Friendships are one of the most crucial and formative relationships you can ever build. Your friends are not bound by familial ties but are people you choose to share experiences with. Friends provide you with a sense of belonging that transcends family relationships. Your friends are the first group of people, outside of your family circle, that accept and welcome you. It is a rare thing to have true friends.
But, finding a true friend is a difficult feat. An even more difficult feat is being a good friend in return. While we all try, there are moments where we fall short and do not show up for our friends. Life gets in the way or we are not sufficiently self-aware enough to not realize when we are not being a good friend.
Below are six ways to be a better friend.
- Be mindful when you talk.
Most of us turn to our friends to vent. While it is helpful and does release pent-up feelings, building a friendship to have someone you can vent to is not a good idea.
Friends are supposed to listen and support you, but they are not therapists. They also have problems and concerns. It is common to monopolize a conversation if you are distressed. But, do not let it become a habit. You may unintentionally be adding stress to your friend’s emotional burden. Or worse, silencing them. In doing so, you are subtly telling them that you are not interested in them or their emotional needs, which may lead you to lose a friend.
Friends provide support, but they are not therapists. Even if they are, they are first your friends. Ask them how they are doing and check in with them. Relationships are reciprocal. You have to give just as much as you get.
- Accept your friend for who they are.
Every relationship requires a degree of acceptance. You have to accept the person you are with. In that vein, you will also have to accept their defects and shortcomings. Acceptance is an aspect of loyalty. Accepting your friends will also mean that you do not give up on them when they falter or become a bit distant. Everyone goes through phases, and perhaps your friend is going through something you are not aware of.
In staying by their side, you are supporting them.
- Keep your word.
We all are busy. It’s is a fact. Whether it is evident by the bags beneath someone’s eyes or not, we are all busy. However, being busy does not give you an excuse to cancel plans at the last minute.
If I may be honest, I had a period of my life where I was that person. I would make plans and cancel at the last minute. It wasn’t great, but I made plans out of fear that I would lose my friends if I didn’t. But, I canceled because of personal reasons. Since then, I’ve reformed my ways. I’ve learned that it is best to make plans only if you intend to follow through because it is disheartening to be at the other end, and people cancel on you just as you are about to out the door.
Following through with plans shows you respect your friend’s time and them as a person.
But, this point goes beyond making plans. It also encompasses anything you propose to do within the confines of your friendship.
- Show up
Keeping your word is one way to show up for your friends. But, showing up is more than physically being there. As a friend, you have to be willing to go beyond that. You should care about your friend and be there for them when they need someone.
Showing up for a friend means that you care about them.
Most of us have a hard time admitting when we’ve done something wrong. But, ignoring a wrong can ripple and cause negative impacts. It damages the trust and communication between you both– two things necessary to sustain a friendship.
So, apologize if you’ve offended your friend. Apologize even if you think you might have offended them because it is best to apologize than to let things simmer.
- Be honest.
A friendship lasts if both of you are honest. Honesty allows both of you to grow within the friendship.
However, do not use honesty to disguise rudeness. When you are being honest with your friend or others, be tactful. Be empathetic too. Offer ideas with the intent to help someone.
Friendships are beautiful and rare relationships. So, cherish them. The best way to value a friendship is by being a good friend to those who have been good friends to you.
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