8 Tips to Be a Good Friend

Friendships abound, but being a good friend is a quality that not everyone enjoys. Here are some tips to help your friendships thrive.
8 Tips to Be a Good Friend
Jose Padilla

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Jose Padilla.

Last update: 01 July, 2023

How do you know if you’re a good friend? Are there tips to be a good friend?

You may have many friendships and feel that the relationship flows because there’s trust and camaraderie. But this is not everything that a good friendship involves. Taking these bonds for granted without truly investing in them could break the bond or make the other person feel that, in reality, you aren’t such a good friend.

We’re talking about factors such as quality time, sincerity, and discretion. In general, all of these things that benefit our friendship also benefit us, and lead to better, more lasting bonds.

If we take a look at the basic definition of friendship, the Royal Spanish Academy specifies that it’s “personal, pure and disinterested affection shared with another person, which is born and strengthened with the treatment”. Based on this concept, here are some suggestions that can serve to show what a good friend you are.

The importance of a good friend

Having a friend is about having someone who’s always willing to help, especially in tough times. Their company is enough, without requiring any action other than the gesture of being there to offer strength, support, and encouragement.

Friends are united by affection and reciprocal respect, as highlighted in an article on the Kantian concept of friendship, published by the Journal of Moral and Political Philosophy ISEGORÍA. These ties exert a great influence on the formation of personal character and contribute to the meaning of life.

Another appreciation of the value of friendship is that raised by the Philosophical Magazine Diánoia, which goes a little deeper. In this article, it’s detailed that friendship involves a need for mutual affection, a reciprocal disposition, and an expectation of help that isn’t asked from other people who aren’t considered as close.

Thus, good friends are characterized by not wearing “masks”; understanding the truths, feelings, and emotions of the other; sharing dreams, and contributing, in some way, to materializing them; and not judging or criticizing your actions. A friend is important in moments of relief; it’s essential to open space in your life to someone who, without reproach, becomes a valuable form of support and your “chosen family.”

We think you may be interested in reading this, too: Friendships Between Men Versus Friendships Between Women: Learn the Differences

How to be a good friend? Pay attention to the following tips

You might read the above and try to recognize those behaviors in your friendships. But are you a good friend? Here are some tips to help you be a truly good friend.

Amigos comparten un momento
Friendship creates a lifelong bond that provides support in difficult times.

1. Prioritize your friendships

No matter how busy your life is, make time for friendship. You will be a valuable friend as long as you make this relationship a central part of your life.

Make time for a video call, schedule a dinner, or go for a walk. Even if you invest only a few minutes of your time, it means a lot to your friendship.

If you don’t prioritize your friendship, this bond may become weaker.

2. Know how to forgive

No one is exempt from making mistakes. When faced with mistakes, however, good friends forgive.

This is one of the main keys to being good friends; its essence is in the courage with which both recognize the roots of the conflict, are able to dialogue and look at each other straightforwardly, and to forgive behaviors or actions that were not pleasant.

If there’s no room for forgiveness and, on the contrary, resentment is nurtured, there will be problems. Even if they try to believe that they’ve “turned the page”, the problem may resurface at any moment. This is not a trait found in good friends.

Be an ideal friend, forgiving with sincerity.

3. Answer their calls and messages

It’s not just about physical presence; answering a message or a call is a way to show companionship, especially if the friend is going through some work, love, or other problem. You’re a good friend when you don’t leave those who need you alone.

4. Tips to be a good friend: Lift their spirits and build up their self-esteem

Good friends lift the spirits and raise the spirits of their peers to achieve goals in their lives. You’re one of these when you nurture their self-esteem, avoid criticizing them, and demonstrate loyalty.

Also, it’s great if you often remind them of their qualities and potential. A nice comment can easily transform a friend’s bad day into a good one.

5. Listen to and respect their secrets

Paying attention to what a friend says and honoring their confidence when appropriate is a way to be good at friendship.

Let the other person notice and feel that you are listening; this is even more important if the conversation revolves around finding solutions to a certain problem.

6. Be an honest person

Listening also includes speaking your “truths”... even those that the other person may not like to hear.

In this regard, the philosophical journal Thought comments that in true friendship, there’s a commitment based on expressing not only what the friend would like to hear, but also what you think it’s a good idea for them to know or remember at that moment. This is part of the love and honesty that characterizes friends.

7. Debate without problems

Conflicting opinions are common in friendship.

This doesn’t mean that you normalize constant fights, but it’s possible to have debates about particular topics or situations. For example, you may have different political thoughts or support rival soccer teams. If you’re the good kind of friend, you talk about controversial issues without denting the relationship – i.e., you defend your point of view with respect.

Discusión entre amigas
Arguments in friendships will always come up, but a good friend knows how to overcome them.

8. Tips to be a good friend: Support their decisions

This doesn’t mean you have to approve of everything a friend does, but you make it clear that, although you consider other alternatives to a certain issue, you’re on their team and support them.

Likewise, when a friend is stressed, help them calm down, offer advice and visualize a scenario with possible alternatives so they can make appropriate decisions.

Be careful! Know how to detect the behaviors and traits of a bad friend

You already know how to identify good friends and what you should consider to be one yourself. Now, what about those people who are present in our lives, but we’re not so sure if their presence is positive?

There are friendly relationships that are harmful and destructive. This is what could be understood as “toxic friends“- those who make you feel bad, manipulate you, are dishonest, and invest little time in you.

From them, it’s a good idea to get some distance. If, on the contrary, you think you might be a toxic friend, try to avoid these behaviors and seek help from a specialist if you’d like to learn to become a better friend.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.