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25 Ways to Be a True Friend

“Don’t wait for people to be friendly. Show them how.” ~Unknown

The other night I called an old friend I hadn’t talked to in a while. As we caught up, shared stories, and laughed over private jokes that would sound ridiculous had the phone been tapped, I wondered why I let so much time go by since I’d last given her a call.

We don’t live close to each other, so grabbing a drink or hitting up a yoga class isn’t an option. But really connecting with her, sharing pieces of my life, and receiving the pieces she wants to give doesn’t require specific geography.

We can be great friends to each other, despite the distance, if we choose to make the effort. If we remember to make the time, we can have those types of meaningful, fulfilling conversations that make us feel seen, understood, appreciated, and supported.

Then I started to think about all the times when I’ve gotten busy and lost touch with friends who live right down the street—times when I got caught up in everything going on in my life and forgot to nurture my relationships.

We need meaningful connections with other people.

Not everyone has to be a close friend, but it’s integral to our happiness that we show people who we truly are, allow ourselves to know them in return, and then remind each other through actions—small or large—that we care.

We never need to be or feel alone in this world, but it’s up to us to create and allow opportunities to be together, enjoy each other, and be there for each other. It’s up to us to make our relationships priorities.

With this in mind, I recently asked on Facebook, “What does it mean to be a true friend?”

I compiled some of the ideas that resonated strongly with me (some of them paraphrased or slightly altered for ease of reading).

Here’s what Tiny Buddha readers had to say:

1. Always be there, even in silence. (Nerrisa Nam)

2. Be kind and listen. Be fun and light. Be serious when needed, love extensively, and forgive always. (Sandra Lumb)

3. Don’t be scared to tell each other the truth no matter how difficult it may be. (Eva Valencia)

4. Guide each other in times of need with your honest opinions. (Ashna Singh)

5. A true friend is someone who always listens and is genuinely interested in the good and bad, and someone who calls or writes just to say hello. (Kimberly McCarthy)

6. Be loyal in confidence and character, always open and inviting to share concerns, always honest even if you disagree. (Peggy Turner Beatty)

7. A true friend tries his best to cheer you up when you are upset and makes you feel special. (Kalpana Tewani)

8. Try and improve their life though your friendship. (Barry Cassidy)

9. Be who you truly are—be that vulnerable–and provide the other person the space, safety and choice to do the same. (Cynthia Ruprecht Hunt)

10. Be genuinely happy when they get, receive, or achieve something you truly desire. (Heather Tucker)

11. Share the truth in your heart, without the fear of misunderstandings. (Ricardo Marques)

12. Be loyal and forgive but above all: love and respect. (Casey Jo Wagner)

13. Accept the person as they are, as an individual, without conditions. Also, as important as it is for you to be there for them, sometimes you have to be willing to let them be there for you. (Casey Kimes)

14. Remain friends despite a person’s choices in life and don’t bail on them when they aren’t who you want them to be. (Kim Shaw)

15. A true friend always supports the person but doesn’t feel compelled to support the situation. A true friend knows how and when to say the firm, “No.” (Leslie Mollay)

16. Help yourself and those closest to you grow. To live means to grow, and a true friend is someone that you can honestly say has helped define you as an individual. (Kevin Ball)

17. Celebrate the wins and being there to support the losses. Keep your word and acknowledge it when you don’t. (Margalit Ward)

18. Walk in to a friend’s aid when others are walking out. (Larry Stilts)

19. Don’t hold grudges over petty disagreements. (Annika de Korte)

20. Show up! You can pretend to care but you cannot pretend to show up. (Sherri Levy)

21. A true friend is someone you feel as comfortable with as you do when you are by yourself. No illusions, no holding back. (Liz McConomy)

22. Be there for the other person in the same way you would be there for yourself. Granted, if you can’t be there for yourself, that’s probably something you should address first. (Elizabeth McDaniels)

23. Don’t let your own stuff get in the way. The ego is powerful. (Sabrina Toffey)

24. Know someone’s least admirable characteristics and still love and support them. (Talia Startsman)

And I’ll add the last: share how honest appreciation every chance you get.

I don’t know all of you, but I’ve gotten to know quite a few. To all the beautiful, inspiring people who come here and share pieces of themselves, thank you for being you and for taking me, just as I am.

Do you have anything to add to the list?

Photo by deneers

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha Founder Lori Deschene is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook seriesTiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself, and Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life's Hard Questions. She's also co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an eCourse that helps you change your life. For inspiring posts and wisdom quotes, follow on Twitter & Facebook.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Aaiat

    Thanks alot Lori for the post, this came at just the right time! :)
    On another note, I am a big fan of Tiny Buddha so thanks alot for putting in all of the effort to make our day:) Xx

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you for your kind comment. =) I love running Tiny Buddha, and I’m so glad you enjoy it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/arlene.c.appelrouth Arlene Caplan Appelrouth

    A friend is someone who accepts you as you are, but also invites you to grow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arlene.c.appelrouth Arlene Caplan Appelrouth

    A friend is someone who accepts you as you are, and also invites you to grow.

  • Brianneburrowes

    I love this, Lori. You are a wonderful friend. I can’t wait to see you again! xo

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Likewise Brianne! I hope you are doing alright. I’ve been thinking of you!

  • http://creativechai.com Dave Rowley

    Wonderful post. I loved so many of these, especially: ‘Walk in to a friend’s aid when others are walking out.’

    For me a true friend is someone who, when I’m with them, really sees me, really hears me.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I loved that one, as well. I also loved, “A true friend supports the person but doesn’t feel compelled to support the situation.” What a great distinction! Thank you for reading. =)

  • http://big-zen.blogspot.com/ Big Zen

    There are some really nice points here. I would add, a friend is like a mirror. Someone in whom you can see your own reflection complete with weaknesses and strengths, flaws and beauty. A mirror doesn’t judge, it simply reflects.

  • Shellyparadise

    Thanks Lori and Tiny Buddha! I do really feel a true friend is one you can completely relax with and let your guard down and offer that as well. I have found that in later life that friends can come from all walks of life and have many guises but you will know one when you see one that’s for sure.

  • erin

    this photo just tickles me…I love it.

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  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! I’ve always loved making friends of different ages. I did theater growing up, so I always spent time around adults from all different backgrounds. Thanks for reading and commenting. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Beautiful =)

  • mara

    be the friend you want to have :)

  • Chuarwizard

    I think that a friend not only can share few moments whit you, a truely friend can understand that sometimes you need a space whitout matters or prejudices

  • Angela

    A true friend understands that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be extremely good, so when times are not exactly as you wish you find the moments of goodness!

  • Lindsay Hoffman

    I really enjoyed this post, especially the quote. It ties everything together. You shouldn’t always wait for someone to be friendly to you. You must put out what you want to receive in return.
    To many times we sit and get wrapped up in our lives and forget to keep in touch with important people in our lives. It is so important to reach out to others and to take a break from our busy days just to say, “how’s your day?”
    I also like the fact that the 25 ways are influenced by what the public thinks. I think that their perspective is spot on and its nice to have a quick list to remind me easy tips to be a better friend.
    This post really inspires me to get up and take a few minutes out of my day to show my loved ones how much I care.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks for reading and commenting! I’m so glad this post inspired you to reach out to the people you love. Whenever I make the time to do this, it makes a big difference in my day. I love when people call me just to let me know they were thinking of me, and feels great to take the initiative to reach out to them in the same way. =)

  • MJ

    WELL SAID!!!

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  • Ve

    Good list. Whilst I ascribe to lots of the tips, to 1. Be there & 20. Show up have been hard since becoming a mother and I do feel I’m failing sometimes because of it.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there,

    I don’t know your exact situation, but I’m pretty confident I can say that you’re not failing! I have a lot of friends who are new mothers, and as their friend, I understand they have a new set of responsibilities and they’re adjusting/trying to find a balance. Just the fact that you care to “show up” for your friends tells me you’re a really good friend to have. =)

    Lori

  • yamada

    If it’s difficult to find a true friend, just be a true friend.. :)

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  • Lv2terp

    FANTASTIC!!! I love all the wisdom/tips you get from people!! Thank you for sharing them, and for this amazing site! :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the site! =)

  • http://twitter.com/ashloner Ashley loner

    Thanks for having this Tiny Buddha. It really helps me to think differently when I am having a major spiritual awakening = breakdown. However, I wish that my friend who introduce me to this site will also feels better. I am still praying for her to get well soon especially she is having her final exam. Continue the great  job. ^^

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Ashley. I hope your friend gets well soon!

  • Calista

    A true friend will not lead you to do bad things, there’s a Buddhist saying for children ‘Stay far away from bad companies/people’. Don’t get influenced by them. As you grow older, you’ll eventually find who your true good friends are. But remember, you yourself should stay the way how you want others to be!

  • eunice

    I really enjoyed this because I am doing a project at school which is called how to be a good friend

  • Rachel

    My friend laughs at me when my bullies call me names and say things to me she thinks it’s funny even when I cried she went with them and if I wanted her over to my house shed come over

  • justb

    #9 is the hardest for me. I have a handful if truly close friends that I support and love and would do anything for, except #9. I do have one that I let all defenses down with and it is a wonderful yet scary thing to trust someone that much.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I know what you mean. That one is tough for me at times too. it takes me a while to feel fully comfortable around new people.

  • Preethi

    I Really Lucky to Get Karthick As My Friend.He More To All In My Life.Thanks You And Hats Of You…In My Next Life I Need This Same Friendship…..

  • Karthick Krish

    very happy to see ur post preethi…..:-) wat more can i ask for i ve got so much of love from you..ur always my special frnd….love u a lot dear.evn i wnt dis frndship forever:-)

  • Caitlin walker

    Cool quotes these will help a lot so I can be a true friend… :)

  • Ozzie

    I agree too.

  • Gizmo

    Every where i go people bully me call me names etc. i just want to be good at something anything everyone just is a giant bully to me i just do nothing to them i wish i could be worth something.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through Gizmo. In what situations/ways do people bully you?

  • amitbhatia

    Great points of firendship :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Preethi

    Hi Lucky i ur Sweety,All the best for ur Future Life,I miss alot dont forget me in ur Future bye Lucky

  • Gizmo

    Racism and shoves into lockers

  • Preethi

    I Need
    my First Son Till My Last Breath I Love My First Son So
    Much More Then My Life..Love You Lucky

  • Karthick

    Now i am back with my praci as always i am very happy now :-) past present and future i will never forget my sweetheart :-) love u di :-)

  • dollparts

    I wonder what it’s like having friends…

  • LOLITA

    I recently told a guy that I liked him and he told me at the end of the message but you are a good person and a great friend. How can prove him that I am his friend?

  • decrease01

    Great list! Thank you for sharing. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that having great friends usually requires that we first be a great friend. What a wonderful reminder!

  • dr.awesome

    im gonna try some of these to see if im a better friend

  • alex peter

    The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend.” 

  • Dude68

    Watch out and read up on the narcissist ,it will benifit you on choosing friends to hang with.

  • Perplexed

    But I’ve been a true friend, and when I nearly died last year, I was shocked by the people who WEREN’T there for me. Now that I’m better, they’re all trying to worm their way back in. How can I move past the hurt? I’ve been there for all of them, and while I’m grateful to the ones who stuck by me, I can’t get over the ones who didn’t. I’m still having a hard time accepting that what I thought were true friends turned out to be fair weather friends. These “friendships” are forever changed. Their sad attempts at friendship now after abandoning me in my time of need . . . in my mind, I’ve already bailed.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so sorry to hear about what you’ve been through. I know this may seem like an obvious question, but have you asked these friends outright why they weren’t there for you? Perhaps opening the lines of communication will help you understand, empathize, and ultimately forgive (or decide which friendships aren’t worth maintaining).

  • Perplexed

    Thank you for your reply. The lines of communication were open as we resumed for a little while afterwards as if nothing had changed. What would be the point of asking why? Ultimately, actions trump words. No lame excuse would have made me feel better about the countless hours I spent with them treating their problems as my own. I knew from talking to them that there had been nothing unusual or pressing in their lives that prevented them from doing the same for me. They were simply too far up their own asses, so they weren’t capable of giving more of themselves. I wasted my awesomeness on them. I know that now.

    If anything, surviving that horrendous time taught me that life’s second chance deserves better than what I settled for in the past.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. I suppose that’s the silver lining of going through a hard time and finding out that certain friends aren’t there for you–it helps you learn which friendships just aren’t worth maintaining, which then gives you space in your life to connect with other people you can depend on.

  • laura-anne smith

    Hey my name is laura I have a best friend and her name is demi she is like a sister 2 me I love her 2 bits and I have always been there for her even when I can’t she knows that I’m there for her when good and bad times are among us were always together for good and bad , thanks lori deschene for yuor advice

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! Sounds like you have a wonderful friend. =)

  • thedarkone

    its pity your problem. don’t pity yourself and respect the fact that they did not pity you. do you really want them to feel as low as you when you are down? no! thats typical fake spiritual egoism. if your heart is big enaught you dont need their aprooval or acceptance, you wont care, if you had any true understanding of what you think you believe…. go live alone on a mountain and dont pitty the world and loose that fake spirituality, its a medicine for the sick, anti egoism for the egoist, now go cry a river, shiva the destroyer wont pitty you

  • charismatic perks

    a true friend is one who makes u a better person

  • Prince Amu

    True friend is everything….

  • pratik

    a real friend is give u a happynes and he knows everything about you and she always stay with you..in any condition in happy movement and in bad time..:)

  • Cherie

    Try to be the sort of friend you would want as a best friend.

  • marriam

    hi , i am so sorry to hear that !!

  • marriam

    you are so carrecet !!!

  • Jamiah

    this is kinda good it help me all at

  • Jamiah

    hi

  • rachush

    I love my gf but, she says she likes me alot…what is she trying to say??is it tat she wants us to remain frens…is it tat she is finding it difficult to accept tat she is in love??

  • http://www.projectfellowship.com/ Andrew Burgon

    Good friends are those who want to have a relationship with you. Friends who desire and seek out your company. They are noted for their enthusiasm, initiative, warmth and the genuine interest they show in you. They have a real presence in your life.

  • Cecilly

    A true friend listens, asks questions and reiterates. I recently moved four hours away from where I grew up and whenever I talk to a specific friend she doesn’t once ask me about how I am doing. It is 100% about her or she becomes disinterested and we hang up the phone. She had no idea I got a cat or that I had to painfully put that cat down three months later due to a fatal virus, yet I know just about everything about her relationship with a new boyfriend, because I care. A true friend, first and foremost, shows interest in you. A true friendship is never one sided.

  • vedi

    Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future… true friends stay with you through thick and thin, accompanying you on your journey of life, helping you learn who you really are. Keep in mind, only true friends do that.

  • friendly

    I have this friend, that I have been a true friend to. I know a alot of things most people dont know about her because i care enough to ask bout what’s been going on, or making her feel better when she’s sad. But the thing is, i’m the one who always starts the conversations whether it’s virtually, or in person. There are times when we will be sitting next to each other, or around each other for hours and she wont even say hi to me. i dont know what to do about it. She is one of my closest friends and I really dont want to lose that friendship, but at the same time, I dont want to put up with that anymore. What should I do???

  • Violet Tigress

    Why did your friend never call you?

  • Mjones

    A friend is someone who you enjoy for who they are and someone who enjoys you for who you are. In this way there is no struggle in being supportive. It is as easy as breathing. A true friend is someone you want to spend time with because they spark you, challenge you, teach you, be with you and you with them. This does not happen easily or often in life and is a great treasure.

  • MS.JAMES

    I had a friend that I met back in 2009. I moved about a year after moving, but her and I always stayed in touch. When i moved back, she let me stay with her when I had nowhere to go. It was fantastic. We got along great and always had girl talks, good times, etc. Eventually her brother moved in and all 3 of us grew very close. Nothing and no one could tear us apart, but then my friend began dating this married guy that had two kids-which of course made me and her brother feel a little wierd bc we cared for her so much and we didnt want him to hurt her in the end. Things seemed “okay” in the beginning (with him coming down to visit often), but then he started slowly but surely moving all his stuff in. Eventually he was “all moved in”. He came off as if he wanted her all to himself. She stopped hanging out as much, talking and communicating was never the same, she cancelled plans last minute just to be with him, etc.. Her brother and I told her how we felt and she said she was sorry, felt bad, all that stuff, but it still was so awkward around the house. Her “guy” walked around he house as if he had some type of tension towards me and i think it was bc he was mad at the fact that i really didnt like that fact that she was married and i didnt respect him that much. It was as if he was using her. So him and I were never really that fond of one another-which only put more tension in the house. One day at her (my friend’s) birthday party, my friend and her sister went into the back room whenever him (her guy) and his friend were in the kitchen talking LOUDLY in 3rd person towards me about “me supposedly not liking him” . It was as if it was something he had been wanting to say to me. Mind you, he was talking over a crowd of people and a lot of loud music so it was obvious he wanted me to hear him. I grew really pissed off bc at this point i was tired of him and his ways. So the next day i confronted him (my friend and her brother were there) and we talked about it , but of course he denied it all and it was never brought up again after that-not even between me and my friend. After that, i begin looking for a new place to stay bc i knew it would only get worse from that point. I found me somewhere to stay and i left about a month after that. I still worked in that city so on days i had to work i would commute back and forth and would sometimes stay at her house, but communication was different and she didnt act the same. After one last time of me staying over there-it felt so different between us so i decided to never go back over there, but i still kept in touch through texting and calling, but she would never respond. I was so hurt bc i thought we were way better than that so i called myself “testing our friendship” -and after about a month- i deleted her and her family off of facebook and just wanted them out of my lives (i obviously dont deal with pain and rejection well). I wanted to see if she would reach back out to me, but she never did. A year went by and still…NOTHING FROM HER. So oneday I was thinking about her and tried to reconcile with her by calling, texting, & facebooking her-letting her know how i felt about it all & i never got a response. Even her brother tried, but still she refused to talk to me. So about 5 months after trying to reach out to her i ended up sending her another message saying that she was never really a friend to begin with if she couldnt at least respond to me saying something, i said too that , i wish i would have never reach out saying SORRY or any of that,etc…but it was all said out of anger and guilt ..i actually really do miss my friend so much and just wish we could talk. This whole thing has been painul and i have learned alot, but at the same time-i kinda felt she didnt handle things right. I kinda feel that -in some ways- we were both wrong. HELP ME PLEASE. WHERE DID I GO WRONG? SHOULD I LET HER BE? WHAT ELSE SHOULD I DO? HOW DO YOU THINK SHE IS FEELING,ETC… I NEVER WANTED TO COME OFF AS A FAKE FRIEND OR ANYTHING-I WAS JUST REALLY HURT AND OVER HER GUY. ..NOT TO MENTION I HAD ALOT GOING ON IN MY LIFE AT THAT TIME. I MISS MY FRIEND! SHE WAS SO DEAR TO ME! ANSWERS PLEASE…

  • roseann

    very good well done <3