Okay — let’s talk about Friends! I don’t mean the TV show, I mean real friendship!
In episode 010 I discussed character traits. So, building on that, how would you describe your closest friend? What do you appreciate or what qualities do you admire? What is it that makes your relationship work? Have you ever thought about that?
I researched a lot of lists that identified qualities of a good friend. Let’s talk about them.
Suzanne Degges-White is a counselor with a Ph.D. who focuses on girls’ relationships. She named these 13 Essential Traits of Good Friends:
- Trustworthiness, the top friendship quality on most lists, trust with personal/private details
- Honesty, truthful with friendship and others
- Dependability, someone people can count on or rely on
- Loyalty, someone who’s got your back
- Caring and nurturing
- Empathy, feeling with others (see episode 007)
- Accepting and non-judgemental
- Good listening skills, giving friends a chance to be heard
- Supportiveness, lean on when things are rough, celebrate big wins without envy or jealousy
- Congeniality, being friendly and nice to be around
- Self-confidence, like self-esteem
- Fun to be around and enjoy a good time
- Humor, having a good laugh
I also thought of a bunch more qualities we can add to the positive friendship traits list:
- Respect for similarities and differences, beliefs, and space
- Kindness, treat family, friends, and strangers
- Love and Compassion, both toward others and self
- Forgiveness, since everyone makes mistakes
- Generosity, giving with focus on others over self
- Thoughtfulness, even small gestures mean a lot
- Reciprocation, there’s give and take, more than a favor friend or convenient
- Deep connection felt, not shallow or superficial
- No guilt or pressure, not controlling or manipulative
- Happiness/Optimism, positive and cheerful
- Helpfulness, pitching in and offering effort
- Humility, being humble and not showy or arrogant
- Manners, using manners and being polite
- Patience, not pushy
- Encouragement to try something and go for it
- Good sport, plays fair and is a good loser and winner
- Team player, wants what’s best for group
- Silliness, not take everything too seriously
- Adventurousness, up for a challenge or unknown
- Playfulness, creative and imaginative
- Common interests shared together
- Individuality, not copying others, own unique way
Now, this is not a checklist, so if your close friend doesn’t match every single one of these, that doesn’t mean you should end things right now. Decide which qualities are most important to you in a friendship, and consider how you feel when you are with that friend. If it’s a positive friendship to you, that’s wonderful!
And if YOU don’t check every single one of these boxes, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad friend. If there are some qualities you’d like to develop or strengthen, make a goal to work on them (see episode 006).
Especially in this age of social media likes and followers, it’s important to understand friendship is about quality more than it is about quantity.
While having a ton of friends may seem cool, it doesn’t beat having a few solid friends with a deep connection. Someone once said,
What do you think that means? To me, it means it’s better to have a few good solid friendships with deep connection and positive qualities, than to have a bunch of friends that you don’t know much about or have weak connection. So find yourself a quarter or half-dollar kind of friend with these qualities.
I am grateful to have some dear friends in my life. Some of these friendships have lasted decades, endured big life changes, spanned across the hundreds of miles between us, and grown stronger even though we’ve been apart. I appreciate their trustworthiness and empathy, their support and encouragement, their reciprocation and their humor. They show me they love me as I am, and make me want to strengthen my own positive friendship qualities.
Shifting gears, have you ever made a cake by following a recipe? Even if you haven’t, I’m sure you’re familiar with the process: there are certain ingredients, measurements, and an explanation of how to make it.
So I created a “Friendship Cake” activity for you! First you’ll choose the “ingredients” you’d include in your Friendship Cake recipe, for example, 1 cup of common interests, a dash of silliness, a pound of trust, a gallon of kindness, etc. Next, you’ll write how to make it, like blend kindness and trust, toss with common interests, etc. And finally, you’ll design and decorate your Friendship Cake! So this activity is for you to print out, personalize, and post on your wall where you’ll see it, remember it, practice it, and believe it — that’s the important part.
There are lots of qualities that can make up a positive friendship. Which ones matter most to you?
If you’re looking for a dear friend, I hope you find one soon. And if you already have one, I hope your friendship continues for years to come. As the writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
I typically recommend some of my favorite books and movies that illustrate the topic. This time, though, I’m going to challenge you — while you read books and watch shows this week, pay attention to the characters and identify the qualities and traits they have. Think about what makes a character a good friend. Note any changes in how they were at the beginning of the story compared to the end of the story. We’ll be diving into conflicts and resolution for friendship fires soon, but for now, analyze characters in stories for their positive friendship traits.
If you have favorite books or movies to share, I’d love to hear from you! Ask your parent’s permission to share your favs by sending an email to [email protected].