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How to Be a Good Friend: The 23 Friend Codes All BFFs Must Follow

Being a good friend is tricker than it sounds. If you want to know how to be a good friend, there are basic rules to being a BFF.

how to be a good friend

Relationships make the world go around, but that doesn’t mean that they make life here a carnival ride. Some relationships lift us up, challenge us, and make us better people. Then, there are others that do the exact opposite. Not everyone knows how to be a good friend, but unfortunately, most of us think we do.

Friendships are like pieces of a puzzle. Some fit, and some don’t. If you have a friend who is going through a hard time, or you are going through people like they are disposable, then you may be looking for some guidance about how to be a good friend. It isn’t about being someone’s yes man or pin cushion. Nor is it about controlling other people. [Read: What makes a good friend: The art of honing your friendship skills]

The BFF code – how to be a good friend

Friendship involves caring for someone the way you do yourself. It means being honest, and knowing when to push and when to hold fast. If you want to know how to be a good friend, these are the rules that make you an excellent person to be around. 

1. You can go to a pity party

If you are in a friendship and the other person has recently had a traumatic incident, it can become difficult to allow them to wallow. Understanding how to read the signs when someone just needs a hug or some sympathy is the best way to learn how to be a good friend.

There will be some people who respond to a kick in the ass, while others need a little coddling to bring them back to life. [Read: Good friends are like stars – 18 ways to build lasting relationships]

2. You know when to make vodka lemonade out of lemons

Some people will sit and stew for years without ever just moving on. There are times when, instead of attending their pity party, you need to show up with vodka lemonade to turn those lemons around. Sometimes someone needs to be presented with the other side and given a little push to move on. Then they’ll see that their world isn’t disintegrating.

3. Have heavy shoulders

When you are friends with someone, it’s easy to get your feelings hurt. There are going to be times when your friend is having a hard time or going through drama. Hard times don’t always bring out the best in people, and sometimes they need somewhere to deposit their anger.

The first likely candidate is someone they love and feel safe around. Although difficult, sometimes you have to allow someone to vent, even if it feels personal, and not take it personally. Having heavy shoulders means being their sounding board and sometimes their dumping ground. [Read: How to make a friend feel better – 21 ways to help a sad friend]

4. Be honest

If you don’t agree with their side of the story, or you see them holding onto the belief that they were in the right, then you have an obligation to be honest and tell them. Sure, it isn’t a fun thing to tell your friend that you saw their boyfriend with another girl.

But, if you want to know how to be a good friend, you need to be honest even when it hurts. Just make sure you stick around to pick up the pieces after you tear it all apart. [Read: Being brutally honest – 13 scenarios when it’s an obligation]

5. Don’t say what they want to hear, but what they need to hear

Sometimes we turn to the friends who tell us the best “story.” That means we don’t want to hear what we should; we want to hear what we want to hear. It always feels better to be the good guy, but it isn’t always best for our friends.

Telling someone what they need to hear may be a harder road to go down. However, if you want to know how to be a good friend, you have to tell them what they might not want to hear instead of what will make them feel good.

6. Only play devil’s advocate when it is warranted

We all have those friends who are very good at putting things into perspective and showing us the opposite side of a story. There are times when that is a good thing. However, other times it sounds like they are negating our hurt or trying to convince us that what we feel isn’t real or true.

Playing devil’s advocate sometimes can feel non-supportive. At times, it may be better to just hold your tongue, nod your head, and wait to tell them the other side. [Read: Why you should tell the truth even if it hurts & why it matters]

7. Be there not only for the parties, but when the music dies

Everyone is a good friend when times are awesome, and life is a party. The real friends are the ones who stick around even after the music dies.

It is really simple to be someone who wants to be there during the fun times, but also hangs out to clean up afterwards. That takes more care and concern. Be the friend who is still there long after people have vacated.

8. Don’t always give in

Knowing how to be a good friend isn’t always about giving in and putting your own needs and wants aside. Being the martyr doesn’t make you a good friend.

Most people who play the martyr are doing so because they are trying to gain acceptance by being “nice,” not by being their genuine self. You don’t have to be someone’s pin cushion to be a good friend. In fact, that isn’t a real friendship at all. [Read: 13 signs your friends are ruining your relationship]

9. Respect their space

There might be times when your friendship is getting too close, or things are just not clicking. Being a good friend means that you have to know when to take a break and give your friend some space. Blowing up their phone when they are obviously trying to gain some distance will tax the relationship and could potentially drive your friend away.

10. Make them a priority

If you make plans with a friend, then you keep plans with a friend. If that hot guy calls and asks you out after a year of pining over him, then surely your friend will understand if cancel. But if you never make concrete plans, or are always looking for something better to come along, that doesn’t scream friend, that screams shallow. [Read: 17 bad friends you should unfriend from your life]

11. Understand and be empathetic when they are going through a rough time

Knowing how to be a good friend involves putting your own wants aside. If your friend is going through a breakup, then don’t suggest a chick flick. Being empathetic means that you can put yourself in your friend’s shoes.

12. Make sure the relationship is going both ways

It isn’t always the case that birds of a feather flock together. If you are a mountain person and they are more of a Sunday afternoon drive, then make sure that you are doing what they want as much as they are doing what you want. Be there for them as much as they are for you, if you want to know how to be a good friend.

13. Don’t dominate the drama

We all have that friend who is all drama. They are entertaining enough, but sometimes they are nothing more than sheer entertainment.

If you are the drama queen, then it might be time to check yourself and let someone else have the stage for a while. Drama is fun once in a while, but if that is all you have and all you talk about, it is bound to get old quickly. [Read: Drama queen alert – 12 steps to calmly deal with the diva]

14. Do the small things to brighten their day

Being a good friend is about keeping friendships in your thoughts. We can’t always pick up the phone or get together. However, if you know that it has been a long time since you’ve got together, send them a nice “hi” in a text message just letting them know you are thinking about them.

In our chaotic world, it is easy to become busy and stop communicating with the people we love, but don’t take for granted they will always be there. Make sure to let them know how much they mean by doing the unique things that keep you connected. [Read: How to be a good person – 12 small changes to transform your life]

15. Don’t be possessive

It is hard when a new person joins the group or when you see your BFF getting along with someone new. A key tip for how to be a good friend is letting your friend have many friendships. Different people fulfil the various needs that we have in life.

One person can’t be everyone to you, nor can you be to them. Try not to take it personally when you find that they had a party that you weren’t invited to, or that they went out and didn’t invite you to come along. It isn’t a competition; it is a friendship. And, you should both have many friends to fill the spaces and needs in your life.

16. Let things slide

Try not to have hot buttons or be too serious. If you want a friendship to survive, then you have to learn to roll with things. Even if you are sensitive and hurt at times, you have to learn to confront or forgive.

Carrying around a whole lot of baggage is just a waste of energy, and it does nothing to make your friendship better. It only weighs you down and makes you behave distantly. [Read: How to make new friends as an adult – 15 ways to do it right]

Being a good friend is a two-way street. It is human nature to be selfish, to only see one side of a story *typically ours* and to want to be liked. Being a good friend isn’t about always giving in, or always taking. It is about a balance between giving and taking care of yourself while still caring for someone else.

The adage, “treat others as you would want to be treated”, is the best advice. Easier said than done; sometimes you have to either play the good guy or bad guy.

17. Always be cautious with who you date

This one should be obvious, but never, ever date a friend’s ex. You may adore them, but you should never date them. Can you imagine the pain it would cause? Can you imagine the anger that will come your way? Seriously, it’s just not worth it and it will only drive a wedge between you and your new beau anyway. Forget it and find someone without the baggage. [Read: 6 ultimate reasons never to date your friend’s ex]

18. Always stay true to who you are and don’t accidentally morph into your friend

This one might sound odd, but you’d be amazed at how many BFFs end up being borderline clones of one another. When you’re spending a lot of time around each other, it’s easy to start liking the same things. However, you have your own style too and that needs to be stuck to! If you start cloning yourself, even by accident, your friend is going to feel awkward and it’s going to start messing with your friendship.

19. Key rule: If you go together, you leave together

Want to know how to be a good friend? Stick to girl code and never leave your bestie behind. If you go out together, you leave and go home together. Ditching your friend for any reason just isn’t cool. It doesn’t matter if you meet the person of your dreams, your friend comes first! You can always give them your number and meet them at another time.

20. Go to battle for your friend if you have to

If you hear someone talking behind your friend’s back, it’s your duty to stick up for them. Of course, you expect them to do the same for you. You have to defend their honor whether they’re in front of you or on the other side of town. It’s not cool to let someone chat rubbish about your friend and just let it happen. Roll up those sleeves and get defending her! That’s how you learn how to be a good friend. [Read: How to deal with bullies: 13 grownup ways to confront mean people]

21. It’s your responsibility to tell her if she has lipstick on her teeth

Odd, but true! Never let your friend walk around with anything on her face, body or anywhere else that could embarrass her. If she has half of her sandwich stuck in her teeth, tell her. Maybe her lipstick has migrated up her face, tell her! Perhaps her skirt is tucked in and she’s flashing her underwear, definitely tell her! You’d want her to do the same, right?

22. NEVER let a guy take over your girl time

There is nothing worse than your friend meeting a new beau and talking about them ALL THE TIME. If this is you, check yourself, fast. Sure, share details if you want to, and never allow your friend to feel pushed out. However, you should definitely not cancel time with your friend for your new crush. Also, you shouldn’t dominate the conversation with talk about how wonderful they are. Remember, girl time is sacred time! [Read: Madly in love: How to balance your life when you’ve fallen hard]

23. Your lips are sealed

Never repeat anything your friend tells you. It doesn’t matter how juicy the gossip is, your lips are totally and utterly sealed. When your friend tells you something in confidence and you repeat it, even by accident, you’re betraying her trust. It’s the most basic of rules, but you should never gossip. Never talk behind your friend’s back or tell anyone else something about your friend that they wouldn’t be comfortable with. To be on the safe side, don’t tell anyone anything!

[Read: When your best friend ignores you – The why and the ways to fix it]

Figuring out how to be a good friend is never easy. But, if your heart is in the right place, you will always be the best friend you can be.

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Julie_Keating
Julie Keating

A writer isn’t born, but created out of experiences. No lack of subject matter, my life reads more like fiction than anything that could have been imagined...

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