Friend And Friendship

By Marie Miguel|Updated June 14, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Rashonda Douthit , LCSW

How can you define a friend? Many of us have these true friendship relationships without often thinking about them. A friend is someone you've been close for years, or they're someone fairly new in your life. They could be someone you bond with over a favorite sport or tv show, or perhaps a new friend you made at school or work. A friend can come from all aspects of our lives and it's important to reflect on the characteristics that are important in friendships, how friendships shape our lives, and what true friendships look like.

friendship selfie, group smiling to take a photo friendship

Friendship Is Essential Part Of Life. How Do Friends Impact Happiness?

What Is The Definition Of Friendship?

So what is friendship? The definition of a friend for most of us is someone who is there for us throughout our daily lives. We are here to make sense of all things friends and friendships. What makes a good friend? What makes a bad friend? What constitutes good friendships versus bad friendships and all of the friendships in between? Let's first look at the definition of a friend, and what aspects of that definition are the most important for a friend to have and then dive into platonic friendship in general. 

What's The Definition Of A Friend?

A friend is someone that you share close affection with. You share some common beliefs and values with friends. Friends can be in person or online, your next door neighbor friend or a friend 1,000 miles away. Often, a friend is someone you trust or enjoy being around.

Some friends are casual; you may talk sometimes, but these friendships aren't as strong. You're more close to other close friends and you can rely on them for emotional support through your friendships. Once you start talking, it's like no time has passed. This friendship just feels secure, and this friend may make it easy to pick up where you left off. Good friendships and good friends can span the test of time and are necessary people in someone's life. These relationships are made from mutual respect and understanding of each other's well being. And you may want to explore a friendship symbol for this relationship.

Then there is the social media definition of a friend, in which the two of you have your accounts linked together on social media, but maybe you don't talk much. You should not consider social media 'friends' to automatically be real-life friends, as being a friend is more of a verb than a passive act.

Difference Between Friends Vs Acquaintances

What is the difference between a friend and an acquaintance? An acquaintance is a person who you talk to on occasion and maybe see at a dinner party or other social event, but the bond of a friend or personal relationships are just not there. Some people are friends waiting to happen. An acquaintance likely won't be the person you talk to when problems are happening, as you would a best friend. Alternatively, some acquaintances become friends, if we only give them a chance. The main characteristic of a friend in this case is someone you share more time and trust with.

The Signs Of A Good Friend

Here are some ways to know that you have a true friend and a quality, healthy friendship:

A Friend Is Always There For You

Most friendships involve a good friend will always be there for you whether that is through simple words or grand gestures. A friend isn't going to run away because you lost money, or because you moved further away. Best friends know that life throws many trials, and friends will stick through those trials to the end, no matter the life stages you both are in. A good friend stays by your side and a real friendship is one that goes through these trials and still remains strong, even if other relationships get in the way. 

A Friend Listens To You

A good friend is someone you can be vulnerable and open with. This is because friends trust friends, and are there to support you.

You Feel Good When You're Around Or With Them

A good friend will be one who you enjoy spending time with, and most importantly, a good friend makes you feel good about yourself when you're around them, even if your social skills usually aren't up to par. True friendships don't get affected by this. Your self confidence is high when you are around in a close friendship. 

They Are Very Empathetic Towards You

A good friend is empathetic to your struggles or what you're going through, and shows that they care by validating your feelings. Women tend to be categorized as more likely to share their feelings, but male friends share their feelings with one another as well. 

two people next to her friends are there

They Bury The Hatchet And Forgive 

In a long term friendship, there are likely to be arguments. A good friend knows this. Good friends can forgive each other and move on. Most adults learn this at some point, especially older adults or those in late adolescence, but two friends can come back from almost anything. 

What's A Bad Friendship Or Bad Friends?

If you've been questioning your friendship with someone, listen carefully to your intuition because there are a few sings that someone may not be a good friend to you. Maybe they act different in large groups or when two or more people are around. Maybe they only call when they aren't spending time with anyone else. Here are some signs that spending time with one person might not be great for you:

Friendships With The User Friend

Some "friends" only want you when they need something. They became friends and formed that relationship conveniently, and when you've given them what they need, they stop acting like a friend.

Friends should help each other, but if the help is one-sided, this may be a sign that you're being used by a friend. These are not healthy relationships or friendships for your life. 

Friendships With The Trash Talker Friend

If your friend is always talking trash about their other friends to you, then they could be saying bad things about you to their friends. If this friend is always speaking badly about others, they may be a bad friend and you should reconsider these friendships and relationships to see if they still make sense to be in.  

Friendships With The Friend Who Can't Take Criticism

Friends should help each other, and sometimes we let friends know when they're wrong. A good friend will take criticism as a well-meaning tool for growth, while a bad friend may feel attacked when you say something they don't want to hear.

Friendships With The Friend Who Can't Tolerate Differences

Friends are going to have some differences, be it hobbies, outlooks on life, or perhaps even some values. If your friend is always putting you down for what you believe, they weren't much of a good friend, were they? 

Flakey Friendships

The flaky friend is one who is difficult to be friends with. If you're the friend who is always making plans and they're the friend who never hangs with you despite always saying how much they miss you, they may not be a good friend. Some friends may have social anxiety and find it difficult to commit to plans. If it seems they’re having trouble committing to plans, try talking with them about it. Let your friend know you’re not trying to judge or guilt them, but just want to better understand what might be going on.  

Pushy Friendships

If you have obligations such as work, school, or family, and your friend gets angry whenever you're busy, then this can be a sign of a bad friendship. A good friend knows that life is busy. Be patient, and wait for a good chance to see your friend. These are the friendships that will stand the test of time. 

Sex Friendships

Sex friendships or sex relationships should not be confused with regular friendships. Sex friendships require a physical connection between two people and sex friendships do not necessarily constitute close friendships. You can have a close relationship with people you are in sex friendships, but having sex friendships, even if they eventually become romantic partners, are not the same as close friendships.

Many friends may have a problem or two, but if these happen often in your friendships, it may be a sign that you should part ways.

Look at your friends and see who is a friend, who is an acquaintance, and who may be a bad friend. Don’t be afraid to have open and candid conversations with friends to help figure this out and see if these friendships are real.

Seek Help: Trouble With And Understanding Friends and Friendship

If you're having trouble with your friendships, whether they are same sex friendships, best friendships, or friendships with romantic partners, and want to figure out who your real friends are, or need help making friends, there is no shame in visiting a professional for help for friendships. Seeking counseling can help improve your interpersonal relationships and strengthen your friendships. You only have one life, so fill it with friends who will care about you.

man sips coffee while on laptop; therapy for friends

Friendship Is Essential Part Of Life. How Do Friends Impact Happiness?

Conclusion And Online Therapy

Online therapy has been found to be just as effective as in-person therapy in treating a variety of issues, including communication skills, friendship problems, relationship troubles, anxiety, depression, and more. Specifically, 98% of BetterHelp users have experienced significant improvement in their mental health, personal growth, and friendship journeys, 94% prefer it to in-person therapy, and 100% find it to be convenient.

Additionally, online therapy has the added benefit of being accessible anytime, anywhere – you’ll just need an internet connection to get started! Sessions are fully customizable, with many of our therapists operating at non-traditional hours and offering sessions via video chat, phone call, instant messaging, and live voice recording. Continue reading below to find reviews of some of our board-certified therapists from people seeking help in with their friendships.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is friendship a relationship?

Friendship is a type of relationship, just not always in the romantic sense as many people typically associate it with. Friends can be romantic partners or be in a dyadic relationship, but mainly close friends or a best friend is someone you share a close relationship with. Same sex friendships are the main ones people think of, but you can form friendships with anyone as long as you have similar interests and values.

What is the true meaning of friendship?

According to Britannica, friendship is “a state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy, and trust between two people”; however, friendship can be so much more. A friend is someone who can serve as emotional support, serve a positive and supportive role in your life, serve as someone who you have shared interests or shared values with, and true friendships can even form the best adult romantic relationships as well. Family members can even form friendships with one another, such as parent child relationships later in life or sibling relationships. Children tend to form friendships with their parents later in life, once they can be seen as equals. 

Therapist Reviews: Friendship

“I've been talking with Rebecca since February and she has helped me immensely! A lot has changed in my life and she's helped me create a positive mindset and space to navigate the changes and pursue the type of life, friendships, and relationships I want. Along with this, she's provided me with resources I can use outside our sessions.”

“Danielle is amazing! She's helping me grapple with incredibly difficult challenges in one of my most important relationships. She listens well, synthesizes my scattered thoughts & feelings, and offers helpful tools, activities & resources to work on outside of our sessions. Danielle provides honest feedback and creates a safe space. I can feel that she genuinely cares.”

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