What Makes a "True" Friend?
“A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”
-Jim Morrison, singer/songwriter
Most people probably have a lot more “acquaintances” than “true friends.” Acquaintances can be wonderful people who are important to us. But, there is something about a relationship with a real, “true” friend that makes the person more central and impactful in our lives. If you have someone in your life that you know will always be there for you through thick and thin, then you know what it feels like to have a true friend and you are a very fortunate person indeed.
The “seasoned” years provide a great time to strengthen existing friendships and make new ones. Like fine wine, friendships often improve with age. As we get older, we are no longer as influenced by some of the things that might have weakened a friendship when we were younger. We tend to more comfortable in our own skin, more accepting and forgiving of others, and less critical of the “smaller” things in life.
Some studies have shown that having friends you can count on is measurably good for your health and well-being as you get older. Research suggests that friends can help improve the quality of life in later years and even lengthen life spans.
With all the people that come in and out of our lives through the decades, some will be acquaintances and some will be true friends. In general, true friends might be best described as people we “choose” to be our family.
Characteristics of a "True" Friend
- A true friend is attentive. The desire to listen is the sign of a friend who really cares. A true friend listens to you with his/her full attention, validates your feelings, and responds with awareness and focus.
- A true friend can be trusted. You can share your secrets with a true friend and know that whatever you share will stay with that person. A true friend does not gossip behind your back and will never say or do anything to damage your reputation.
- A true friend will not judge. You can be confident that a true friend accepts and loves you as you are and does not expect you to be anybody or anything else. A true friend understands that you will not always agree with each other or share the same beliefs and opinions… and it is perfectly okay.
- A true friend is forgiving. Nobody is perfect or immune from making mistakes and a true friend knows that. When you have disagreements or something hurtful happens between you, a true friend will find a way to reach across the divide that may separate you to grab your hand and hold on. A true friend does not hold a grudge.
- A true friend says “I’m sorry.” It isn’t always easy to realize or accept when you are mistaken or have made an error. A true friend will try to see things from your perspective and acknowledge when you are right and he/she is not.
- A true friend is honest, even when it is difficult. A true friend will tell you how they really feel even if it is not something you want to hear. He or she will applaud you for your positive actions and “call you out” when he/or she thinks you need to hear it.
- A true friend helps you be more accepting of yourself. When you are full of self-doubt or your self-esteem needs a boost, a true friend will lift you up. He/she will help you see the positives you may overlook when you are feeling down about yourself.
- A true friend is supportive through highs and lows. During life’s victories, a true friend will be your loudest cheerleader. He/she will be genuinely happy for you. During times of heartbreak, pain or crisis, a true friend will be ther to support and guide you without hesitation.
- A true friend keeps drama to a minimum. Every friendship has its dramatic moments, but a good friend will not create drama just for attention. A healthy friendship does not require theatrics to keep it strong.
- A true friend makes friendship a priority. Lives are busy. A true friend makes time for you. He or she tries to keep up with what is happening in your life even when life is hectic. If you need a true friend, he or she will always find a way to be there for you.
- A true friend is in it for the “long haul.” Friendships that endure the test of time do not just happen. They are forged by a desire and determination to see them thrive and flourish. A true friend knows and respects the fact that there is an ebb and flow to most friendships. You may not see a true friend for weeks months, or even years, but it never takes long to pick right up as if you were together yesterday.