“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 be 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 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?
Friends hugging image via Shutterstock