In 1967, The Beatles released a song that is still an anthem for all friendships today: I get by with a little help from my friends.
As we all know, these special relationships do more than just get us by. Friends are our concert buddies. They’re the people that come over to trap a mouse that’s in the apartment. They’re the ones who see us through relationship blunders and changes at work. Research has also found that friends help us live longer.
Aristotle once described a true friend as a “single soul dwelling in two bodies” — but what differentiates a true, lasting friendship from the other, temporary social bonds? According to Robert Rowney, D.O., a certified psychiatrist and the director of the Cleveland Clinic mood disorder unit, there are certain habits that genuine friends possess, which make them more like family. And it’s these characteristics — and sometimes even tough love — that create that indescribable bond.
Below, find the 11 qualities that set real friends apart from the other relationships in our lives.
1. You Can Appreciate Each Other’s Differences
Everyone in the world is different. Loving someone’s personality is a good start in a friendship. In a healthy friendship, we enjoy aspects of each other, we enjoy what the other brings to the table and what they bring to our lives. A healthy friendship begins with an appreciation for someone’s unique character and personality traits. We have to enjoy their company first and foremost.
2. You Trust Each Other
One of the fundamental aspects of any relationship is trust. There are many levels of trust and a healthy relationship has them all intact. First, we need to trust that a person will not steal from us, or cause us deliberate physical or emotional harm. This includes trusting that they will not try to poison our friendships or our life goals. The next level is that we can trust them to keep their word and keep our secrets. This trust can eventually be extended, in a strong friendship, as far as trusting someone with your life.
3. You Can Talk To Each Other
Everyone needs to talk to someone, whether it is just for a casual natter, or for a more serious conversation. When we talk with a good friend, we know we can talk about anything, no matter what is in our head, no matter how deep or shallow it may be. We know they will understand and if they don’t they will give us the time. They give us advice when we need or they will listen to us rant and cry. More than anything they give us some of the best chats of our lives.
4. You Feel Comfortable In Silence
We can not always be talking, especially if we spend a prolonged period of time with someone. We must, therefore, learn how to be silent, and this develops with a good friendship. Do not consider silence as being negative or awkward and we learn that we do not always need to talk to be in their company. This leads to a more dynamic and less forced relationship and means we can be comfortable in any mood around our friends.
5. You Support Each Other’s Life Aims
When we are young, at school or college, for example, it may seem like all of our friends are heading in the same direction as us. As life progresses we realize that this is simply not the case; everyone has their own path and their own life goals. In a true friend, we develop an understanding of each other’s goals and respect each other’s efforts to advance on their own path. In turn, we feel that they also respect ours, even if they are completely different. We support the other person because we want them to be happy.
6. Time And Space Are Not An Issue
Life comes issues of time and space, and sometimes this gap can become quite large. Still, a good friendship does not discourage this from happening. We want the best for our friends, and they want the best for us. A healthy friendship would sooner face boundaries of space and time than live close together restricting each other’s life goals. Time and space never ruin a good friendship. It does not even matter if no contact is made for a long time, the friendship transcends all of that.
7. It Is Not Awkward When You Catch Up
With time and space becoming more of a factor sometimes we might not see our good friends for a long time. You may have lived completely different lives, and have changed as people. But when you meet them, it never takes long to start to remember why friendship is so strong. A true friendship can catch up with change, and the relationship develops whilst keeping a tone that has always been there; one of a good friendship.
8. You Respect Each Others Point Of View
Everyone has different ideas, different points of view about the world and everything in it. Maybe none of your best friends think in the same way as you. They do not think so differently that we can not see eye-to-eye but they definitely have their own opinions. What matters in friendship, more than thinking the same, is that everyone has respect for everyone else’s point of view. That both are willing to learn from each other or at least accept different perspectives.
9. You Laugh And Joke
The craziest humor develops in a true relationship. Often it makes little or no sense to an outside observer, who has not been around to grasp the three years building up to the punchline. Good humor requires all parties to let go of their defensive urges, and also to respect each other’s boundaries, and not take unnecessary digs. Friendship should be fun, good-willed, and good-humored.
10. You Are There When The Other Needs You
Sometimes we need help. We are going through a difficult time and we need someone who is there for us. It could be a favor that we need to ask, or advice from someone to help us to gain a better perspective. Whatever it is a good friend will see the severity of the situation and be happy to offer what help they can. We, of course, should be happy to do reciprocate the favor for our friends.
11. A Healthy Friendship Is Mutual
Mutual respect, mutual understanding, mutual appreciation, give and take. The one-sided relationship that only takes, or only gives, is not going to develop into a long healthy friendship. Friendship is always mutual.