An acquaintance has a little something in common with you and merely enjoys your company for a short time. A fair-weather friend flatters you when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. A true friend, on the other hand, has your very best interests at heart and would NEVER…
1. Criticize you for being flawed.
As flawed as you might be, as out of place as you sometimes feel, and as lacking as you think you are, you don’t have to hide all the imperfect pieces of yourself from a true friend. They see your flaws as features that make you interesting and beautiful.
The quality of the happiness between two people grows in direct proportion to their acceptance, and in inverse proportion to their intolerance and expectations. True friends love and appreciate each other just the way they are.
2. Walk away when times get tough.
True friendship and good character is all about how a person nurtures another person when they are vulnerable and can give very little in return. Thus, it’s not who’s standing beside you during good times, but the ones who stick by you through tough times that are your true friends.
So take note of who remains in your life when times get tough, especially the people who sacrifice the resources they have in their life to help you improve yours when you need it most. Seriously, when you come out the other side of a difficult period in your life, look around you. The people still standing beside you are your true friends.
3. Discourage you.
Unfortunately, some who seem like your friends will try to hold you back from your full potential. It may be difficult, but don’t let these negative imposters bring you down. Don’t ever let your so-called friends turn your sky into a ceiling. Beware of friends who try to belittle your ambitions. Small hearts and minds always do that. The greatest hearts and minds – the people you should spend time around – make you feel that you, too, can become great.
Remember, encouraging things happen when you distance yourself from discouraging people. Doing so doesn’t mean you hate them, it simply means you respect yourself. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
4. Hold a grudge over your head.
Some people will refuse to accept that you are no longer who you used to be – that you’ve made mistakes in the past, learned from them, and moved beyond them. They may not be able to stand the fact that you’re growing and moving on with your life, and so they will try to drag your past to catch up with you. Do not help them by acknowledging their begrudging behavior. Let go of their negativity, find peace, and liberate yourself!
A true friend never holds the unchangeable past against you; instead, they help your repair your present and future. If someone relentlessly judges you by your past and holds it against you, you might have to take matters into your own hands, and repair your present and future by leaving them behind.
5. Lie to you.
When you keep someone in your life who is a chronic liar, and you keep giving them new chances to be trusted, you have a lot in common with this person – you’re both lying and being unfriendly to YOU.
If you know someone who avoids the truth by telling you only what you want to hear, they do so for their own benefit, not yours. They are not a true friend and they don’t deserve to be treated as such.
6. Pretend like they have all the answers.
If you think about the people who have had the greatest positive effect on your life – the ones who truly made a difference – you will likely realize that they aren’t the ones that tried to give you all the answers or solve all your problems. They’re the ones who sat silently with you when you needed a moment to think, who lent you a shoulder when you needed to cry, and who tolerated not having all the answers, but stood beside you anyway.
Don’t look for a friend who will solve all your problems; look for one who will face them with you. (Read Tuesdays with Morrie.)
7. Take from you without giving back.
You deserve to be with friends who make you smile – friends who don’t take you for granted – friends who won’t leave you hanging. When you notice that a friend is always taking from you without giving back, you might need to distance yourself from them for a while. If they care, they’ll notice. If they don’t, you know where you stand.
You should want to give, but you shouldn’t be forced to always give more than you get. If you feel like you are being taken advantage of, respect yourself enough to confront the situation. This doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends with those who you feel are at fault, but you need to evaluate your friendships and realize where to draw the line when you give yourself to certain people.
8. Bully you.
It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but just as much to stand up to your friends. Sometimes bullying comes from the most unlikely places. Be cognizant of how your friends treat you, and look out for the subtle jabs they throw. When necessary, confront them or distance yourself from them – whatever it takes to give yourself the opportunity to grow into who you really are.
Life’s too short to be hanging around people who try to control and manipulate you. Anyone who does so is not a true friend. Gain your independence by taking off the shackles and freeing yourself from these bullies. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
9. Make you feel like you’re burdening them.
True friendship is never burdened with stressful promises and obligations. What true friends do for each other should be done because they care and because they want to do them. Period.
So don’t chase people. They don’t need to be chased. If someone is a true friend and wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever force yourself on someone who continuously overlooks your worth.
A true friend who understands your tears and troubles is far more valuable than a hundred friends who only show up for your smiles and joys. Because a true friend accepts who you truly are, and also helps you become who you are capable of being.
Friendships like this require more than just finding the right person, they also require you to be the right person. When someone believes in you enough to lift you up, try not to let them down. True friendship is a sweet responsibility to be nurtured, not an opportunity to be exploited.
What would you add to the list? What’s one thing a true friend would never do? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Photo by: JDConway
Wonderful article. I guess I could add that a true friend will never hurt your feelings intentionally.
True friends are like true love — they are rare, so grasp them with your heart :-*)
I have a friend who keeps doing all these things to me. I don’t know where to start when telling them I don’t want to be around them anymore… I know she will just tell everyone that I’m mean, or not loyal, but after reading this, I’m not the problem in the friendship… I need help. No matter how I break it to her, she will just cry and get me in trouble. I can tell her that I want to restart so she can fix her mistakes(faking depression, making fun of me, telling my secrets to everyone,) but she won’t listen until I want to be her BEST friend again. Not her regular friend. Her BEST friend. What do I do?
The first and most resounding response I have for that is never keep a friendship out of fear of the consequences.
This is not about pleasing anyone else (people who you’re going to get into trouble with), it’s about self-respect.
If she is mean enough to disparage you when she is at fault, I think she’s a mean and immature person who doesn’t deserve your friendship.
I also think that she is trying to control and manipulate/coerce you(see #8) by forcing you to commit your absolute loyalty to her. “She won’t listen to me if I don’t become her best friend”.
To me, that’s insecurity and selfish behavior, she is the only one who can overcome those problems, you can only help her so much but the real effort has to be on her part to change that. Worst of all, she knows that she can because you let her.
I don’t know her, it really really sounds like she will not change her behavior until you clearly tell her that you won’t put up with her immature and nasty behavior. I think the only way to do that is by leaving her behind as you’ve already said that she refuses to listen to you.
You have turned yourself into a doormat by letting her mistreat you like this and worrying about what other people think of you. If the people you’re going to get into trouble with are also people you consider friends, they’re not your true friends either. If you can’t explain to them reasonably and maturely why you can’t be friends with this person anymore, “you know where you stand” and as this article said, the only way you will find true happiness is by letting go of the people who drag you down.
This is my opinion, I’m not telling you that it’s right or wrong, this is just my perspective gained from my own life experience. Best of luck to you and I’m sorry you have to go through that 🙁
It looks like my comment maybe way after the worries are all over, but, I’ll put in my two cents anyway. (1) Your situation frightens me and your safety should be your foremost thought no matter what you do or how you chose to handle this situation. (2) From what I know today, which I did not know 20 years ago, is that there is the law. It is unlawful for anyone to badger another person such as you describe. This kind of behavior borders on harassment, which is unlawful and you can get a court order to ensure that this person cannot continue in this manner. The negative to this choice is that an injunction against harassment is only good for one year and works both ways. That means, that you cannot initiate any contact with your friend, either, which I’m sure you won’t. (3) The Sheriff of my county gave each church member of my church his personal phone number to call him any time (and he did mean any time day or night). I use this information to convince harassers, such as you have, that I have the law on my side. Most people fear the law and will give those of us who have a direct line to the law, the much needed space that we are asking to have from them. (4) Whenever you find yourself in similar situations, start keeping notes right away. That means that you must carry pen and paper with you at all times. Record immediately: the day, time, place, who was nearby, where and how and who initiated the contact. For example, who said the first word? Never rely on standby witnesses. (5) It would be a good idea to take this information to the police and just file a report. You do not have to have a better reason than to say that you just want to have this report on file should something happen in the future. (6) Wishing you good luck is not enough. Do not rely on these good luck terms. Take care of yourself by avoiding the person as much as possible, change your phone number, go to your county court house and declare that your personal information not be given out, stress to the county clerk that your information is private and is not to be shared. This means that such webpages as CHECKMATE, PEOPLESMART, PEOPLEFINDER, TRUTHFINDER and a thousand other such places will not be able to publish any information about you or who your relations are. So, instead of telling you , “Good luck,” I urge you to start immediately—take the smart and necessary steps to protect yourself.
I’ve gone through this and I know you’re worried about getting in trouble but you have to cut your friend and all her other friends that might get you in trouble or anything like that completely out of your life. And I had a girl that did the exact same thing to me and tried to make me jealous but you have to ignore her and any of her friends that might feed into her bull shit
Meg D says
A true friend would not try to sabotage your marriage.
we never said it would !!!!
A true friend looks for ways to build you up without being asked to do so. Rare indeed.
One sad human says
9. feels so familiar. Oh, so, so familiar.
I have had many different views on what makes friendship over the years. My take on this now as a 53 year old is this. 1. Never ask a friend to do or believe in something you don’t or wouldn’t do (expect the same from them)
2. Never consider that you are better than them, better is a word that still requires definition that is agreed by all
3. Don’t sell out your own values or ethics just to remain friends…it’s a sign that you may be too different, that’s ok…just move on
4. Your friend in question should look to your feelings the same way you look to theirs…if they don’t, see answer to number 3.
OMG, this is so true. I just broke off a friendship with a family friend, actually, who wants my mom and I to be involved in all the things she’s involved with whether we like it or not, but doesn’t help us when we need it. We just asked her to help us with a special fundraiser that’s about two weeks away and instead of saying that she had other things that day that she needed to attend do, she just lied and said that she’d never heard of the organization we’re supporting, despite the fact that our church has been supporting this organization for at least the past five years.
A true friend listens to you when you say “No”. And a true friend does not cause you to attempt suicide just because she can’t be bothered to take time to listen to you or help you, even if it just means offering a shoulder to cry on.
True friends can read between the lines of what you say, know that you need them more than usual & know exactly what to say to make you smile…
A very good friendship dissolved due the stress of Hurricane Katrina. My friend just lost it and took all her anger out on me…Never let me help her-even after I had helped her during evacuation-Nothing I could do or say would help her. The pain this has caused me inside was/is still hard to accept.
Our lives have moved on…but not once has this person ever tried to contact me or apologize for her anger. I know much of the anger was due to what the storm did to her but why me?
She was lying to you the whole time. A true friend NEVER fakes it! That fakester is a narcissist!
I think a true friend will be brutally honest. They will listen and give their thoughts no matter how it makes you feel. You don’t want someone to always agree with you. You want someone that can be semi objective.
Mary Ann R. says
A true friend does not waiver. They stand with you through thick and thin, good times and bad times. They don’t begrudge your successes or hold over your head, your failures. They aren’t jealous when you have a happier, more interesting life when you work on it and they do not.
A true friend is with you in the dirt, when things get ugly and they help pull you through it and are there to hug you and love you for exactly who you are. They don’t try to purposely make you feel bad so they can feel good. They hold you UP!!
Until recently worked with someone for over 9 years I now call a frienemy. I am all too familiar with your talking points as I’ve experienced it all and then some. I’m thankful I no longer have to be around her. She’s not a nice person nor a happy person and through her friends, I discovered I she was ‘threatened by me’.
The crazy thing is that I know she ultimately cares about me and she has been there for me at times but when she can’t look past her own misery to happy for someone else, it’s simply time to walk away and never look back. Momentary kindness doesn’t excuse years of being a jerk.
A real friend will never put you last.
A true friend doesn’t exclude you, or say “sorry we already wrote a lot so you can join. ”
A true friend won’t not be friends with you because your not cool enough.
A true friend tells you everything they need to get out and trust you to not do tell anyone else, and will also do the same to you.
A true friend always forgives you no matter what.
A true friend doesn’t doesn’t use you to do things they don’t want to do because it could get you in trouble.
A true friend would not lie to your face to get to spend time with your husband.
A true friend would respect you and your girlfriend.
A friend doesn’t act like a drama queen or king. They don’t make it all about them all the time and little about you.
Wow, is that ever true!!
This article is completely synchronistic for me today!!
I was just going to your site and considering sending a note to ask for advice on a friend who recently unfriended me in life and blocked me on facebook for her perception of a situation that’s not about her and is not at all accurate. I was going to ask advice on what to do. Well, you two must be magic because – Bam! – you’ve pretty much answered it with this article. I cannot possibly tell you how much I appreciate your words of wisdom and how they continually help me.
My friend of only a few years now recently got offended about something a friend posted on facebook that had nothing to do with me or her and instead of addressing it with the person she was frustrated with, took it out on me (this is the tiniest of a nut shell version I can offer because the full story is not only long and totally confusing but also frankly baffling as well). She proclaimed out of the blue that we are no longer friends and I was shocked to say the least.
This is someone who I’ve been there for from the beginning through all her hard times. We became friends really quickly, have a lot of mutual friends now and stupidly, this is going to complicate things. It’s going to affect her more than me because I’m not going to stop what I do if a social activity comes up and she’s there. It’s been her decision to make up a problem that literally doesn’t exist and call it a reason to not be friends. My God! You’d think I had f&*^d her husband or something. Not the case, and not even close.
I’m hurt and am still baffled but there’s nothing I can do. I do tend to reach out and make peace regardless of the situation because I hate ongoing conflict. This time, the ball is squarely in her court and may stay that way. I refuse to apologize when she seems to be making up reasons to be mad at me. This actually has been an ongoing trend with her this year. This article helps me realize who my true true friends are on who I can always, without any doubt whatsoever count on – any day, any time for anything.
I suppose I have to let it go or at least give her space. I’m afraid in the meantime what her version of the story is going to be when she mentions this ‘conflict’ to our mutual friends. She tends to overly exaggerate and it worries me that she’ll cause more issues.
I’d love your feedback, if you are able to offer it. It would be much appreciated.
i can relate to you, Artchic6. I posted something that was meant to be a joke but my friend found it really offensive. I unintentionally posted a picture with a caption that she interpreted as an insult to bullied LGBT people. I never meant it, because I was also bullied before. We were bullied before, and i know that she knows that I would never ever post something that are against what we believed in. And so this post happened. I deleted it and apologized but she took it really seriously, and she unfriended me. Because of the damn post that i never thought would ruin the 3 years of our friendship. I understand if she got really hurt because she thought that I was referring to her but come one. She completely chose to forget everything that we’ve been through. She threw it away just like that. Maybe I’ll just give her space or something but it hurts., really. With just one click of the “unfriend” button, she threw everything away, including me.
I am experiencing something similar.
I recently lost my job as I was wrongfully dismissed
One of my so called friends, had some other friends in the organisation who turned on me.
She took their word as gospel and started blaming me for everything that happened (including me losing my job)
Not only that, she contacted another mutual “friend” who happened to be my former manager, and told him her version of events and persuaded him to turn against me.
Him being the pathetic coward that he is, is now refusing to be my referee despite being happy with my work
All of these are “friendship” failures
When you notice somebody is using a person who is down on their luck to do odd jobs for very little money, maybe you should think about that. Especially if said person has plenty of money. Such people are users. They are not your friend, because given the chance, they will use you as well. If you notice they want your company, but don’t offer you any input as to how time together is spent, they are not your friend. Some people are selfish. That’s what they know.
That happened to me, with a CHRISTIAN woman!! She used her “unemployment” status to get everything she wants by making ME spend lots of money on HER, when SHE won’t get a job!! As sly as she is!!
All the above is so true.
I used to think I was a good judge of character but there are some people who will go that extra mile to be so horrible…
I have learned a lot about so called friends since I became disabled from a sports injury…it is a hard lesson to learn but it has made me reach inside myself to acknowledge it was not my faults but theirs ! I will be much happier without those so called friends…and meet new ones with far better confidence and knowledge about people who mask their traits and behaviours for their personal gains…
A true friend would never force you to do something that you don’t want to. She/he would tell you what she/he thinks, but would respect your decisions.
1. A true friend would never share your personal and private conversations with others.
2. A true friend would never wrongfully accuse you of something you didn’t do.
3. A true friend would never put your friendship in danger.
4. A true friend would never be a 2-face.
5. A true friend would never cause others to go against you.
6. A true friend would accept you for who you are as a human being.
7. A true friend would always help you if you needing a helping hand.
8. A true friend will always make time for you no matter what.
9. A true friend is someone who walks in your life when the rest of the world has walks out.
I know my mother is not a friend, BUT she did 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 with me! I’d say these people are either borderline personality-ordered or narcissists!
Aiyanna Wilson says
I would add that real friends don’t call you mean names when they’re angry with you, or ask a question over and over when you ask them to stop.
A true friend doesn’t listen to an apology when you screw up and then make you jump through hoops for weeks on end and act in a passive aggressive manner in order to punish you further.
Rachel Lynn H. says
I’m guilty of asking a question over and over until I’m asked to stop and sometimes I continue. That doesn’t mean someone isn’t a good friend. I agree that a true friend would never cause others to go against you. I have dealt with 1, 2, 9, 8, 5 and 7 in my lifetime- that’s not fun. I totally think also, like Mary Ann R. said “A true friend does not waiver. They stand with you through thick and thin, good times and bad times. They don’t begrudge your successes or hold over your head, your failures. They aren’t jealous when you have a happier, more interesting life when you work on it and they do not.
A true friend is with you in the dirt, when things get ugly and they help pull you through it and are there to hug you and love you for exactly who you are”. So true.
A true friend won’t manipulate you or use sexual coercion to get what they want or progress a friendship. I admit I was weak and fearful but no friend pressures another friend to do anything they don’t want to do and was clear about it before and when they asked.
Great article and points. I would add that a true friend will also want to talk with you about misunderstandings or conflict. Like any relationship you have some turbulence from time to time. My “best” friend of several decades has a very difficult time with any type of conflict resolution. She avoids it at all costs and then is never accountable for her own hurtful actions or words. She is a master at saying it’s all me because… “I’m paranoid,” or denying any type of hurt she may have caused me. This has not happened often, but it makes me feel like I cannot even say anything without feeling worse after I talk with her. Now $hit has really hit the fan with a terminally ill member in my family…she has not been there for me. I’m so hurt at the cellular level. I know it is not healthy for me to be around this person so I am taking a time-out. It is tricky when there are so many wonderful things you shared over the years. It’s actually heart breaking. However, I am a giver and I need to protect myself during this vulnerable time in my life. I guess people change…even after 40 years of friendship.
Kathy McWorter says
A true friend will still be a true friend even if their significant other does not like you. They won’t let other people’s opinnions get in between your friendship, or change it, even if it’s a lot easier in them. Because they have integrity and they think for themselves.
Very nice points…
Sandra Keros says
All excellent points. Since you asked, I would add someone who no longer views you as their priority, i.e., they see you for Sunday brunch vs. Friday or Saturday night, or if you see them on Friday night, they have plans to meet someone else afterwards and you’re not invited. And when they once made an offer to help you out with a major situation, like moving because you’ve run out of money, instead, they ignore the obviousness of how busy you are and your financial situation to suggest going away on a weekend trip, without thinking of what you’re going through. Otherwise, being inconsiderate of your time, your situation, then being clueless and defensive or indifferent about it.
This is nice article. I have a friend who tells other people about the stuffs that I really don’t want her share with others. I know she is nice friend but then I want some space and my privacy. She shouldn’t tell others about my personal life.
Phylis Forsyth says
A true friend, who knows I am a sensitive person, will not tear me apart when she is angry and doesn’t know the whole story behind the relatively minor “offense” of explaining help that I offered. This person wrongly assumed she knew the whole story and criticized me for feeling very hurt by her extremely critical comments. This has happened twice in 2 weeks, different offenses (one being taking 5 minutes too long to check out at the grocery store).