  • I want you to get what you want (as long as it’s something healthy and positive for you).
  • You say a few kind words to me when I’ve wandered off the path of sanity or am feeling down.
  • We help each other develop character, and overcome our challenges and self-doubt.

2. We’re not jealous of each other. When you win, I feel happy.

  • I’m excited when you get a raise or a new client. I don’t compare your situation to mine.
  • If you’re in a happy intimate relationship, I think that’s awesome. I don’t feel any negativity if I’m single.
  • I seem to have a lot of good luck. You don’t feel envious or angry with me.

3. We work on accepting each other’s quirks, choices and behaviour.

  • You do things differently than I do. I’m curious about your choices. I don’t criticize your decisions.
  • You like to make fart jokes. I can get into that. You fart at the dinner table. I meditate even deeper on fun, playfulness and accepting quirky farts…I mean, quirky behaviour.
  • I eat standing up, sometimes over the sink. Sometimes I feel nervous, so I don’t smile much. You don’t care about any of that. You still offer your valuable friendship.

4. We don’t always agree with each other, but we’re respectful when we occasionally disagree.

  • We know that agreeing on everything all the time doesn’t promote our learning and growth.
  • We offer complementary, solution-oriented perspectives that are stronger when we work together.
  • If you occasionally say something that I find distasteful, strange or rude, I accept you fully and I try to see the wisdom, truth, humor or good in your viewpoint.

5. We cultivate trust.

  • We respect each other deeply. We deepen that respect each time we meet.
  • You tell me things you know I won’t share with other people.
  • I can be vulnerable with you so that we can both develop inner strength.

6. We choose our words with care.

  • We don’t poke at wounds. We’re aware of each other’s vulnerabilities, our weak points.
  • I know how to speak to you in a way that makes you feel good about yourself.
  • You know how to tell me something in a way that makes sense (for my simple mind).

Are these tenets idealistic? Impossible to live by?

No. Not at all. Sure, they might be ideals, but we need to have something to aim for.

People are sensitive beings. Paying attention to the details in our friendships is what allows them to keep growing.

We need to keep nourishing our friendships with care, support, trust and respect. Throw in some curiosity and acceptance in there and you’re all set.

What qualities of friendship did I miss here? What’s your definition of a true friend? Leave a comment below or email me and I’ll reply to you personally.

If you enjoyed this article, share it with your friends on social media. (Share it with people you hate too. Maybe they’ll become friends later on.)

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