Exploring the qualities of a true friend
What is a true friend?
I met a woman the other night who said to me, “I have many acquaintances, but have only one true friend.” I must say she spoke regretfully of the fact that she only shared one good friend. I thought of how lucky she was to have even one friend when some people long for a true friend. We are indeed fortunate if we can consider someone to be a true friend.
What a true friend provides
Finding a true friend is like selecting that person in your family who really accepts who you are in your totality. Many times our families have a very encapsulated and constricted views of who we are based on their own unfulfilled wishes or projections. Many psychiatrists or psychologists will tell you of the countless people who visit them because their families have considered them unacceptable in some way. These families unfortunately have projected their disappointment on their children in such a manner that the children can feel unworthy and unloved for the rest of their lives. It is truly tragic that no matter how much we have persevered, our families continue to see us in a very small way, unaware of the person we strive to become or perhaps have already become.
Personal experience with a true friend
This is one of the reasons it is so valuable to meet someone who sees us through eyes of not only acceptance, but also admiration. I personally have been fortunate to have a true friend who has not been unaware of my flaws, but still continues to see me in the best way possible. In my darkest moments and times of self-criticism, she has been quick to point out to me the qualities she herself has admired and appreciated in me. I am truly graceful for her acceptance and love. It’s as if she holds a snapshot or picture of me that never changes no matter what negative presentations I might present in the moment. She remembers my good qualities and always reminds me of them.
A true friend provides self esteem
Another friend held my hand, literally and figuratively, during a time when a boss was persecuting me. Fearful of losing my job, this person sought to reassure me of my worthiness and self esteem. Even though I eventually lost my position, I am truly grateful of the support I had at that time. A true friend can boost your self-esteem. Even better is when you can return that same feeling of esteem to your friend.
Here are some other qualities of a true friend:
- A true friend can also tell you of some blind spots you perhaps are not aware of.
They do so in a very impartial and kind way. Their criticism is not meant to diminish you, but to assist you in some fashion. They are anxious that you succeed in life. We all have real flaws, but in many cases, they are not fatal even though we may refer to them as that. Gentle honesty is what sets their critiques of us apart from real criticism.
- They are present.
What this means is a true friend gives you real attention when you speak. They are honestly interested in your thoughts and feelings. They are not always looking at their cell phone when you are speaking or giving excuses as to why they can’t speak with you in the moment. Nor are they more interested in telling you about their lives than yours. Mostly, it is a two way street. You are honestly interested in their lives also. This back and forth discussion of both your lives during a meal or over the phone is appreciated and loved.
- They support you through adversity.
This is when you know you have a true friend. There is a willingness to even do your laundry or make chicken soup for you if you are ill. Their own feelings for the moment are submerged so that you can express whatever you are feeling during an emergency. They are as close to a real family member as you can get.
- A true friend is there for many stressful moments.
How wonderful it is to be able to speak with someone when you are facing a stressful situation. Finding someone who gives you good and valuable advice is a great gift. Not everybody has the wisdom to give you advice that relieves your stress. If you find someone who has wisdom, clarity and compassion, you are truly lucky. Just talking to them or spending a bit of time with them can help beat stress.
- A true friend is truly happy when we accomplish something wonderful.
It is great when you have someone who enjoys your accomplishments as well as your moments of despair. This is someone who is ready to applaud your finest moments also and not be jealous or envious of them. They not only support you, but also are genuinely happy if some good luck has come your way.
- They are truly proud of you.
A true friend is happy to tell their other friends that you are their best friend and why. They even give significant examples of why they consider you their best friend. It is wonderful to know that there is someone who considers you that close and who trusts you enough to give you that moniker.
- They stick with you even though you may disagree with them. Sometimes hurt feelings emerge through interactions. They will eventually want to know why you are feeling in a certain way and feel free to tell you how they feel also. They are willing to look at their own failings and admit to them. You feel free to likewise return that gift. It is a true gift to be honest with each other through adversity. In fact, the interest to maintain your friendship is such they are willing to admit to their own flaws. In fact, they might even be willing to change some aspect of it. The true friendship however is when both parties can accept the compromise each is willing to make to maintain the friendship.
Finally, a true friend will always evoke the best in us. In order for a friendship to continue, we must bring our very best to it to help it to grow and be sustainable. A true friend will always attempt to maintain the friendship even through difficult times. It is a sign of respect and honor when a friend is willing to sacrifice even their own ego to maintain a friendship with you.