One of the most important relationships in your life will be with your best friend. Some people have that one special person, others have a small group of close confidants, but however it works for you, the value of friendship is immense. A good friend will be there to support you no matter what, to share all of life’s ups and downs and be ready with a hug, a box of tissues or a glass of celebratory bubbly. True friends can make a huge difference to the quality of your life, and their presence can have positive effects on your mental wellbeing.
What is a true friend?
You may have a lot of people in your life you think of as friends, but how many of them would you be sure would have your back no matter what the situation? A true friend doesn’t judge, or give their affection with strings attached. They won’t ditch you for a better prospect or limit the extent of their support and understanding. You and your best friend will have a very special bond, and if you feel like you would walk over a bed of hot coals to aid your friend then you know they are special. If you have a look online, you will find thousands of sayings and quotes about the meaning of true friendship, and if you feel that these sayings sum up your relationship, then you know you have a true friend.
What true friends will do for you
They’ll be honest! Your broader circle of friends and acquaintances are more likely to tell you what you what they think you want to hear – yes, you look lovely in that dress, or no, it won’t matter if you miss the gym today. A true friend will have your best interests at heart and will tell you what they genuinely believe – the dress doesn’t really flatter your shape, or will you feel better for missing the gym? One of the facets of true friendship is the ability to say no, as well. You may feel obliged to do something you don’t really want to for your acquaintances, but with your friend you can feel comfortable saying you don’t want to do it. They won’t be offended, they will understand you and respect your feelings. They will know that if it were an emergency, you would drop everything for them, as they would for you, so being honest with each other day to day doesn’t feel so hard.
What you can do as a true friend
Know your friend and understand their desires. Do what you know they will want rather than what you think would be best. If you’re throwing a hen party for your best friend, think about what kind of thing they would like to do. If they are shy and like a quiet life, don’t force them to have a wild, drunken night out just because you think they should let their hair down before getting married. On the other hand, if they love letting their wild side out, don’t book a weekend at a country retreat because it’s the sensible thing to do as mature adults. Of course, you also need to look out for your friend, and don’t let them get into trouble. If they’ve had a few drinks, don’t get so inebriated yourself that you’re incapable of making sure they’re ok!
Being there through good times and bad
There have been clinical studies undertaken that demonstrate the value of friendship in supporting people’s wellbeing. Having someone to whom you can confide anything and everything is an important release valve for stress and anxiety, and talking things through with someone who is sympathetic, trustworthy and non-judgmental is a wonderful form of therapy. A true friend will be partying with you at your wedding and be there to celebrate your achievements with you, but they will also stand by you when times are tough. A true friend will support you when you are ill, take you in when you’re in need, and be there to help you get through difficult experiences and situations like bereavement or drug addiction treatment. Not all friends are made equal, and some people you consider to be friends are fine for a chat and a laugh, but couldn’t be relied upon to be there for you come what may.
Don’t take your friend for granted
If you do have a close friend with whom you have this special relationship, there is a danger you may slip into the habit of becoming over-reliant on them. You may not mean to, but if you know they will always help out, you may call on them a little too much, because you feel they are the one person who won’t let you down. Friendship is about give and take, an equal measure of support and respect for each other, so don’t start putting too much on your friend and taking their love and desire to help you for granted. If they start taking advantage of you, you need to be honest and say you don’t feel the situation is fair. A true friend will understand, and very likely be horrified when they realise they’ve been asking a bit much of you.
Treasure your friendship
If you have a special friend, make the most of your time together and don’t slip out of touch because life gets in the way. You may have to move away from your friend, but staying in touch is pretty easy with modern communication systems, so emails and texts and having some video chats are simple ways to stay in contact. It’s a wonderful experience having a special friend, and so valuable to your wellbeing and the quality of your life.
Amongst all your friends and acquaintances, the special one or few who are your true friends will enrich your life, make you happy and can be relied upon to believe your happiness and welfare are as important as their own. Be joyful in your celebration of friendship, and you and your friend will maintain that special bond for life.