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 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.

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]

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

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

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.

Show references +

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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  1. 1)She is always tired and busy when we want to chat as friends
    2) She never has time for me
    3) I always think of forcing myself talking to her and when I do so she always tells me she is tired

    Reply
  2. I have a friend who is an introvert but enjoys hanging out with his friends. He is smart and gentle and caring for everyone. I always trouble him by calling or texting but he never gets irritated. Whenever he sees me outside by coincidence he tries to grab my attention. He does not share anything about personal life much but tries to meet me whenever possible. He doesn’t introduce me to his friends. Is it a sign that he is my true friend?

    Reply
  3. I have a friend but my last bday she did not remember. We always remembered and participated in each other’s bdays. She texted me last year and I mentioned my bday after she was telling me of her upcoming bday plans. She asked me when was my bday. I was shocked. I knew hers but she had forgotten mine. So to make up for this, she texts me and tells me she was in town and she got a gift for me; but at this time she was trying to get me to come to her bday. I called her previously and told her I might not make it; not cause of my bday that she missed but because I had low funds to attend. I did not. Ever since all this we been distant. I texted and called her to communicate bout everything she replied but I have not heard from her since. Im not going to keep trying when shes not. What is your take?

    Reply
  4. I have a friend from my school days. We grew closer and would share everything with each other. After one year I changed my school and he remained in the previous one only. We used to chat on social media almost every day. But since the last two years we are not in touch with each other. It’s always me who calls him and ask about him how is everything going. I even tell him to remain in touch however he never makes the effort to call me. He is a great friend but we are no more connected the way we used to be.

    Reply
  5. I made a good friend a couple years ago. We were very close. We have very different personalities but we complemented each other. Unfortunately, things changed. He began to get tired of me & tell me what was wrong with me. We had terrible fights & he hurt me a lot. Now, we talk sometimes, but about half the time he still gets mad at me, because I don’t say the right things or make him happy enough. We help each other with certain things in our life but I get the feeling our friendship has passed. It’s hard to believe, since we had such good times once.

    Reply
  6. At this present time I’ve cut off all friends good and bad!. I dnt know who to trust anymore and I’m not sure ppl like me can get by in todays society.

    Reply
    • I feel the same way, its interesting that i live in this society with no friends, i just dont trust anybody and its hard for me to talk to anybody about my personal life

      Reply
  7. I don’t have any friends who make it a point to be in my life. I feel like I’m the one who has to initiate everything and if I don’t I would never see any of them. It really hurts not having anyone, I know they aren’t the greatest friends in the world but I keep them because without them I’d have none at all.

    Reply
    • This is a little long, but it comes from a heart of empathy and kindness.

      I don’t know where you are at in life. Yet I have been where you are at. Keep engaging with people, don’t be afraid to branch out *try new things* this is a great way to meet new people! By doing this, I have found new friends that reciprocate and embody the ideas featured in this article. Two more things: in trying to find new friends, I offend jeopardized myself by being too upfront and aggressive. Be patient! It’s challenging, but necessary friendships don’t develop overnight; they take time. Try to engage with them ask them what they’re doing this weekend or this week. By doing this, you take an interest in them and the things they are doing. When there are opportunities to do things or invites you to do something, SAY YES (but don’t overextend yourself). Even if you don’t like the activity 9/10 times, there will be conversations and the opportunity to meet new people and make connections!

      Reply
  8. I have a couple of close friends, one of them, however, although is good, during a conversation, almost always deliberately taking the opposite and critical side no matter the subject. This makes me tiring to have a normal conversation because it rather seems more of an argument which both likes to win. And I am keeping myself distant. is this normal?

    Reply
  9. My boyfriend cares a lot about me and is dependable and always says sorry but is very hard on me and critical when I leave I don’t feel good about myself but can’t tell if I am over reacting.

    Reply
    • Do you want to feel unhappy forever? Take it from someone who stayed – you’ll regret it. You may feel it’s ok because you had similar treatment with your family of origin, but when you wake up old and alone and it’s too late to find anyone else, you’ll regret it. You are NOT overreacting. You are reacting to a bad situation. Get out now.

      Reply
  10. I have a friend we were away on holidays in 2019 for a week but I found he started to push my Buttons to get a rise out of me, we both suffer from SA so I was surprised by his behaviour he acts like he’s an athourithy on everything but we have a lot in common so I’m willing to overlook his personality faults as we all have them but I will have to see if he tries to make fun of me for his own enjoyment wether the friendship has a future long term …

    Reply
  11. I have a best friend. She qualifies all of these characteristics. She’s genuinely amazing and I couldn’t have asked for a better friend. We have a lot in common and have the same personality, mindset, lifestyle etc. We both like the same things. But recently (over the past year or so) whenever we meet up or spend time one on one together, things get awkward and there are plenty of silences and the conversation feels forced. What’s weird is that we text almost every day and have amazing conversations while texting. I don’t know what to do. She tries to initiate one on one meetups but I avoid them because the awkwardness kills me every time. I can’t stop being friends with her, I’ve known her for 16 years and she plays a major role in my life. But I can’t get us to bond and vibe like we used to before.

    Reply
  12. My closest friend always makes me feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders, loves to joke around with me to get me to laugh, and we talk about things that bother us and we support each other through it.

    Reply
  13. I have a childhood friend . I used to live in another country but I didn’t have his number. After 5 long years, we came in contact through whatsapp and used to chit chat so long. But just after 2 years, he seems changed. He doesn’t text me anymore and I always make the effort to text him anything. He doesn’t even reply me after reading my text 😢

    Reply

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