People share different thoughts on what makes someone a good friend
The responses show that we prioritize different things in our friendships.
According to an October 2023 Pew Research Center report, 61% of adults in the U.S. say that having close friends is an essential part of living a fulfilling life—a far higher percentage than those who say the same about being married (23%), having children (26%) or having a lot of money (24%). The research also found that having more friends is linked to being more satisfied with friendships in general. Approximately 81% of people with five or more close friends share they are "completely" or "very" satisfied with their friendships, while 65% of those with one to four close friends say the same.
But what does being satisfied with friendship even mean? What earns someone the label of "friend"? Or more importantly, what does it mean to be a good friend?
We asked our audience what makes someone a good friend, and the responses were interesting. Naturally, there were some common themes, but people also had some diverse ideas about what's important in a friendship.
Some people shared short, sweet lists of traits that are essential in a friendship:
"Caring, loyal, kind and completely non-judgemental." –Annika B.
"Trustworthy, loyal, supportive, flexible, patient, understanding. Caring." – Jonathan S.
"Kind, helpful, supportive and honest." – Marjorie M.
"Conversation and laughter. Kind and caring." – Kathleen M.
"Unconditional love, laughter, and honesty." – Molly H.
"When you are a better person with them than by yourself. And kindness " – Gillian N.
"They know how to really listen without judging." – Bernadette C.
Friends laugh together.
Others offered a bit more detail:
"Being able to pick up where you left off even if some time has passed and it feels like no time has passed. Someone who will give you straight advice, but love you even if you don't follow it." – Melissa O.
"Someone you can talk honestly with, belly laugh with, but also just sit in silence with…knowing they just get you." – Lori T.
"Someone non judgemental who loves you even when you’ve struggled to love yourself. Someone who loves you unconditionally despite your flaws." – Sue H.
Friends comfort one another.
"Kind, supportive, dependable, wants to spend time together, someone you can laugh and cry with. There on your important days, and in your time of need. And you have to be all those things for them in return." – Della D.
"They get you, allow you to be who you are, laugh with you, cry with you, no matter time or distance - you just pick up where you left off, they back you up - even when you’re not there to defend yourself." – Zan M.
"Honesty, kindness, understanding, ability to disagree without anger, trust, willing to tell each other hard truth with love, forgiveness." – Deborah H.
"They fill a need you have. There are many different kinds of friends. Childhood friends ,School friends, work friends, church friends etc...they all play a special role in your life." – Elizabeth B.
Friends don't judge.
And finally, some people offered specific details and personal anecdotes about their friendships:
"Sharing common interest and really caring about each other. listening is very important not just speaking to each other. My best friend of 60 years passed away a couple of years ago and I cannot tell you how much I miss her and her nonjudgmental friendship." – Carole J.
"Someone who supports you publicly and tells you hard truths privately, who cheerleads your successes and empathises your lows, who trusts you and you them. Who loves you flaws and all - but all of this you reciprocate in being a good friend. Time flies together and even after months apart you pick up like it was yesterday. Who you want to tell your big news too and your bad news too first." – Elsa P.
"Has great sense of humour, shared interests & values, compassionate, empathic, kind, doesn’t try to 'fix' me, doesn’t minimize my lived experiences as 'not so bad,' able to listen without judgment, and allows me to be there for them." – Linda H.
Friends are there through thick and thin.
"I don’t know, sometimes they just love you, even when you don’t want them too. You have to acknowledge them, they don’t ask for anything just want to be with you. I have a 30 yr friendship because she didn’t give up on me. I came to realize she was more forgiving and accepted me for just me. She’s not too kind, sometimes selfish but she’s there, when you get older you also accept and understand no one is perfect and if you get mad at everyone you might wind up without friends we start dying off or in old age homes. We are who we are, just love each other flaws and all. Annoying things find a way to keep friendship, not awful bad things. You guys know what I mean." – Ney C.
"Someone who knows they can call you at 2 AM, and you can do the same. Someone you house and dog sit for, whose dogs come to greet you when they hear the garage door open and who happily sit on you. Someone that refused to let you pay for Lyft to get to chemotherapy appointments, but took you each time, checked on you afterwards, brought food knowing that you didn’t feel like cooking, visited to talk about all kinds of things, and just was there for you when you were feeling the considerable side effects of chemotherapy." – Yaca A.
We all need people in our lives we can depend on, share our joys and sorrows with, and support in return. And if we have a hard time making friends, we can always rely on the wisdom of preschoolers to remind us of the basic building blocks of friendship.