How to Be a Good Friend

Over the last 22 years of my life I’ve had several different friendships. Some have been around since we were in diapers and others have blossomed over the last year. Being a friend is easy – being a good friend, well, now that takes some work. I’ve learned that friendships need work, just as much (if not more than) the work you put in for your boyfriend or girlfriend. I know everyone needs different things from their friends – and we have different friends for different things. I would never in a million years ask my gym buddy to go to a poetry slam, it’s just not her scene. And that is ok! But here are some things I love about my good friends.

 

1. Listen. Now this may seem obvious, but this is essential in being a good friend. It is important to listen when your friend is having a bad day - and a one good too. It’s important to remember you friend loves dark chocolate or is allergic to bees. For me, I love when my friends remember the little things about me. When they ask, “How was your dentist appointment yesterday?” - that kind of stuff is priceless.  Listening to your friend makes them feel valued and important – this is especially noteworthy when they are going through something challenging, like a break-up. Listening also lets your friend know you actually care about them. If you don’t have time to talk, then you probably have too many friends. Sometimes, its better to close your social calendar than it is to ignore the signs and signals of your friends. And keep in mind, some of these are as clear as “Hey, can we hangout tomorrow?” and some are confusing like a subtle shoulder shrug. It’s important to listen to their words and their body language, and do what you can for them.

2. Support. Any friend goes up in my books when they support me. The little text messages “I’m proud of you,” or them showing up to an event you’ve been working hard on means so much. For me, words have significant weight (hey, I am an English major), but actions mean so much more. It’s one thing to say you’ll be there for your friend, but it’s a whole other thing to actually show up and be present. Especially when you are stressed to the max about school, it’s so special and meaningful when your friend meets you at the library and encourages you to study, or comes with you to get Starbucks before class. These are the little ways you can let your friend lean on you and they will love you for it. The tiny little things that say to your friend, like “you’re important, I’m here for you,” truly move mountains. But, support isn’t something you should give just when someone is struggling. It's important to always support your friends. Even if you tell them what they are doing isn’t the best or you don’t agree with them, it’s still important to let them know you will always have their back, no matter what.

 

3. Being there. Make sure to check in on your friends. Make sure you text them once and a while and see what they are up to. Let your friend know you are still in their corner. I have some great friends who live a couple hours away, and we get super busy. But I always know they are around because they send me a text, call me, or tag me in something on social media. These little gestures make your friendship last and make it worthwhile for both parties. It’s important to put yourself out there for your friends. My mom always said, “smile, you never know what kind of day someone else is having.” A simple smile and hello can mean so much.

Friendship is definitely a two-way street. It is so important to use these tips and relate them to your relationships. You may not be the kind of person who needs endless support, but your friend might. Sometimes we put a lot more work and effort into a relationship, and other times we take a lot more from our friends. It’s important to recognize what you need and what your friends need from you in order for you both to be happy and stay friends.