The 12 Secrets of Truly Great Friends
Unless you've found a way to cut off communication with all of human life, you're going to have to live peaceably with people whether you like them or not. Human interaction takes up 99.9% of our lives. We're born and raised by humans. We go to a human doctor, work with humans, marry humans, give birth to humans, and are buried/cremated by humans. And those words you see up on the Internet? Yeah, humans were responsible for those. Even in the sphere of technology, you still have to put up with us. We're likely not going to be extinct any time soon.
So if you want to live life to the fullest, you need to learn how to make and keep friends. Friends are there to laugh with you, celebrate with you, cry with you, and share opinions with you. They make life bearable, and they show us different aspects of the world that we wouldn't see on our own. In order to make and keep friends, we should strive to be the kind of friends we want. And I'm here to give twelve tips for how to do so.
1. Offer advice and opinions when they ask for them.
It's natural and healthy for people to bounce ideas off of each other in order to create one big idea or to see how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. If they need help on something they're working on, take a look at it with them and see what you can do.
2. Forgive them when they hurt you.
Human beings aren't going to be perfect all of the time and as a result, two people are going to let each other down at some point or another. The word 'forgive' goes in two directions. For the person being forgiven, it means that they get another chance and you're not going to hold them responsible for their actions. For the forgiver, it means that you're giving yourself a chance to stop being angry, upset, or hurt by what they did. If you can't forgive others, then they can't forgive you.
3. Give them more than what they ask for.
If they want a cookie, give them two. If they're stressed, give them stress balls. If they want to walk a mile with you, walk with them for two. If they want to talk to you, stop what you're doing and give them your undivided attention.
4. Don't be a supplier.
In this case, a supplier is someone who's happy to help people out as long as he gets what he wants in return. Using people isn't just damaging to them; it also hurts you in the long run. Ask for little and expect less. At the same time, offer what you can and don't expect anything in return.
5. Be honest.
Nothing injures trust more than a lie. If you lie and get caught—and chances are, you will in the long run—how can you expect them to trust you? Tell them how you feel, show them who you are, etc. Being fake equals being friendless. Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean. Give them the true story the first time.
6. If your friend needs space, give it to them.
You don't need to be together all the time (and that goes for every relationship). Even in a relationship that hasn't had any problems so far, people sometimes need a little respite from each other in order to keep it that way. You might have other friends to spend time with, and odds are, they will too. And by the way, those long, silent pauses in conversations? Nothing to be afraid of, people. It's just a void of speech. It won't hurt you.
7. Stay in touch.
Whether you're graduating, getting married, or moving away, the friends you want to keep are friends you talk to continually in any way you can. If you have to be pen pals in order to stay in touch, then so be it. Don't keep them waiting. Make the first move to say “I want to continue being your friend, if that's okay with you.”
8. Be loyal.
Defend them when they need it. When they tell you something in confidence, it stays in confidence. If you can't say it to their face, then don't say it behind their backs. Let them know you're on their side.
9. Be someone you'd want to depend on.
If your friend asks you to do something, do it—unless they ask you to do something wrong. If you make a promise, stick to it. If you borrow something of theirs, return it. If you break something of theirs, fix it or replace it. If you borrow money from them, pay them back as soon as you are able.
10. Apologize if you hurt their feelings.
It's normal to get angry and say something you don't mean. But what defines a good friend from a bad one is the moment where you realize what you've done and say to the other person “I hurt your feelings, and I'm really sorry I did that.”
11. Make sure they're okay.
Life has its moments of making people feel awful. When that happens, make sure they know you're there for them. Ask them how they're doing—and mean it. Spend time with them; reschedule your day if you have to. Be able to recognize when something's wrong. Make them feel valuable, appreciated, and cared for.
12. Under every circumstance, ask the question “What can I do?”
Ask your parents. Ask your teachers. Ask your classmates. Ask your employer. Ask your co-workers. Ask your roommates. Ask your friends. This question says that you care and that you're offering whatever you're capable of. It points to a quality of selflessness that we want to see in others and the level of selflessness defines the strength of a friend.