What Is The Real Definition Of A True Friend?

By: Joanna Smykowski

Updated July 30, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: 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 to 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 down but rather a true friend will hold you to a standard they know your character is worthy 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 encouragement to make the choice that will get you to 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.

Focus On The True Friends In Your Life And Nurture Your Friendships
A Professional Therapist Can Help!

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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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How Do You Describe a True Friend?

A true friend is different from other kinds of friends or acquaintances because they possess certain qualities and take actions that stand them out consistently and make them real. The definition of a true friend is someone who has your back, no matter what. They watch out for you and ensure you are not in danger. They will never purposely lead you into making decisions that aren't good for you. 

A true friend will always have your best interest at heart. They will do all in their power to keep you safe. They may even put themselves in danger for your safety. With them, what you see is what you get. They won't pretend to be what they are not. They are relaxed around you and hope that you will be too. They are honest with you and will speak the truth to you in love and hope for progressive change. 

The reason they are your friend in the first place is that they like you. So, they will accept you as you are. They will also not run away from you because of your weaknesses. Instead, they will seek positive change for you. Their love for you makes them see opportunities that are good for you and even seek them out. They will make efforts to do things that are solely for your benefit. 

When you are down, you will find yourself reaching out to them on reflex, because you are sure they will be there for you. And they will not leave you in hard or difficult situations.

  1. What is the true and best definition of love by a friend?

True friends are the ones that are there for you unconditionally. Sometimes, you can act like an untrue friend. Yet a true friend remains hopeful, and hangs around. They do get hurt too, but they usually look beyond themselves to maintain the friendship. They are most times large at heart and very accommodating. 

True friends stick to you, and their faithfulness makes them difficult to separate from, and all for your benefit. A true friend is loyal and is always your friend through life's ups and downs. Life is rarely ever all roses throughout a lifetime; they are aware of this and are there to listen and support during hard times. 

They are the ones who will drive miles just to hold our hands or be with us in difficult times. They are the ones who understand our sighs. For most people, true friends often feel more like family than friends. We feel safe to leave our children with some friends than with our siblings. They warm their way into our wills, and we feel more comfortable owning businesses with them.

  1. What are the characteristics of a true friend?

Real friends give you their most authentic selves. They are people of quality. So, when they are themselves with you, you are getting a lot of good. They share their lives, their experiences, their resources, their time, and even their money. 

You can confide in a good friend and not have to worry about them misusing your information. They will use their knowledge of you wisely. They will use it for your good, and you can be sure that they would not use it for your ill. A true friend will use their knowledge of you to engage with you, reduce conflict, and please you. A true friend will tell you what you need to hear and not just what you want to hear. 

Telling someone the truth can be emotionally tasking stressful or even scary. However, a true friend will put themselves in difficult situations for your good. For them, it is not the time to win a battle or focus on weaknesses, but a tough route to take for your progress. Real best friends don't stand by and watch you do things to hurt yourself. They do what they can to stop you from hurting yourself or making the wrong decision. Your life is important to them, so they make themselves a part of your progress.

  1. What's another word for best friend?

 Although best friends and true friends are often the same, there are so many other synonyms of 'best friend.' Names such as a true friend, buddy, bestie, pal, dear friend, sidekick, homegirl, main man, and many others pop up when we talk about a true friend. It is birthed from the feelings they invoke in us. We remember them by the time they have invested in us. 

The words of motivation and criticism they have given us and their moves towards our progress remind us of how wonderful they are. Fun times spent together stay in memory. A best friend is sometimes rare, and some folks only enjoy one in their lifetime. Luckily for some, they find two. 

They are the only ones who keep your secrets.

They feel so bound to keeping your secret that it is almost occultic. They will take your confidence to the grave. They give you solid advice, and always have your back in a pinch. They are your go-to person for accurate and objective guidance tailored for you. 

There's a famous saying: "true friends really are hard to find." Individualism drives the world, and that makes true friends sometimes hard to find. However, they are only hard to find, not extinct.

  1. How would you describe a friend in 3 words?

Faithful, truthful, and resolute! Those are the traits of true friendship and a true friend. True friendships are built on being in an association where you never have to doubt your friend's loyalty. These traits in a friend are the building blocks for trust. And trust is essential to friendship.

A friend shows their faithfulness by spending time with you, giving you good advice, standing by you in low times and never maligning you. They will not lie to you or be dishonest. They will tell you the truth, graciously and gently, knowing that the truth is difficult to swallow. They will encourage truthfulness and honesty in you too. They will not allow you to lie to yourself nor condone others being dishonest with you. 

They are resolute in their friendship with you. Even when there are differences that society has made impossible, they will hold fast to you. Sometimes they might be stigmatized for associating with you, but they remain unmoved. They are a constant feature in your life. They are there to comfort you in sorrow. 

A good friend is not only there at joyful events; they are a part of your joy. A good person and true friend would never do anything to go against your best interest intentionally. They actively seek your progress.

  1. Why some people have no friends?

Some people have no real friends by choice. Some choose a career over relationships. Others have been so severely hurt that they cringe and growl at the thought of friends and friendship. Some feel they don't need friends. Another set of people are used to being by themselves. Yet many others have trouble forming real friendships, so they are friendless.

Disorders of many kinds can make building friendships difficult for some people. They may shy away from initial contact, or the bond can begin. Then, they go ahead to sabotage themselves and intimacy. Loneliness is quite common today. Some nations have parastatals in charge of happiness. One of the things they may deal with is loneliness. 

If governments are beginning to concern themselves with the populace's state of mind, then the effects of loneliness and unhappiness may be far-reaching. If you're feeling lonely because you haven't built a true friendship, talk to a therapy professional to learn what it takes to build a real friendship between true friends. 

  1. What is a true friend quote?

 "A true friend is hard to find." This friendship quote is a classic that has proven true over time. Through decades and centuries, people have hungered for true friendship and found it to be scarce. The world can be dark, but not in vacuum. It is opaque through the actions and inactions of man. 

The state of the world has made good people endangered. They are quite precious and not common. It is the good ones that become true friends. Real friends are tough to find. When you consider the qualities of a good friend, it will be apparent that good friends are a rarity. 

If you make a list of the people around you, including family, you may find that no one can be regarded as a true friend. As a result, some people never have a true best friend to share their lives with. This is an unfortunate situation to be in because the benefits of true friendships are immense. It brings companionship, love, perspective, healthy habits, and much more into your life. When all of these things are a part of the way we live, we will lead healthy lives. If you need help finding a true friend, talk to a licensed therapist who will give you professional advice. 

  1. What is a bad friend?

A bad friend is the opposite of a true friend. They show all the opposing traits of a true friend. Bad friends are notorious for backstabbing, telling your secrets, and sometimes even worse. Some of these kinds of people are envious of you. The result of that is, they will speak ill of you when you're not there.

 Some of them have loose tongues and talk carelessly. They have no sense of boundaries and will not draw a line on confidence. They are dishonest with you. Either about who they really are or in other ways. They will lie and steal from you. Some of them will steal tangible items, your ideas, or even personality. 

They will not only put themselves ahead of you, but they may actively hinder your progress. A bad friend may be in your life mainly to obtain inside information on you and create roadblocks. They will also not be there in times of sorrow. Nobody likes sad times. They will be sure to disappear at this time. 

They will not be inconvenienced for your sake at all. If you find yourself in a friendship situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, keep in mind that real friends won't mind talking it out with you. Your concerns will matter to them. A sure sign that your "true friend" is a frenemy is if they refuse to address your concerns when they come up.

  1. What are 10 qualities of a good friend?

Ten qualities of a true friend are 1. Honesty, 2. Integrity, 3. Loyalty, 4. Respect, 5. Steadfastness, 6. Availability,7. Compromise, 8. Reliability, 9. Humour, and 10. Authenticity. A true friend has many of these qualities and possibly even more. They will be honest with you. They are open and ready to be known. They don't cheat you in any way. They will stay through thick and thin. 

A good friend is a part of your life's journey, featuring in both the good and bad. They remain respectful even when you have conflicts. 

Your reservations will matter to them. They are always by your side, enough to be known to you. A good friend will invest their time in you. They are there when you need them, and will treat you as important and sometimes, urgent. They are willing to break grounds for your sake. 

Someone who is your friend would accept your differences, be willing to put their prejudices aside for your sake, and meet you in the middle. When they are in charge, you can go to sleep. And trust them to answer your call during tricky situations. They sure know how to make you laugh and smile, especially in hard times. 

A good friend is never pretentious with you. They are vulnerable to you and encourage you to the same. When you're looking for your next best friend -- ask yourself what qualities you want in a friend.

  1. How can you tell a fake friend?

A fake friend is easy to spot if you've ever had (or been) a true friend. If you have good friends and encounter a fake one, you will experience a bad shock. They are a picture of the word, fake. They are not there for you at all. Either because they are faking friendship with you, or because they just do not have what it takes. 

Fake friends seem to do more harm than good when they're around. They are of no use to you. If that was all, it might be good. But they are dangerous to you and are not safe to have around. You will visibly begin to see yourself retrogress when you are around them long enough. 

Being self-centered, they cannot abide by your growth and progress. All their dealings with you will be selfish and of no good. Unlike a true friend, a fake friend never seems to have your best interest at heart. Yet they expect you to put them first all the time. They will waste your time and eventually, your life. When the repercussions come, they will leave you in the lurch. 

Canceling dates, not returning phone calls or messages -- are all signs that your 'true friend' may not be who you thought they were. It might also indicate that you do not matter to them, and that they have no respect for you.

  1. What is a true best friend?

A true friend is someone you can rely on regardless of the circumstances. While they may give you the advice you don't want to hear from time-to-time, a true friend will never lead you purposely down the wrong road. They tell you as it is while presenting the truth to make it easy for you to receive. 

When a person has your interest at heart, they will not always do things that will give you pleasure. Some things they do may be painful, but they stop a harmful thing from growing. A good friend will be willing to inflict pain for your good. If a true friend sees an attitude or an unhealthy habit that needs to stop, they will do all they can to stop it.

 If you need to inculcate healthy habits, they will be very engaged with you in making it a part of your life. A true friend will always encourage you to do the right thing. If the right thing is difficult, they may lend a hand or be as supportive as possible. Are you struggling to find a true friend? Talk to a therapy provider to learn how.

  1. What are the signs of bad friends?

When compared to a true friend, a bad friend is entirely the opposite. They have patterns that are anti-true friendship. While a true friend is considerate of your feelings, a bad friend will brush you off or belittle you when you disagree. They cannot handle differences at all. They are irritated with opinions that don't serve them. 

They go further and treat you nastily for daring to have or express an opinion. Bad friends think that you are somehow inferior to them and so behave accordingly. A bad friend will also not value your time, view, and may even be argumentative. They expect you to pause things for them and expect you to be there at impossible times. You find that you are always quarreling, and most times, the reasons are trivial.  

Their remarks are often biting and strip you of your self-esteem. These bad friends are disagreeable and let nothing go. In comparison to a true friend, a bad friend never seems to have your back, and they are only happy when you're at your worst. They rejoice at your loss and downfall and would walk all over you. They expect you to fail. When around them, you will sense that they want you ill.

  1. How do you know if your friends don't like you?

A true friend will never do anything to hurt you on purpose. They are deliberate about harming to be inactive towards anything beneficial to you. They consider you a threat and look for ways to undermine you. People who don't have your best interest at heart don't invest in your well-being. They let opportunities that will make good slip by. They like to see you unsuccessful. 

They are too invested in themselves to look out for you. They want you to sacrifice your success for them. Being around them is neither refreshing nor fun. You will always leave them feeling sad and hurt. Unlike a true friend, a frenemy always seems to set their sights against you and never seems to be on your side. 

They do not encourage your progress; they give suggestions and advice that will ensure you don't succeed. They emphasize your weaknesses and embarrass you with them. They use information about you carelessly and harmfully. 

If you're wondering whether your true friend might be a frenemy -- chat with a licensed therapy provider for realistic advice. If you're having trouble recognizing a true friend due to your history, emotional trauma, or other reasons, a licensed therapist at BetterHelp can help.

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