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7 Signs You Have Quality Friendships

April 20, 2014

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Research backs up what many of us know instinctively: Quality friendships are good for our health. Many studies, including the landmark Nurses’ Health Study, show that social interaction with friends can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol, and an Australian study of older people found that those who had a large network of friends lived much longer than those with the fewest friends.

Take a moment to think about your friends. How many do you have? How many of those do you consider really close friends? Chances are you have fewer than a handful of friends who you would turn to in times of trouble. Now, think about how those friends regard you. How many of them would rely on you in tough times? Because really, that’s the true measure of a quality friendship. When you need them, they are there, and when they need you, you don’t let them down.

The Hallmarks of Quality Friendships

There are many qualities inherent in a good friendship, the sum of which creates a friendship that lasts through thick and thin. Of course, many of these qualities are inherent in ther people with whom you surround yourself. If you're surrounding yourself with the wrong people, you'll never have the type of friendships that nourish you.

Qualities of a Good Friend:

As you read through these descriptions, envision your friends, and the ones who are truly quality will come to mind every time:

  • Your friend is a good listener. She doesn’t interrupt with her own stories, but encourages you to talk as long as you need. She is genuinely interested in you.
  • Your friend gives you space. She understands that you need time for other things in your life, and those things don’t endanger your friendship.
  • Your friend is forgiving. Maybe, in a fit of exasperation at something else, you were cruel or rude. Your friend understands.
  • Your friend is reliable. When your friend says she will do something, she does. You don’t have to worry that she will let you down.
  • Your friend supports you through tough times. She shows up at your apartment with a bottle of wine because she knows you’ve had a rough day. She knows how to improve your mood and reduce your stress.
  • Your friend is trustworthy. You can tell your friend anything and know that she will keep it to herself.
  • Your friend helps you to reach your goals. Need an exercise buddy? She’s there. Need an emergency babysitter so you can attend class? She’s there.

Are You a Good Friend?

Friendship is a give and take. It’s just as important to be a good friend as it is to have good friends, and it takes time and an openness of self to nurture a quality friendship. You know what qualities you value in your close friends; why not measure your own behavior to see if you could be a better friend? To be the best friend you can be:

  • Accept yourself as you are. Be realistic and secure about who you are. Insecurity and self-criticism push friends away.
  • Accept others as they are. Don’t judge. When your friends make mistakes, give them a shoulder to cry on, but only give them advice if they ask for it. Don’t belittle them or their choices.

When friends get together, it can be a positive and healing experience. Find the time to connect with your friends often. It’s much more important than a household chore or the latest episode of your favorite TV show. Call a friend for coffee or lunch, or just take a long walk and talk about anything and everything. It may just be the best thing you’ve done for yourself, and your friend, in a long time.

What is the best thing a friend has ever done for you? Share with us in the comments below.