What Is The Real Definition Of A True Friend?

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated May 9, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Whether a friendship is new or old, there may be times when we need to assess whether someone is a true friend or simply a companion. Each friendship is unique; some may be more casual in nature, while others may be deep, lifelong relationships. Learning to recognize a true friend can be crucial for ensuring our social circle consists of supportive, understanding, mutually beneficial relationships. 

Here, we’ll explore the nature of true friendship so you can recognize when a friend relationship may be worth investing in. We’ll also cover how to find and maintain friendships so you can build and strengthen your connections with others.

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Cultivate better friendships with the help of a therapist

Recognizing a true friend

True friends are those who offer you support, improve your quality of life, promote self-confidence, provide honesty and unconditional love, and help you progress mentally. In a healthy friendship, both parties can feel free to be themselves without fear of judgment, allowing them to feel comfortable and secure in each other’s presence. True friends typically prioritize quality time together, as well as consistent communication.

Benefits of true friendship

Understanding the meaning and definition of true friendship often requires patience and tolerance. Having a real friend can provide comfort, safety, and companionship. 

Here are some benefits of having true friends.

  • Support

Having true friends can mean having an effective support system. True friends generally stick around during difficult times. 

  • Improved quality of life

Life without friends can be dull and lonely. It may even contribute to depression and other mental health issues. Knowing you have true friends can improve your quality of life by adding moments of happiness, connection, and understanding.

  • Promoting self-confidence

True friends are often there to motivate and encourage you. They may remind you of your positive qualities and all you have to offer when you’re feeling down. When the journey seems challenging, one of the qualities of a good friend may be that they stay by your side and help you overcome any challenge you experience. 

  • Honesty

A real friend can be honest with you, even when what they have to say may be hard for you to hear. For example, a true friend may let you know if they notice that your partner seems to be treating you poorly or if your new job seems to be bringing you down. This authenticity and honesty can contribute to a realistic perspective of life.

  • Unconditional love

What is true friendship? True friendship may be defined as mutual unconditional love. This can be a different type of love than you might receive from your family or your partner. Real friends may show unconditional love and expect nothing in return. They may not judge you or think less of you. They will likely always have your back and support you through thick and thin.

  • Mental progress

Real friends can help you focus on your goals, stay motivated, and be creative. Having true friends may help you stay on track and make wise decisions. Real friends generally shouldn't influence you negatively; instead, they might encourage you to do better and help you make decisions that will lead you in the right direction.

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How to foster and maintain true friendships

Fostering healthy friendships can require effort, dedication, and commitment. It’s often essential to be honest and willing to spend time with your friends. You should also be patient and understanding of each other's circumstances. Additionally, it’s usually best to respect one another's opinions and not be judgmental of their choices. Trust can be another important component of friendship.

Overcoming the challenges of finding true friends

Finding true friends in today's world can be a challenging task. However, with patience, effort, and a little self-reflection, you may find true friends who can support you through life's ups and downs.

One of the biggest challenges in finding true friends can be distinguishing them from casual acquaintances. To find true friends, you may need to look for people who might be willing to be there for you no matter what, who understand and support you, and who you can trust with your deepest thoughts and feelings.

Another challenge in finding true friends might be that many people tend to be wary of opening up and making themselves vulnerable. To find true friends, you may need to be willing to be yourself and share your thoughts and feelings with others. It can be hard to trust others and to let them see the real you, but this is often a critical step in building true friendships.

One of the biggest challenges in finding true friends is distinguishing them from casual acquaintances. To find true friends, look for people who are willing to invest in your friendship. As you get to know one another, reflect on whether you feel you could trust them to respect and support you.

Try to remember that finding true friends usually takes time and effort. You may not find the perfect friend overnight. With patience, persistence, and a positive attitude, you may overcome the challenges of finding true friends and building lasting relationships that can bring joy and support to your life.

Benefits of online therapy

Online therapy can provide a valuable tool for individuals looking to build stronger relationships with their friends. With the help of a licensed therapist, individuals can explore their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and learn how they may impact their relationships with their friends. By developing self-awareness and better communication skills, individuals can foster a deeper and more meaningful connection with their friends, potentially leading to stronger and more fulfilling friendships. Online therapy provides a convenient and available way for individuals to prioritize their mental and emotional well-being while also working toward building a better relationship with those they care about.

Cultivate better friendships with the help of a therapist

Effectiveness of online therapy

According to one study, online therapy and in-person therapy generally have the same efficacy rates. This can mean that either option can be valid for those who wish to work with a licensed therapist to improve their friendships and overall well-being.


Although it typically takes an investment of time and effort to cultivate healthy friendships, it’s usually worth it. True friends may improve your quality of life, help you progress mentally, promote healthy self-confidence, offer unconditional love and honesty, and provide unwavering support. Joining groups and clubs in your community can be an excellent way to find new friends who share your values and interests. You may also find it helpful to work with an online therapist to learn more about healthy friendships and how to be a good friend to others.
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