“My best friend is the man who in wishing me well wishes it for my sake.” – Aristotle
That eternal truth was said by one of the greatest philosophers in the history of humankind thousands of years ago. But unfortunately today not many people remember his words and even less know what it takes to be someone’s true friend. Because although nowadays we tend to have a lot of friends, we are actually not sure how many of them are close and true?
Here is how Heidi McBain, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of Life Transitions: Personal Stories of Hope Through Life’s Most Difficult Challenges and Changes, explains the different levels of friendship we keep with others:
“Friendships can be found on a continuum with acquaintances on one side and your best friends on the other, with all different types of friendships in between,” says McBain.
However, what are the criteria for saying that someone is our best and closest friend? Is it the fact you value each other’s feelings and opinions. Or that you’ve become so close you’re crossing each other’s boundaries. And you feel comfortable to tease each other even about the most intimate details of your lives?
How do we choose our closest friends?
McBain says there are many qualities that make close friends stand out from the rest. That is true yet it’s not that easy to decide who of our friends really makes the cut so experts’ opinion might help us.
That is why below we have prepared a list of 8 types of attitudes which experts think only our best friends display:
1. Best friends are our most keen supporters
Darlene Corbett, speaker, therapist, success coach, and author of Stop Depriving The World of You: A Guide For Getting Unstuck expresses the opinion that a good friend is supportive.
“A good friend will go 150 percent to be there for you,” she tells Bustle. “Life is not always easy and fun, but a good friend will be available.”
Receiving support is one of the strongest manifestations of friendship, and supportive friends are the closest ones, as the help we receive from them is valid for all spheres of life:
“Good friends offer us various kinds of support, such as emotional support when we’re feeling insecure and information support when we need to know how to handle problems or deal with ambiguities,” Dr. Gruman says.
“This gives us the reinforcement and encouragement we need to face life’s many demands and help prop us up when needed.”
2. It’s OK being yourself with them.
Your closest friends are the ones you can be yourself with; with others, you may put up more of a front or feel more reserved.
“A good friend is someone who will unconditionally accept you as you are, but will never be afraid to tell you the unpleasant truth of a situation or your behavior,” Lisa Orban, author of It’ll Feel Better when it Quits Hurting, explains.
Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, also shares her opinion:
“A good friend is someone whom you feel you can share everything with and are not afraid to reveal your weaknesses or shortcomings,”
Corbett adds that good friends could advise you or give you their opinion but wouldn’t judge you
3. They actively listen
Тhe difference between a friend and a good friend is that the latter actively listens.
“A good friend is someone that you cannot only rely on, but that asks questions and truly listens to the answers,” Susan MacTavish Best, friendship expert and founder of Living MacTavish, explains.
Varsha Mathur, founder, dating, and relationship coach at KnowingLuxe Coaching, supports this idea too. According to her, a good would friend listen to you silently and won’t give you advice if you’re only looking for is someone to share your problems with.
4. They are emotionally available.
A good friend resembles a lot to a romantic partner as good friends are, also emotionally available, for us. They make us feel understood, accept us and value our perspectives about life. That allows us to share our experience with them and feel connected. Thus we could easily overcome loneliness and help you cope with stressful situations.
According to Dr. Gruman:
“We feel listened to and appreciated by our closes friends as opposed to ignored or dismissed.”
Of course, some of your best friends may not live close to you, but you still keep a close relationship with them.
“A good friend doesn’t have to be physically close to be emotionally present,” Backe says. “Physical closeness is a lot, but especially nowadays, there are ways of staying together even when you are far apart.”
5. They share your interests.
Usually, good friends are that close because they have many things in common. They are similar regarding preferences, opinions, and beliefs about important things. According to Dr. Gruman:
“Because our and our friends’ personalities and ideas are similar, it gives us a sense of belonging, which satisfies the fundamental human need to feel connected to others – we feel united, togetherness, and a sense of belonging.”
6. There is reciprocity in the friendship.
In any relationship, having a right balance of give-and-take is necessary. That is even truer when it comes to relationships. Good friends have the interchange, which is symbiotic. Here is what Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress, explains:
“Sometimes you carry the ball, and sometimes your friend does. If one side is doing all the giving, this relationship will tip over.”
Corbett agrees and adds.
“There are the takers and the givers in this world,” she says. “Sometimes one friend is giving far more than the other, and this is fine as long as the other party reciprocates at some point.
However, If you or only giving and your friend/s are just taking, there is probably an issue with the relationship, and there’s high chance this person is not your real friend.
7. They are always there for you.
You know that friend who is ready to get up from bed at 2 am and help come to you if you need them? That’s the definition of a best friend. A person who there for us when we need them and who makes our lives easier. Dr. Gruman explains this definition in more details:
“They lighten our load and help shoulder the inevitable hurdles, stresses, and crises life throws at us. Friends can make what seems like an insurmountable mountain into a small hill that’s easily scaled.”
Battle adds to this definition:
“A good friend is a person who will help do something for you without expecting anything in return,” he says.
8. They want only the best for you.
The closest friend is someone who always has their best interest in mind even though it could not benefit them.
McBain also shares that opinion:
“Good friends can be your biggest cheerleaders and your greatest advocates,” she says. “They can also serve as accountability buddies, keeping you focused on what’s most important at that point in your life – even during the times when you may doubt yourself and your self-worth.”
According to her, there are many different reasons to call someone a close friend.
And the most important ones are listed above.
Good friends are the ones who build you up, tell you that you are amazing but that you are wrong, and encourage you as you learn and grow throughout your life.
They are the people who accept you the way you are and make you feel comfortable in their company.