There’s a quote I love… ‘good friends are like stars – you can’t always see them, but you know they’re always there.’
And it’s true. I feel very lucky to have a small circle of very close friends that I know I can rely on, as well as some amazing friends living all over the world who I don’t get to see very often. I value each of them as much as they value me, and although sometimes I don’t see them for weeks or months on end, when we get together for a catch up it’s just like we saw each other yesterday. Talking is easy, whether it’s everyday chit-chat or sharing our worries and delving into the deep stuff. So, even though I may not always see them, I know they’re there for me when it matters most.
So, it got me thinking, what makes a good friend? I think there are some crucial ingredients that make friendship work…
1. Being real – no pretence, no faking it, and no façade. Friendship is when you’re comfortable enough to be truly yourself and realising you’re enough as you are. There’s no need to amplify yourself or put on a front to make others like you, because real friendship flourishes when you’re authentic, genuine and not trying to be something you’re not.
2. Being honest – no excuses, just honesty. A real friend is someone who can compliment you and also give you constructive criticism when you need it. Its someone who will give you advice that you need, but may not want to hear. And its someone who will tell you straight without hurting your feelings. If something doesn’t suit you, they’ll tell you… but they’ll also help you find an alternative too.
3. Making time for each other– genuine friends don’t always wait for you to make the first move, because they want to see you and you’re not just there for when nothing better comes along. To a real friend, you’re a choice and not just an option, so they’ll go out of their way to spend time with you or touch base, no matter how busy life gets. And they know that you’ll do the same.
4. Listening to the good, the bad and the ugly – we all need someone who is there for the good times as well as the bad times. A great friend is approachable and always there for you when you need them with a shoulder to cry on… whether you share tears of sadness or tears of laughter. We might not tell all of our friends the deep and important stuff, but when you do, then you know they’re part of your inner circle and that’s a friend you can rely on.
5. Liking you for who you really are – you don’t have to have loads in common to be great friends, but you’ll get on well if you can appreciate each other’s quirks and favourite things in life. Good friends don’t judge you or try to change you. Instead, they’re genuinely interested in you and your life. They make an effort to know the little things about you that matter and they love you and appreciate you because of all your unique quirks.
6. Being trustworthy – everyone needs a friend who can keep a secret and have your back no matter what. They should be someone you can trust and you know will be on your side when things go wrong. Someone you can trust to have your best interests at heart and give you good advice when you need it most. And someone you can trust to never tell another soul about your most embarrassing moments that you laugh about together.
7. Being positive – we all have bad days, but a great friend will pick you up when you’re feeling down and bring out the best in you. They will hear you out when you need to vent, but they won’t let you wallow for too long. You’ll share good times together and make happy memories, and you’ll look back on the good times for years to come. But you’ll also make wild and unrealistic plans to travel, and do this, and see that – you’ll look forward to all the adventures you’re yet to have.
8. Supporting you, not competing with you– a real friend is supportive and happy for your successes, rather than seeing life as a competition where they always have to go one better than you. Friends should be your biggest fans, waving you on from the side lines and celebrating your successes with you. When you find a true friend, your success makes them happy and vice versa, because life is good when you cheer each other on!
All in all, friendship is a two-way thing. It’s a bit of give and a bit of take, but you have to strike a balance of the two. People come and go at different points throughout your life, but good friends will always be a part of your life, no matter where your journey takes you both and no matter how often you get to spend time together.
So, when you find the good ones, hang on to them… because good friends are hard to come by and they’re worth more than you’ll ever know!