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What is a True Friend? The 12 Key Characteristics of Real Friends

Unfortunately, these days it’s seems that the art of friendship is on the decline. What is a true friend and how many do you have in your life?

You can blame social media, the internet, or whatever you want, but it seems that friendship is not what it used to be. All too often we see fall outs, publicly played out on social media, and we see friends who have known each other for years never speak to each other again over something small and petty. I’m left wondering, what is a true friend?

What is happening to us and our view of friendship?

I thought I had many friends, but as the years tick by I’ve realized that friendship isn’t just being there. It’s about many other things too. I had a large circle, but each one of them, barring one, has shown me that they cannot be trusted, or that they have their own agenda, rather than being considerate of our friendship.

It’s sad, and I’m not looking for your sympathy, because all of this has taught me one thing. True friendship is something to hold onto. I have one true friend who have I known since I was a child, and I cherish that friendship. Everything I’ve been through with fake friends has made me question, what is a true friend? And now I know I have one, that’s enough for me! [Read: Real friends vs fake friends – 13 ways to instantly tell them apart]

How many true friends do you think you have in your life? If you’re not sure, break it down: what is a true friend? What characteristics and features make up this elusive creature? Let’s explore and allow you to come to your own *probably quite painful* conclusion. [Read: How to surround yourself with positive people]

What is a true friend?

To find out what a true friend really is, I brainstormed the characteristics that I’ve noticed over the years. I’ve lost many so-called friends, but the one I have left certainly ticks these boxes.

#1 A trustworthy individual. What is a true friend? Someone you can trust with your life. This is your ride or die. Someone who you know will be beside you and who you know you can tell anything to and it won’t be repeated. This is precious, and something quite scarce these days. [Read: 5 unique traits that make a person trustworthy]

#2 Someone who can really listen. Of course, friendship works both ways, but a true friend is someone who listens to you and really understand not only what you’re saying verbally, but what you’re not saying too.

This person would know you inside out and read your body language, your tone of voice, the speed of speech, and take the words you’re using and bring it all together into one realistic conclusion. That’s a special skill only a true friend has.

#3 You know if you need them, they’ll be there. Need to bury a body at 3am? Hopefully not, but you get the picture. This is someone who will be there for you when you’re in trouble, when you’re upset, when you’re hurting, and when you’re sick.

A true friend may not be there for you in person at all times, because it’s important to remember that they have their own lives. But they will be there for you on the other end of the phone, and if they need to drop everything, they will. Of course, you should do the same for them. [Read: The art of friendship and ways to hone your friendship skills]

#4 An understanding person. Far too many people are closed minded. They believe their view is the only one. Nothing else exists. If you dare to have another opinion, you’re wrong. That isn’t a true friend. A true friend is someone who can see your point of view and do their best to understand it from your side, even if it’s not what they believe in or agree with.

#5 Someone who isn’t afraid of tough love. True friendship isn’t about always agreeing with each other and telling each other what you want to hear. It’s about having the guts to call them out and tell them when they’re wrong or when something looks stupid or when they’re being ridiculous. It might sting, but it’s always done with your best intentions at heart. That is the difference between a good friend and a flaky one.

#6 They’ve got your back, even when you’re not there. Someone talking trash behind your back? Your true friend will call them out and deal with it, defending you even when you’re not there to defend yourself. This is loyalty. And it’s the one of the biggest traits to tick off your list. [Read: How to be a good friend by following the BFF code]

#7 You talk ‘just because.’ Many ‘friends’ only call when they want something or when they’re bored. A true friend calls ‘just because.’ This means sitting and chatting about nothing, but enjoying every second of it. It simply means that you enjoy the time you spend together. Whether you are doing something epic or nothing at all.

#8 They know you’re not perfect. They don’t care. Many people waste their time looking for the perfect friend. They don’t exist. A true friend knows your faults. They accept them and love you for them. You do the same for them.

In the age of social media *so-called* perfection, everyone seems to be looking for the best looking squad, or a team who can get them where they want to go. Isn’t that all very superficial and selfish?

#9 You might not talk for a while, but you know they’re there. True friends don’t have to talk every single day. My friend and I talk once or twice per week. In the past, it’s stretched longer than that. This doesn’t mean we’re losing touch. It means we’re living our lives, but we’re always there for each other when needed. Life ebbs and flows. A true friend understands that.

#10 You laugh together over literally nothing. If you find yourself laughing about small things for no reason other than you feel like it, you share a friendship vibe that can’t be replaced. Silly moments are the glue that holds a friendship together in so many ways, and true friends have many of them!

#11 Time might change, but they don’t. As time ticks on, people change a little. Their priorities alter and you might find that their personalities do too. A true friend might have life changes, but they stay the same when they’re with you. Your friendship remains static, always supportive and always there, whether you’re far apart or side by side. [Read: The 15 qualities that set a good friend apart]

#12 They don’t question or belittle you. What is a true friend? Someone who accepts you for you who are and what you believe. They don’t question your actions unless they believe it’s going to cause you harm. A true friend never belittles your choices. Instead, they support you and lift you up. If you fall, they help cushion the blow.

[Read: The real art of true and meaningful friendships]

What is a true friend to you? Is it someone who encompasses these 12 characteristics, or do you have a few others to add to the list? 

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