Advice for young people

What makes a good friend?

Two boys

Good friends have a huge impact on our success and happiness; they give us confidence, make us feel valued and offer support and love when we need it. Friends are special because each one is unique, but there are common factors that make a good friend.

They make you feel good and support you

Good friends are supposed to pick you up when you are down, give compliments and congratulate you when you have achieved something special. They genuinely share your happiness when you succeed, and are the first ones to suggest you celebrate. They are also sensitive when you are upset or disappointed and cheer you on until you are back on your feet.

Bad friends put your achievements down, show jealousy and resentment or offer little sympathy when you are sad.

They encourage and inspire you

Good friends are your own personal motivators. They push you to be the best person you can be, and persuade you to reach for your goals both academically and for pleasure. They understand that you all have different aspirations and hobbies; they encourage you to experience new things while pursuing their own interests too.

Bad friends make you feel stupid for liking different things to them. They encourage you to behave badly and put you off from doing things you want to do. They may also put a lot of unfair pressure on you by trying to make you feel bad about wanting to do activities without them.

They listen and share

Good friends make time to listen to your feelings and experiences. They do this without distraction, and allow you talk without constantly interrupting you. Even if your problem has been going on for a long time, good friends will never mind hearing it again, and will actively ask you how things have progressed. But listening is a two way street. They also seek you out for advice, lean on you for support and trust you with their secrets. You know each other equally, and enjoy each other's company. 

Bad friends only want to talk about themselves, or become clearly disinterested and distracted when you are sharing. They may also persuade you to tell them your secrets, but share nothing in return.

They are honest and trustworthy

Good friends can be trusted with your most personal secrets, and are honest with you when they are upset or concerned about something. They do not say nasty things about you behind your back or share your private conversations with others.

Although everyone likes a bit of gossip, good friends know the difference between light-hearted sharing and breaking someone's trust. They are not constantly saying rude or judgemental things about other people, and certainly not about those who are supposed to be their friends.

Bad friends regularly talk about people as soon as they turn their back. If you notice them doing this, watch out as they are likely to be doing the same to you!

They are consistent

Good friends stick around no matter what and keep the commitments they make. They take an active role in the friendship and don't ditch you just because they meet new people. They schedule in time to see you, particularly if you need their support and don't often cancel on you unless they have a good reason.

Bad friends are always too busy to meet you, run hot and cold and reject you whenever they meet someone new.

They make you happy!

Good friends, more than anything, make you feel happy and raise your self-esteem. If your friends regularly make you feel down about yourself, your accomplishments and your ambitions, it might be time to move on.

Related advice 

Are my friends bullies?
Moving away from frenemies
How to meet new friends

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