What Qualities Do Strong Friendships Have?

Having friends, true friends, can add meaning to your life. Friends give you a sense of belonging and a shoulder to cry on when you need one, both of which contribute to your overall mental health. Positive, healthy friendships can also decrease stress, raise your confidence, and, according to science, people with stable friendships are less likely to make certain unhealthy lifestyle choices. From a scientific standpoint, adults who have strong friendships are less prone to mental health problems, increased body mass, and high blood pressure. Older adults who interact with their friend groups regularly also have longer life expectancies. 

But how do you go about finding and cultivating these strong, life-affirming friendships? 

Aristotle wrote extensively about what defines a friend, and what makes someone a good friend. He even developed the concept of Philia, a love between two friends. He said that true friends love one another for who they are, and want only good things for one another. He postulated that this type of friendship could only exist between “good people similar in virtue,” because only a good person is able to love another purely for who they are.

They Make Each Other Feel Good and Offer Support

Good friends give each other sincere compliments. They raise your self-esteem and confidence by saying nice things and lifting each other up, so both you and they feel good about themselves. When times get tough for one of you, the other one is there to offer emotional support and help them feel better.  

They Respect Their Differences 

Although many people make friends through a shared interest, it is extremely unlikely (albeit not impossible) that all of your hobbies and interests are exactly the same, and that’s okay. The key is to be respectful of your differences and allow the other person the time they need to engage in those activities. It is important to remember that good friends always encourage each other, even with their separate interests.

They Are Trustworthy and a Good Listener

This may sound like common sense but everybody likes to feel valued and that includes being listened to when they speak. Zoning out when a friend is confiding in you or interrupting and talking over them is a guaranteed way to keep them from doing so again. When a friendship is healthy, each person is interested in what the other one has to say. They aren’t critical, and they keep private information private.

They Are Respectful of Boundaries 

If you are friends for a long time, issues are sure to arise between the two of you. Without meaning to, one of you is eventually going to say or do something that upsets the other. Regardless of what caused the problem, true friends can work through their issues by talking openly and honestly about what happened and how it made them feel rather than engaging in the passive-aggressive behaviors, silent treatment, or even open hostility that are so often our responses to these kinds of problems. 

They Let Each Other In 

Building a truly close connection takes time and effort. By taking the time to be actively involved in your friend’s life and allowing them to be actively involved in yours, the natural walls that we tend to put up as adults will slowly come down. Eventually, you will be completely comfortable with each other, allowing strong friendships to form.

Most of all, it is important to cherish and be grateful for the friends in your life. When people feel wanted and appreciated, they are more likely to reciprocate those feelings and create the foundation for a lasting friendship. 

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