By Alexandra Negru
Friends are people you can share intimacies and experiences with, and you are an important part of each other’s lives. The beauty of friendship is that you get to choose your friends, unlike with family.There is a lot of truth behind the common saying ‘In order to have a great friend, you must first be one.’ Being a great friend is a skill that you can cultivate.Making an effort to enhance this part of your life can be more than beneficial. Studies show if you have good friends throughout your life, you will live longer. Valuing and taking care of your friendships will not only make you happier, it will allow you to build up your chosen family.So, how can you be a good friend?
- Be open minded and non-judgemental. Put aside your personal beliefs and try not to project your own insecurities onto your friends.
- Be present. Make time for your friend. Sharing experiences brings people closer together and helps relationships stay alive and thrive. Try to meet up once in a while; texting can only go so far. Send voice memos instead if you cannot talk live on the phone. Hearing each other’s voices and tones makes a great difference.
- Be a good listener and learn how to hold space. More often than not, people need someone to listen to them as they talk through their feelings. They are not looking for someone to fix their issues, but rather for someone to hear them out. Ask them about what goes on in their lives. Remember important details and show genuine interest in their stories.
- Be real. A good friend is someone genuine, someone with whom you can be yourself and they can be themselves around you. Speak openly from the heart and allow yourself to be vulnerable. In return, your friend will also feel at ease to expose their emotions and their true colors.
- Be loyal. In the highs, but also in the lows. Show that you care by always finding a way to be there for them. Be supportive and cheer them on.
- Be grateful. Small gestures go a long way. Say thank you and tell them how much you appreciate them. Don’t wait for a special occasion, rather make every occasion special.
- Be trustworthy and know how to keep secrets. Trust lets us feel safe with friends—safe to be vulnerable and to share our plans, our true selves, and our lives. Keep your promises and be dependable.
- Apologize when necessary. Be willing to work through difficult times. Misunderstandings, hurt feelings and conflict are also part of relationships; own your mistakes and learn how to forgive.