Are you a good friend?

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
– C.S. Lewis

Are you a good friend? The type of person that others turn to in a crisis or when they have good news to share?
Or are you nowhere to be seen when the smelly stuff hits the fan and the truth is you ever so slightly resent your friends’ successes?

We’ve written lots about friendship in the past, including about the Pink Peppers, a group of women who were drawn together after all going through the emotional turmoil of divorce. It’s that kind of common experience that can bind people together for life.

In recognition of July 30’s World Friendship Day we’ve compiled our top thoughts on what to avoid doing if you want to remain friends – and, more positively, the actions that will show others you really are there for them.



Five traits that say you’re not the friend you claim to be

You don’t listen to what your friends have to say

The pause in their talking isn’t necessarily a signal for you to launch in with a completely irrelevant story of which you are the hero/victim. Similarly, appearing to listen but really just counting down the seconds to talk about what you want isn’t that great either. The worse aspect of this is asking a question and jumping in halfway through the answer without even listening to what’s been said.

You only spend time with your friend when you need something

That’s a bit of a one-sided relationship isn’t it? If you’re the sort of person who’s only in touch when they need help or advice then over time that’s how people will come to think of you. Do you ever text, call or meet with friends just to see how they’re doing or because you haven’t seen them much recently and wonder how they’re doing?

You constantly find fault

Yes, other people have some annoying habits that after a while can grate on your nerves. But no one’s perfect and do you really think that doesn’t happen in reverse? And, in a similar vein, no one person is right all the time. Just because someone’s world view doesn’t chime with yours 100% of the time doesn’t mean you’re the one who’s in the right.

You have the need to be one up on them

You might on the surface appear to be friendly or concerned but all you really want to show is that you’re better/richer/more popular/more successful/cleverer than the other person. Don’t downplay others’ achievements, or take them as a sign that they need to be trumped with your latest success. Friendship groups should be safe places for us to unwind, not feel like someone is always trying to show off.

You never stick to your word

Do you make commitments with friends only for them to be dismissed as soon as something better or more excited comes along? There’s nothing that shows you don’t care about another person’s feelings more than the blatant disregard of following through on what you said you’d do. If you find yourself repeatedly explaining why you didn’t do as you said you would then maybe it’s time to have a look at whether you are honouring – or just paying lip-service to – that friendship.



If you can honestly answer yes to the five characteristics below, then you’re a true friend. Similarly, is this how others treat you?

Go the extra mile when help is needed

It’s a real compliment when someone asks for your help. Many people prefer to keep their problems or issues quiet and find a solution themselves. When someone opens up and asks for assistance that’s a sign they value you and your opinion. Show them the feeling is reciprocated by putting in as much effort as if it were your own issue that needed solving.

Be visible in their darkest hours

We all go through tough times. And when we are it can be a great comfort to know that we have someone in our corner, who’s going to continue backing us no matter how sticky things get. Many people tend to cut themselves off when times are trying, so it may take persistence to get through that protective shell but that’s what friends do.

Be honest

While it’s nice to have a cheerleader, there’s a difference between someone who will tell you you’re the greatest whatever it is you do and someone who you trust to tell you honestly when you’re making a prat of yourself. A friend may be a person who’ll buy you a drink at the bar. But they can also be the person to say no when you’ve had one too many.

Say yes often

Saying no can become a bit of a habit. We’ve got a lot going on in our lives and it would be easier not to commit to meeting up or doing the things that made you friends in the first place. But if you really haven’t got time for friends in your life, what does that say about your priorities? Life’s more interesting when you say yes, make that a habit instead!

Make the effort to keep in touch

Similar to above, it may be true that our lives are busier than ever and it’s a battle constantly juggling competing priorities. But it’s also true that it’s never been easier to keep in touch with those we call friends. Phone, text, social media message. No one expects a blow by blow account of life but just a simple message to keep lines of communication open can go a long way. You never know when one of you may be desperately in need of that friendship.