What makes a good friend? Most of us think we know one when we see one. But in case you’re unsure, here’s a quick take: Good friends support one another, see the best in one another, respect one another, and make time for one another. They have fun together, and tend to have interests in common.
And while social media is great for keeping in touch with friends, you want at least some friends who will do more than just “like” your funny photos; you want a friend or two who will be there for you, in person, when you need them most.
What’s more, good friends do more for us than drive us to the airport or help us move. Research suggests that people with strong social support have a reduced risk of health problems like depression, high blood pressure, and unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have shown that strong friendships may even help us lead longer, happier lives.
How do you get and keep friends that keep you healthy? It all boils down to the Golden Rule.
Here are a few simple things you can do for a friend that you’d probably love to receive in return:
- Be thoughtful. A kind and thoughtful gesture, remark, or gift—large or small—can mean so much. Having trouble coming up with ideas? Think of what you would like if you were in your friend’s place.
- Be available. Life gets busy. We all know this. When you make time for your friend, it’s just as if you’re telling them, “You’re important to me. You’re worth it.”
- Be a good listener. Being able to tell your problems to someone else can be a huge stress-reliever all by itself. Remember, your friend probably doesn’t expect you to solve their problems. They’re just hoping for a sympathetic ear.
- Be honest. Everyone needs someone they can get “real” with. When friends are honest with each other and show that they care no matter what, it means both friends have a place they can take their toughest problems.
- Be trustworthy. Do what you say you’ll do, keep confidential info to yourself, and look after your friends’ interests like they were your own, and you’ll make friends who are worthy of your
- Be forgiving. Pobody’s nerfect. That goes for you, and for your friends. When you show a friend forgiveness, you’re showing that their friendship means more than a single mistake. It’s a gesture that you’ll be glad you made—when it’s your turn to ask for forgiveness.
These are good ways to make and keep friends, but what about where to find them? Since good friends tend to share common interests, maybe the best way is just to get out there and do the things you love—or, if that’s not working for you, try something brand new. Either way, be open and be patient. Great friendships take time. But they’re worth it.