How to Be a Better Friend - 13 Essential Friendship Habits - a little dose of happy - Blog

How to Be a Better Friend: 13 Essential Friendship Habits

The person you call at 3 a.m. when crisis strikes. The one who has seen you at your highest highs and lowest lows. Your ride-or-die who accepts you just as you are.

True friendship is a precious gift. But in our busy lives, it’s all too easy to let connections lapse into superficiality.

How do you transform casual acquaintances into close confidants? What habits take friendship to the next level and make you a better friend?

In this article, you will discover how to be a better friend. These simple yet effective habits can help you become a rock-solid foundation of support for your friends.

The results? Friendships that stand the test of time. Bonds that uplift you, help you grow, and feel like family.

If you’re ready to unlock the secrets of stellar friends so you can have friends like these in your own life, keep reading!

The Power of Strong Friendships

Friends are the family we choose – often knowing us better than our family relationships. Friends support us, bring new perspectives, and share in the joys and challenges of our daily lives.

friends taking a road trip

Studies show that people with strong social relationships are happier, healthier, and live longer. Friendships help reduce stress, provide comfort during life’s hardships, and improve self-esteem. A 2010 study found that close friendships can benefit physical health as much as quitting smoking. 

Friendships also play a vital role in protecting our mental health. Friends who listen without judgment and offer encouragement can make all the difference in times of emotional distress. One study found that people with trusted social relationships have a lower risk of developing depression. For those grappling with mental health issues, the support of caring friends can provide much-needed comfort, validation, and hope.

Beyond emotional and physical health benefits, meaningful friendships enrich our daily lives. Friends expand our worldviews, introduce us to new interests, and create wonderful memories. They share our laughter during good times and support us unfailingly during struggles.

In comparison to casual acquaintances, true friendship runs deep. It transcends convenience and shared circumstances. True friends accept and appreciate us for everything we are. They inspire us to grow into our best selves.

This raises the question – what’s the difference between a casual acquaintance and a true friend? Here are some key distinctions:

  • Depth of Connection – Long history together and deep understanding of each other
  • Reliability – Being there for each other during ups and downs
  • Loyalty – Having each other’s backs no matter what
  • Vulnerability – Ability to share feelings openly and be genuine
  • Support – Emotional support during difficult times
  • Forgiveness – Letting go of disagreements easily
  • Unconditional Acceptance – Appreciating each other without judgment
  • Growth – Helping each other achieve goals and grow
  • Fun – Natural enjoyment of each other’s company

When it comes to our mental health and well-being, the depth of our connections matters immensely. We all need people in our corner who “get” us, stand by us, and bring out our best.

Now that we’ve explored the incredible benefits of close friendships, let’s discuss how you can become a more supportive friend.

How to Be a Better Friend

Being a good friend isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. Like romantic relationships, cultivating friendships requires effort, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness.

Here are 13 of the top habits practiced by fantastic friends:

1. Be a Good Listener

One of the most valuable skills for a great friend is being a good listener. Give your friends your full attention when they’re speaking to you. Make eye contact, avoid interruptions, and set aside distractions.

friends talking outside during sunset

Respond thoughtfully to show you genuinely care about what they have to say. Freely ask open-ended questions to show interest and learn more. Offer advice if asked, but avoid jumping in with your own stories or opinions if your friend simply needs to vent or be heard. 

2. Be There in Times of Need

Life has its fair share of ups and downs. One hallmark of true friendship is showing up during the hard times and being a source of positivity.

Check in regularly when your friend seems stressed or is going through difficult life events. Emotional support is often most needed during losses, transitions, or challenging circumstances beyond one’s control.

Hardships can be isolating, so remind your friend they’re not alone through texts, calls, or visits. Provide encouragement and optimism to uplift them during trying times. You can make a meaningful difference simply by being cheerful and caring.

3. Be Reliable

Your friend should be able to count on you. When you make plans together, follow through. If your friend is depending on your help with something, come through without needing reminders. Show up on time and keep your promises.

Stand up for your friend and always have their back. Don’t contribute to gossip or talk negatively about them. Your loyalty will reinforce that this is a sincere, lasting friendship.

4. Keep Their Confidences

Trust is essential for any close relationship. When your friend shows vulnerability by confiding in you, keep their disclosures private. Don’t share secrets they’ve asked you to keep confidential. Respect their privacy.

You want your friend always to feel safe coming to you and opening up without fear of judgment or betrayal. So respond with compassion and understanding if they reveal relationship problems, family issues, embarrassing mishaps, or other sensitive topics. 

men talking outside a building

Keeping someone’s confidence demonstrates your integrity and deepens mutual trust over time. It enables true vulnerability and intimacy to develop. Let your friend know they can come to you during good times and bad and share their joys and sorrows without worry. 

5. Practice Empathy

Practicing empathy requires setting aside your own preferences to see through your friend’s eyes. You want to understand their viewpoint, even if you disagree. 

Don’t judge them for having different interests or perspectives. Remember, understanding doesn’t mean agreeing – it simply means respecting where your friend is coming from.

Set aside your own preferences occasionally to participate in activities your friend enjoys. Join them in their hobbies or passions to gain insight into why these things excite them.

Ask thoughtful questions to learn more about how they see the world. Express curiosity in their opinions. Help your friend feel seen, heard, and understood. Approaching your friend with empathy rather than judgment will strengthen your bond tremendously. 

6. Speak Up (With Kindness)

It takes courage to give constructive feedback to a friend. But open, honest communication is essential. Always default to kindness in how you speak. Choose gentleness over bluntness so important conversations fortify your bond rather than create distance.

If your friend unintentionally upsets you, address it candidly without blaming them. Use “I feel…” statements to express your perspective without putting them on the defensive.

Welcome your friend’s feedback non-defensively as well. Listen with the intent to understand their viewpoint. Improving your friendship is a two-way street requiring mutual respect.

Speaking kindly avoids unnecessary hurt. Your friend will be more receptive to discussing issues if they feel respected and appreciated. You can work through challenges together and grow even closer simply by showing consideration and care.

Whenever possible, compliment your friend sincerely on their strengths and positive qualities. Heartfelt compliments are a simple act of kindness that can make their day and deepen your connection.

7. Apologize and Forgive

Even close friends experience conflicts or hurt feelings from time to time. Don’t let resentment or grudges fester. Instead, address issues openly and make amends. Self-awareness helps you recognize when you’ve made a mistake or mishandled something. Be quick to sincerely apologize in those cases.

Also, be ready to forgive your friend’s mistakes without dredging up the past or keeping score. Let go of resentment and focus on reconciliation.

When conflicts arise, resist seeing the situation as you versus your friend. Embrace the perspective that it’s both of you together against an issue – not each other. Challenges are often external forces, not inherent personal flaws. So, team up to address problems with empathy and understanding. By doing so, conflicts can lead to even greater trust, intimacy, and happiness in your friendship.

friends hugging

8. Allow Them to Grow

Being a good friend includes allowing your friends to change and grow in their own lives as priorities may shift as they explore new hobbies, relationships, or careers.

Advise if asked, but avoid being judgmental. Remember that your friend is finding their own path to a better life as you are continually doing too. Bring a spirit of curiosity to your friend’s new interests rather than jumping to conclusions.

Allow space in the friendship if needed, but keep communication open. Changes don’t have to equate to growing apart. Continuing to practice empathy and keep an open heart preserves your bond.

9. Share Information and Connections

A fulfilling friendship goes beyond emotional bonding. Good friends share knowledge, resources, and opportunities for learning and growth. Share helpful information with your friend, such as a life-enhancing book you recently read, beneficial tools like apps known for boosting happiness, or an awe-inspiring TED talk. Enjoy discovering and learning new things together. Every piece of knowledge exchanged deepens your bond.

Beyond information, your personal and professional network can be a goldmine. Your friend may be looking to transition into a new field or start a hobby you’re familiar with. Introduce them to mentors, potential collaborators, or even new friends to help pave the way for their success. Be proactive. If you attend a seminar or workshop, consider how the insights could benefit them. Or, if you meet someone with similar interests, arrange a meet-up.

By actively seeking opportunities to uplift your friend in their professional or creative pursuits, you’re not just being supportive; you’re playing a role in shaping their future, making your bond truly invaluable.

10. Celebrate Their Accomplishments

When your friend shares an exciting announcement or reaches a goal, match their enthusiasm! Recognizing small wins can provide much-needed encouragement, fueling their confidence and motivation. Even modest accomplishments are stepping stones toward bigger dreams.

friends high fiving each other

Celebrating your friend’s achievements, small and large, cements your role as their unwavering supporter. Avoid comparing their progress to your own – every person’s journey is unique. Instead of jealousy, champion their success and feel pride in their accomplishments.

Express genuine joy for your friend pushing themselves further toward their aspirations. Their growth highlights the vast potential within all of us. Let their successes motivate you in your own journey. 

11. Check In Often

Amidst the busyness and blur of daily life, it’s essential to remember the people who ground us and give our lives meaning. Make keeping in touch a habit, not just when it’s convenient. Send a simple text, make a call, or plan sporadic get-togethers to send a powerful message to your friend that they’re important to you. These small gestures can light up their day.

When communication gaps occur, don’t be disheartened. True friendships have a resilient nature; you can always rekindle them. When you reconnect, do so with the same vigor and affection as before, as though no time has passed.

12. Have Fun and Make Memories

Laughter, adventure, and shared interests are the lifelines of lasting friendships. Making time for fun, whether reveling in the simplicity of shared jokes or embarking on new adventures, ensures the bond remains vibrant. Pose funny questions to each other, sparking lively discussions and fits of laughter. After all, shared laughter is often the heartbeat of a strong bond.

Plan getaways, have movie nights, or meet up weekly for a walk. Regardless of whatever fun thing you do, the continuous enjoyment of each other’s company is what truly matters. Such moments bring invaluable lightness and joy to a friendship, reminding both of you why you cherish each other so much.

13. Be Thoughtful

Small gestures often mean the most. Keep a running list of gift ideas that would delight your friend based on their interests. Do the same with important dates and milestones, and reach out on those special occasions with a text, card, or thoughtful gift. 

woman smiling while reading a text message

When you find a funny meme or interesting article you think they’d like, pass it along. Being remembered and appreciated never gets old. Consistent thoughtfulness cements your role as a caring friend.

Don’t wait for an occasion; spontaneously sending a thinking of you gift or note can brighten their day, reinforcing the depth of your bond. It’s these unexpected moments that often leave the most lasting impressions.

Final Thoughts

The secret to a happy life filled with joy, meaning, and growth is enjoying it with great friends. Imagine how much richer this world could be if we all strived to be the supportive, loyal friends we wish for! 

Developing strong bonds takes effort but rewards you with lifelong friendships. Small, consistent actions of devotion and support make all the difference if you want to be a better friend. So, reach out to old friends and deepen new bonds that resonate. Help friends become their best selves, and allow them to do the same for you.

Here’s to being an amazing friend – not just when it’s convenient, but during life’s many triumphs, struggles, and everyday moments, cultivating extraordinary bonds that stand the test of time. The future shines bright when you walk hand in hand with your friends!

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