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Friends are always coming and going, and after having my share of friendship trials and tribulations, I began to pick up on what qualities my lasting friendships have. I adore each of my friends who showcase these qualities, and I strive to be this kind of friend to them, too.

Knowing when to Listen vs. Advise

Friends are people we confide in. We tell them stories, rant to them or ask for advice. I need to talk myself through things a lot of the time, and some of the people that know me the best just listen and allow me to work things out on my own.

I am so grateful for these friends that are willing to just listen to me, and I have noticed how their listening skills have rubbed off on me. I find myself listening to my friends’ stories and rants, and once they finish, instead of immediately offering advice, I ask them if that is something they even want.

Separating listening from advising has also helped me to listen more intently and actively. If I know my friend just needs to speak and isn’t particularly looking for advice; then I listen to them instead of planning out what I will say to help. I appreciate when my friends do this for me, so I have always made it a point to separate listening from advising when my friends come to me for something.

Trust

This one is a given of any good friend. You want your friends to be trustworthy. However, I have found this to be less common recently. Because of this, when I first meet a new friend, I always keep my guard up. I never fully tell them anything I wouldn’t want many people knowing until I feel like I can fully trust them.

I have a couple of friends that I trust everything with, and I can only hope they feel the same way about me. On the other end, I also have a couple of friends that I don’t exactly trust. These friends, I hold at a certain length. They can be enjoyable to be around and easy to make memories with, but I do not go to them when I am in a difficult situation.

It is okay to have this distinction between your friends, trust is a critical quality in a friendship, but it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. As long as you know which friends you can trust and always have a mutual understanding of the trust you have together.

Loyalty and Constant Support

When you have a friend you don’t talk to every day or rarely see in person, loyalty and unwavering support comes into play. It is essential to have friends you know will always be there for you even when you aren’t constantly in touch.

This support is significant as we all begin our own careers and separate lives. Knowing your friends will support your new business or, in my case, the pieces like these that I write are what keeps me going. I have had friends tell me that they enjoy reading my published articles, which truly means the world to me, and it shows that they are supportive of me.

This support is also needed socially. It is important to stand up for your friends and always protect their character. Be there for them when they need you, no matter what you’re doing or what time of day it is. Give them the advice they need, but don’t upset if they don’t follow it.

When you advise a friend about a difficult decision, and they choose the option you personally wouldn’t have, it is crucial to still support them. Not everyone would do what you do, so you may not be happy with their choice. You may need to comfort them when they realize it was the wrong decision, but still supporting them through it goes hand in hand with being a loyal friend.

Try to show these qualities yourself to any friends you have. If they don’t already display these traits, they will hopefully catch on to you showing them.

When you find a friend with all three of these qualities, never let them go. They are such special people to have in your life, and I am so lucky to have found more than one of them in mine.

Marlena is a third-year in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State where she is majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Psychology and Digital Media Trends and Analytics. She is so grateful to be at Penn State and loves learning more about communications, her peers, and herself every day. She hopes to use this knowledge and her own positive outlook to help others in any way she can.
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