To find a true friend, you must also be a true friend. Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Thus, this could also be interpreted as “be the friend you want to have.” I have found that for the most part, I attract friends whose lives and characters reflect or “mirror” my own life. I don’t feel I have to change to be what other people want me to be. There are many people in the world who are compatible friends with me, but of course, not all of them will be considered true and lasting. Some people will enter my life for only a short time and then disappear, and I expect this now. The true friend is one that truly wants to be a part of my life for the long term.
Today I will share some of my thoughts about what a true friend should be and how you, too, can become a much better friend to those with whom you truly care.
True friends must trust each other. Trust is absolutely a must in any relationship. Sometimes you need a special person with whom to share a secret or a problem you are encountering. Real friends always keep your secrets no matter what and try to help you if it is a secret that could cause harm to you in some way. They also try to be there at all times when you are facing a major problem or crisis in your life. They will never desert you. They can usually even sense you have a problem before you even share it with them because they can sometimes understand your silence.
True friends are committed to seeing you happy. They will put your happiness before your friendship. If they see you headed in a wrong direction in your life, they will not hesitate to tell you this even though it may be something that you may not want to hear or something that could damage or ultimately hurt your friendship. They put your welfare or best interests first.
True friends never ask you to do something that is against your moral values or principles. They respect you and inspire you to be the best you can be. They desire to be a good influence on your life—not a negative one. Generally though, a true friend will share the same values you do. It is very difficult to maintain friendships if your values are too divergent or different.
True friends respect your individuality and your opinions even if they are different from theirs. True friends will not belittle your views or harass you to change your mind. True friends will not leave you because of differences of philosophies or ideals. Some topics like religion and politics can be sources of problems though and maybe should be avoided for the most part in my opinion. I now refuse to discuss these with friends in person or online when I know there will be possible controversy. Most of my true friends now respect my wishes to avoid this dialogue.
True friends will help you at times when you need a huge favor. However, if you are a true friend, you should not inconvenience these friends to extremes, and if the favor is one that is unreasonable or impossible to do, accept this and not hold a grudge. Always be careful not to abuse special favors that your friends are willing to complete for you.
True friends are not opportunists. True friends do not take advantage of you and expect to gain something in return because they helped you with something with which you needed assistance. True friends will support you even if the whole world opposes you.
True friends will always try to find time to be with you even if it is just for a short time. They will not make you have to fight for a spot in their lives. If you have to force them to find time with you, then they are not true friends.
True friends will also offer freedom when you need it. They will give you the space you need when you need it and let you breathe. When you are done with your needed solitude, they will still be there if they truly care about you.
True friends accept you the way you are. They know your good points and your bad. They do not try to change you unless if for a reason that is detrimental to your health. They love you no matter what.
True friends are willing to compromise. When you have a disagreement with them, they are willing to find a solution that works best for everyone.
True friends listen and hear every word you say. They do not offer advice unless it is requested or needed by you. Often just being there and listening quietly is all you need from true friends.
True friends maintain realistic expectations about your friendship. They realize that no one is happy all of the time. They accept your sad moments as well as your happy ones and try to support you in all situations.
As I grow older, I now also realize that it is less important to have more friends and more important to have real and true friends. Life is kind of like a party. You invite many people to come into your life; some leave early, and some stay the entire night. Some will laugh at you or make fun of you. Some will show up really late. But at the end of the party, a few friends will stay to help you clean up the mess. These are your true friends and the ones who really matter in your life. These are the ones to hold onto and to embrace for a lifetime if possible.