What Is The Real Definition Of A True Friend?

By Joanna Smykowski

Updated January 25, 2019

Reviewer Aaron Horn

Do your friends often disappoint you? Do they put you down all the time? Do they abandon you when you need them most? If so, maybe it's time to find a new definition of a true friend. Here are some of the things to look for when you choose the people you'll trust with your friendship.


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A True Friend Has your Back

Someone who is a true friend stands up for you. When others try to hurt you emotionally or physically, they do everything they can to make sure you stay safe. They don't care who is trying to harm you; they will defend you anytime, anywhere. If they can help you, they'll do it without reservation or reward. A true friend is not one who repeatedly is telling you negative things other people say about you. First, they make it clear by their words and by their actions where they stand when it comes to you. Secondly, they don't just merely standby silently when others are tearing you down no matter what consequences they may face socially. A true friend is a friend when is convenient and when it is not. They standby you consistently both when you are present and when you are not

They're Authentic and Honest with You

True friends aren't phony with you. They show you who they really are. They're honest with you when it matters most. They never try to deceive you to make themselves seem stronger, more successful, or better than they really are. A true friend goes beyond the surface, any true friendship requires some level of vulnerability. When a friend opens up to you and shares their struggles and disappointments, it is a testament of the trust and value they place in you. Having a friend that shows you that they trust you with their authentic self is a good indicator that you can do the same with them.

A true friend is not only honest about themselves, but they are also honest about you. They are able to have difficult conversations in telling you things that sometimes you may not be eager to hear. The key is that they do it in love and with grace. They don't tear you don't tear you down but rather a true friend will hold you to a standard they know your character is worry of.

They Accept You for You

A real friend accepts you as you are. They can encourage you to become a better version of you, but they also help you see the beauty of who you are right now. They don't get sidetracked by what others may say or think of you. Instead, they celebrate the you they've come to know. Although a true friend may encourage you to make good decisions, they trust your judgment and respect your own personal judgments. They don't become passive aggressive when they give advice you don't accept, instead, they respect boundaries and value your feelings and thoughts. They don't push you to become who they want you to be, instead, they celebrate what makes you uniquely you. They accept your personal growth and evolutions along the way because the reasons they value goes far beneath your personal style, interests, profession, marital/relationship status, etc.


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They Want What's Best for You

A false friend might push you to change for them. They might give you the feedback you want rather than the words that will actually help you. A true friend acknowledges your feelings but at the same time points you towards a happier, healthier life. A true friend is not complacent in your personal growth, they don't passively sit by and watch you make choices that are not good for you. They want to see the happiest and healthiest version of you. The encourage to make the choice that will get you want you want in life. They learn the art of being your biggest cheerleader while holding you accountable to your goals as well.

They Don't Abandon You

Fairweather friends are with you when you're happy and successful. Then, when things go wrong for you, they move on to the next happy, successful person. A real friend, on the other hand, stays with you through traumas, disappointments, mental health crises, and physical illnesses. They don't abandon you just because it's easier or more comfortable to avoid you. Because a true friend truly cares about you, they actually want to be there for you during your difficult times. They care more about what you are going through more than they care about how fun you are. A friend isn't around simply for the things you have in your life, they are around for you! So when your life gets more challenging and you find yourself feeling pretty down or overwhelmed you won't have to go through these challenges alone with a true friend in your corner.


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Finding Your Own Definition of a True Friend

Everyone has their own ideal friend. In addition to the qualities shared by all true friends, you may want a friend who shares your interests or goals. Or, you might want to spend time with people who are different from you in ways that challenge you to grow as a person. If your current friends let you down, redefining true friendship can open the door to a rich, rewarding relationship.

Much like our personal styles, we all may have different needs and desires when coming to friendship. You may also come to recognize that some differences are able to support you in some areas of life while you may have another friend that you rely on for support in another area of your life. Expanding the friendships that make up your support system can help ensure that your needs are adequately being met. No friend is perfect, and no friend will be able to be everything to you. Even true friends will sometimes disappoint us. What matters most is how they respond to your feelings and the patterns they establish. Have the disappointments you are experiencing in your friendship become habits? A true friend cares about you and is able to have concern and respect for your thoughts and emotions even when they may not agree. If the disappointment you are experiencing in a friendship has become consistent, it may be time to redefine your definition of a true friend.

Talking to a professional therapist can help you understand where you are going wrong as you choose your friends. The therapist can offer you a sound psychological basis for recognizing and nurturing the friendships that will improve your life and bring you happiness and peace now and in the future. It only takes a moment to reach out for help. When you do, you can start your journey towards satisfying friendships with real friends.


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