What Makes a True Friend? 28 Signs to Look For

How do you know if someone is a true friend or not? Finding someone you really click with can be quite a challenge.

Let us first look at the definition of a true friend:

A true friend is someone who you can rely on when you need it. They treat you with respect and being around them makes you feel good. They have your best interest at heart. You feel comfortable being yourself with them, and like you can trust them.

In this guide, you will learn 28 common signs that can help you understand the qualities of what makes a true friend.

A true friend…

1. Makes you feel good

You should feel good hanging out with a friend. And after you’ve hung out, you should leave with a good feeling.[2,4]

If they put you down or make you feel bad on a regular basis, there’s something important missing in your relationship.

2. Accepts you for who you are

You don’t have to pretend to be someone else to fit in or feel accepted when you’re with a true friend. They don’t try to change you or make you behave in a certain way.

With your friend, you can put down your mask, relax, and be yourself.

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3. Makes you a better person

A true friend makes you better in so many ways…

  1. They call you out when you’re wrong (in a constructive manner).
  2. They make sure you’re grounded and have both of your feet on earth.
  3. They keep you accountable to your values and your goals.
  4. They help you live up to your full potential.
  5. And finally, they expect you to be the amazing person you are.

4. Is honest and trustworthy

Honesty is an important part of any healthy friendship. It’s important that you can trust your friend to tell you the truth and keep their promises.

If you notice that they’re lying to you or to others, it’s a sign they’re not that trustworthy. Another sign they’re not trustworthy is if they often promise you things or say they will do something.

5. Shares personal and intimate things with you

The more close and intimate you are with each other, the stronger your friendship is.[3,5]

This is about them opening up about private parts of their lives and their feelings to you. And it’s equally important for your friendship that you open up to them. If they open up to you, it means they trust you and value your friendship.

6. Apologizes when they’ve hurt you

We get hurt even by those we love, most of the time by accident. But a true friend apologizes when they realize that they’ve hurt you.

7. Cares about your feelings

You can tell that someone cares about your feelings if they make an effort to make you feel good and comfortable around them. They don’t just ignore how you feel when you see each other it’s important that you feel good to them.

Your feelings are important and carry weight.

8. Wants to do stuff you both like

A true friend doesn’t have a need to decide everything themselves. They’re not dominant and bossy. They want to do stuff that you both like.

It’s even been seen that people strongly prefer friends who look less dominant.[1]

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9. Supports you

You know that, when you’re in a rough spot, your friend is there to support you. Same thing if you’re aiming for a new goal in life, your friend supports you to keep going.

A true friend always has your back covered.

Note that a true friend shouldn’t always agree with you. When you’re clearly in the wrong – they will let you know (in a supportive manner). Letting you know you’re wrong is also a kind of support – they support you in making good choices throughout life.

10. Listens to you

When you have something important to say, or when you want to be heard, you know your friend will listen. It’s important to feel heard in a true friendship.

It’s a bad sign if your friend ignores what you say and keeps talking about themselves.

11. Respects you

Respecting someone means that you value them as a person. You hold their feelings, thoughts, opinions, and rights in high regard.

A true friend should respect you by listening to you, being honest with you, and making an effort to keep a good relationship with you. So, respect is something that’s mirrored in most of the signs we talk about in this article.

Read more: My guide on how to get more respect.

12. Is interested in your life

A true friend shows interest in your life by asking questions about what’s happening and being curious about any new things happening. A good way to tell if they’re truly interested is if they follow up on things you’ve talked about other times.

13. Keeps in touch with you

They call, message, or text you when you haven’t heard from them in a while. They make an effort to keep up to date with your happenings and they also share what’s happening in their lives. They can also keep in touch through common social media like Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook.

Remember that it’s not all on them, you have a responsibility to keep in touch with them too.

14. Makes you feel included

Here are some ways of how a true friend can make you feel included:

  • They introduce you to their friends, and maybe even their family
  • They invite you to social activities with common friends
  • The talk with you in group conversations
  • They don’t leave you alone at social events
  • They don’t make you feel left out

15. Doesn’t judge you

We all have our flaws and secrets, but any person worth their salt doesn’t make you feel ashamed for that. We should be able to open up to our friends knowing that they won’t judge us. They let us be whoever we are without judgment.

16. Doesn’t deliberately hurt your feelings

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A REALLY bad friend regularly tries to put you down, dominate you, guilt trip you, or make you feel bad.

In best cases, a true friend never does any of these things. But the important part is that they apologize and try to make it right when you tell them that they hurt you.

Read more: How to deal with people who try to dominate you or make fun of you.

17. Makes you laugh and laughs with you

Humor is important. Not everyone can be a comedic genius, all you need is a stupid joke to share a laugh. Everything doesn’t have to be doom and gloom, with a true friend you can laugh at life’s challenges.

18. Is happy for you when something good happens to you

When you have good news or you achieve something in your life, your friend gets happy for you.

They don’t get jealous, try to put you down, or try to one-up you.

19. Doesn’t joke on your expense

Ever had someone say “It was just a joke” even if it wasn’t funny? Or “Can’t you even take a joke?”.

Jokes that make you feel bad about yourself are not okay and true friends try to avoid it.

Read more: How to tell fake friends from real friends.

20. Tells you when you’ve (accidentally) hurt them

Sometimes we hurt our friends without even knowing it. It could be something we said or something we did, maybe we didn’t invite them to an event they really wanted to go to.

A true friend would tell you about it so you could apologize and try to fix the situation. A bad friend wouldn’t tell you, instead, they’d get bitter or start avoiding you. Maybe they’d even become passive-aggressive or talk bad about you to other people.

Note that telling you that you’ve hurt them requires emotional maturity, good communication skills, and that they value your friendship. So, if you’re friend tells you this in a constructive way, they’re a keeper!

21. Tells you when you’re wrong

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A true friend does not always agree with you, they also tell you when you’re wrong or misguided. But they do it in a kind and constructive manner.

Being told when we’re wrong helps us grow as persons and strengthens our friendships.

22. Forgives you

A true friend doesn’t hold a grudge against you because of your past mistakes. They forgive and move on. And If they’re really upset, they bring up the issue with you so that you can solve it together.

Forgiving and forgiveness are important qualities in a true friendship.[6]

23. Doesn’t just talk about themselves

It’s normal for someone to talk about themselves, but when every conversation is dominated by talk about their life, their relationships, their dreams, their opinions, and their interests.

Read more: What to do when friends only talk about themselves.

24. Is dependable

When you need your friend, they’re there for you. You know that you can count on them to help you out. They’re reliable and true to their word. If they make you a promise, they keep it.

An unreliable friend will often say they’ll do stuff and don’t do it or don’t show up when you’ve made plans.

25. Your friendship is important to both of you

Any true friendship should be important to both you and your friend. It means that you value your friendship and hold it in high regard. It means you’re willing to make an effort to keep it going. And it means you’re willing to let go of your ego and apologize if that helps you save your friendship.

26. Doesn’t feel like a rival

A friend should not be your rival, they should be your ally. That means that anything good that happens to them feels good to you, and good things happening to you feels good to your friend.

You also don’t regularly fight or bicker with each other.[3]

27. A true friend isn’t perfect

Many points in this list might give the impression that we should expect perfection from our friends. And I want to make clear that isn’t the case. If you expect perfection, nobody can be a good enough friend for you.

Nobody is perfect. Everyone has flaws and even the best of friends can at times behave badly. So don’t judge anyone too harshly on just one sign from this article – look at the bigger picture. Are they a good person? And are they a good person for you? As long as you’re willing to listen to each other and take feedback, your friendship will grow stronger with time.

If someone respects you and loves you for who you are, you’re lucky to have such a gem of a person in your life.

28. Are you unsure if someone is a true friend or not?

Describe your friend and your relationship in as much detail as possible in the comments below. I will personally answer the first 10 comments and give my best advice.

Other words that are commonly used as synonyms for a true friend can be a good friend, a real friend, or even a best friend. If you are unhappy with your current friends, you might be interested in our guide on how to make new friends.

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Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages Socialpro’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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