Thanks to social media, we’ve got more “friends” than ever before, but how can you tell a truly meaningful friendship from one that isn’t worth the time of day?
Much in the same way you know when a partner is right for you, some of it comes down to your gut feeling, but it’s always worth checking for the following signs to help you identify the friendships in your life that are most worth hanging onto.
1. You Can Be Your Real Self Around Them
A true friend will be totally accepting of who you are – the good, the bad and the ugly. Because of this, you feel totally comfortable around them and can let every little aspect of your personality out.
Whether it’s the way you do a little dance when you’re happy or the impulsive nature of your drunken self, you don’t feel the need to hold back when you’re in their company.
2. You Can Sit In Silence Without Awkwardness
Following on from the ability to be yourself, another good sign of a deep friendship is your ability to share a moment or period of silence together. When a friendship is more superficial, silence is often deafening and tense, which makes it something to avoid.
I always think a good test of friendship is living together (or perhaps going on holiday together). When you spend enough time in each other’s company, there are bound to be bouts of silence and how you feel during these is an indicator of how close you are.
3. You Are Genuinely Happy For Each Other When Good Things Happen
When you see someone who has what you want, the instinctive feeling is one of envy; this holds true for most superficial friendships.
When that person is a true friend, however, you are deeply happy for them and you don’t begrudge their fortune. If they find love, you want to meet the new person in their life; if they have success in their career, you want to hear all the details; and if they buy a nice house, you can’t wait to go and visit them in it.
If you find yourself wishing you were in their shoes, or believing that they get all the luck, then they probably aren’t one of your closest friends.
4. The Conversation Goes Beyond Small Talk And “Catching Up”
In certain company, you will feel obliged to keep the conversations light and avoid discussions that may hit personal barriers or shine a light on differences of opinions.
When you’re around a genuine friend, however, you can talk about almost anything you like. You don’t just meet up to discuss what you’ve both been up to or what you think of the latest TV show; the topic of conversation goes a lot deeper than that.
You can talk about the bigger things in life; your dreams, your fears, religion, politics, the meaning of existence. Debates are not uncommon, and they can even get a little heated, but your conversations are most certainly not drab.
5. You Can Rant About Something And Know That They Will Listen
Because you can talk about absolutely anything, you know that, when something is bothering you, your friend will listen to you rant about it.
And when I say listen, I don’t just mean smile and nod in the hope that the subject will eventually change, I mean actively take in everything you are saying so that once you have finished speaking, they are able to respond in a way that shows understanding and care.
6. You Trust Them Enough To Tell Them Anything
When it comes to true friendship, you won’t feel the need to hold back on your true feelings and you will feel able to confide in them about anything.
You will trust them not to go around behind your back blabbing about the personal and private things you told them in confidence. You know that they will keep the important things secret and you trust yourself enough to be able to do the same for them.
7. They Are Honest, But In The Most Loving Way Possible
Sticking with the theme of communication; true friends can be totally honest with each other when they feel it is in the best interests of the other person.
A friend that’s worth having is one that will tell you when the dress you try on in a shop does not suit you, when you’ve upset someone else (or even themselves), or when you’re doing something that you may later come to regret.
They do so, however, in a way that is loving; they try to protect your feelings as much as possible and they avoid coming across as overly critical of your choices.
8. They Confront You If You Are Self Sabotaging
Because a real friendship is one in which you can communicate on the deepest of levels and one that embodies trust in the fullest sense, a friend will always seek to prevent you from causing yourself harm.
They are the ones who know you well enough to notice when you’re not acting yourself. They see when you’re drinking too much, not eating enough, taking reckless risks with your safety and wellbeing, jeopardizing your career, or doing something else that you’ll later regret.
As hard as it might be for them to confront you about such things, a real friend would find it even harder to sit back and watch you capitulate.
9. They Will Encourage Rather Than Disparage You For Trying New Things
Your hobbies, tastes, and opinions are bound to change over time and your friends will, no doubt, have something to say about it.
Those who question you for trying new things; the people who laugh at the very prospect; they are not truly your friends.
A real friend will be supportive of you and your growth as a person. Whether you are learning to salsa, volunteering for a charity in your spare time, or exploring your spiritual side, they will wholeheartedly encourage you to go for it.
And should you change your mind later on in time, they won’t be the ones saying ‘I told you so’, they will be the ones who congratulate you for giving it your best shot.
10. They Will Forgive You For (Almost) Anything
If you do wrong by a genuine friend, they will do everything they can to forgive you for it. They will try to understand the reasons you acted as you did, they will talk to you about it, and they will try and help you resolve any troubles you may be facing.
That’s not to say that they will let you get away with absolutely anything. It is possible to destroy friendships with a single act, no matter how true and deep they are.
They may well forgive you for what you have done even if they decide that it is best to part ways.
11. They Will Offer You Help Without Expecting A Thing In Return
A good friend will extend their hand and offer you help whenever you need it. Sometimes they won’t even need to be asked; they will just instinctively step up and give you their time and energy.
What’s more, when they do this, true friends don’t expect you to repay the favor. They don’t keep a mental tally of who’s done what for who to ensure it evens itself out; they just want to lend a helping hand wherever they can.
So, ask yourself whether you’d go out of your way to help a friend. If you wouldn’t, you probably aren’t as close as you think.
12. They Will Have Your Back
If they hear people slagging you off behind your back, a real friend won’t just idly stand by and let them get away with it; they will defend you.
This loyalty may present itself in genuine upset or anger, or it might simply show in the words of affection they use to try and convince others of your good qualities.
Either way, they will find it difficult to sit back and listen to bad things being said about you. They will stand in your corner even when you’re not around to witness it.
13. You Are Genuinely Excited To See Them
Have you ever arranged to meet up with a so-called friend, but secretly hoped that they would cancel? If so, it’s likely that you don’t really count them as one of your close friends.
When you plan to see a real friend, on the other hand, you get mentally and physically excited by the prospect. And if they have to cancel for any reason, you feel bitterly disappointed by it.
14. You Don’t Feel Guilty About Turning Down An Invitation From Them
As strange as it may sound, if you’re feeling a sense of guilt when you don’t want to go to a friend’s event, you may not be as close as you think.
Chances are that you’ll be worried how they may take your rejection and what they’ll think of you because of it. You suspect that they may begrudge you or find some sort of insult in it and this is what will cause the guilty feelings. It may even push you into doing things that you’d rather not do – hardly a trait of friendship.
Conversely, when a true friend invites you to something and you feel the need to decline, there is always a sense that they will understand unconditionally. You know, deep down, that they won’t hold it against you or feel any differently about you or your friendship.
15. You Feel Comfortable Enough To Ask Them A Favor
Relating closely back to the point on someone’s willingness to help, if you would be happy to ask someone for a favor, there’s every chance you consider that person a close friend.
This is because you are confident that they will do whatever they can to assist you and because should they not be able to help, you won’t take it as a rejection. If you ask a more casual acquaintance for a favor and they say no, you may well be left wondering what their reasons are.
The Conscious Rethink: genuine friendships are worth holding onto tightly because they do not come along very often. They take time to establish, but the effort you put into building one is repaid a hundredfold. Real friends bring you joy and allow you to live comfortably in your own skin without needing to suppress any of your true nature. What more could you ask of someone?