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True Friendship: 37 Real Friend Traits & What It Takes to Be a Good, Loyal One

Everyone needs friends, but how do you know when someone is a true friend? Once you know all of the characteristics, you’ll know which friends you should never let go of. 

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You can blame social media, the internet, or whatever you want, but it seems that friendship is not what it used to be. So, how do you know what a true friend really is these days? 

All too often, we see fallouts publicly played out on social media, and we see friends who have known each other for years never speak again over something small and petty. We’re left wondering, what is a true friend? 

And what happened to the concept of having a very best friend? These days, we ask what a best friend is because we’re not entirely sure if those around us are true or whether they’re hiding another agenda. 

The bottom line is that we all need friends. 

You might think you can get by alone, or with just your partner, but having friends in your life makes everything so much better. They’re a support system, a source of joy, and you feel wonderful when you help them out too. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean having an army of friends; just a select few can be all you need. 

[Read: Good friends are like stars – 18 ways to build lasting friendships]

What is happening to our view of friendship?

You might look back and wonder where your friendships disappeared to. It’s normal for friendships to wane and even end as your life ticks on. But, friendship isn’t just about physically being there. It’s about many other things too. 

For instance, friendship is about trust. 

You might have had a large circle of friends at school, but as you grew up and moved away from the school situation, you might have realized that many of them couldn’t be trusted or didn’t seem committed to the friendship. [Read: 15 ways to get yourself the friends you want]

It’s sad to lose friends, but it teaches you a very important lesson. True friendship is something to hold onto. Even if you only have one true friend in your life, you’re blessed. 

When you’ve been through drama with someone you thought was a friend, you start to question what true friendship even is.

How many true friends do you think you have in your life? If you’re not sure, break it down: what is a best friend? [Read: Real friends vs fake friends – 13 ways to instantly tell them apart]

What characteristics and features make up this elusive creature? Let’s explore and allow you to come to your own *probably quite painful* conclusion.

What is a true friend?

To find out what a true friend really is, we came up with these important characteristics:

1. Someone who is trustworthy

What is a true friend? Someone you can trust with your life. [Read: Unique traits that make a person trustworthy]

This is your ride or die; someone who you know will be beside you, someone who you know you can tell anything to and it won’t be repeated. This is precious, and something quite scarce these days.

2. A person who really listens

Of course, friendship works both ways, but a true friend is someone who listens to you and really understands not only what you’re saying verbally, but what you’re not saying too.

This person will know you inside out and read your body language, your tone of voice, speed of speech, etc. [Read: What makes a good friend? The art of honing and improving your own friendship skills]

They’ll take the words you’re using and bring them all together into one realistic conclusion. That’s a special skill only a true friend has.

3. You know if you need them, they’ll be there

Need to bury a body at 3 am? Hopefully not, but you get the picture. This is someone who will be there for you when you’re in trouble, when you’re upset, when you’re hurting, and when you’re sick.

A true friend may not be there for you in person at all times, because it’s important to remember that they have their own lives. [Read: 15 qualities of a good friend that sets them apart from the lesser ones]

But they will be there for you on the other end of the phone, and if they need to drop everything, they will. Of course, you should do the same for them.

4. Someone who is understanding

Far too many people are closed-minded. They believe their view is the only one. Nothing else exists. And if you dare to have another opinion, you’re wrong. It goes without saying that this isn’t a true friend. [Read: Being brutally honest – 13 scenarios when it’s an obligation]

A true friend is someone who can see your point of view and they do their best to understand it from your side, even if it’s not what they believe in or agree with.

True friendship isn’t about always agreeing and telling each other what you want to hear. It’s about having the guts to call them out and tell them when they’re wrong, when something looks stupid, or when they’re being ridiculous. 

It might sting, but it’s always done with your best intentions at heart. That is the difference between a good friend and a flaky one. [Read: Reasons why empathy is important in a relationship]

5. They’ve got your back, even when you’re not there

Is someone talking trash behind your back? Your true friend will call them out and deal with it, defending you even when you’re not there to defend yourself. 

That is loyalty. And it’s one of the biggest traits to tick off your list.

6. You talk ‘just because’ 

Many ‘friends’ only call when they want something or when they’re bored. A true friend calls ‘just because.’ [Read: How to be a good friend by following the BFF code]

This means sitting and chatting about nothing but enjoying every second of it. It simply means that you enjoy the time you spend together. Whether you are doing something epic or nothing at all.

7. They know you’re not perfect, and they don’t care

Many people waste their time looking for the perfect friend. They don’t exist, because a perfect person doesn’t exist. A true friend knows your faults. They accept them and love you for them. You do the same for them.

In the age of social media *and so-called* perfection, everyone seems to be looking for the best-looking squad, or a team who can get them where they want to go. Isn’t that all very superficial and selfish? [Read: How to be perfect in everything you do and lead a fulfilling life]

8. You might not talk for a while, but you know they’re there

True friends don’t have to talk every single day. You might talk just once or twice per week, perhaps. At certain times, it might even stretch longer than that. 

It doesn’t mean you’re losing touch. It means you’re living your lives, but you’re always there for each other when needed. Life ebbs and flows. A true friend understands that.

9. You laugh together over literally nothing

If you find yourself laughing about small things for no reason other than you feel like it, you share a friendship vibe that can’t be replaced. [Read: Witty banter – what it is, 15 secrets to talk witty and make people laugh]

Silly moments are the glue that holds a friendship together in so many ways, and true friends have many of them!

10. Time might change, but they don’t

As time ticks on, people change a little. Their priorities alter and you might find that their personalities do too. 

True friends might have life changes, but they stay the same when they’re with you. Your friendship remains static, always supportive, and always there, whether you’re far apart or side-by-side. [Read: The 15 qualities that set a good friend apart]

11. They don’t question or belittle you

What is a true friend? Someone who accepts you for you who are and what you believe. They don’t question your actions unless they believe it’s going to cause you harm. 

A true friend never belittles your choices. Instead, they support you and lift you up. If you fall, they help cushion the blow.

12. They’re your biggest cheerleader

A true friend will always cheer for you when you need a little pep talk. They’re someone who will encourage you to be the best you can be. [Read: How to make someone happy – 20 ways to help them sparkle]

If you decide you’re going to take a class in something new, they’re the ones who will allow you to practice on them! Basically, they want you to do well, they’re always there cheering for you.

13. They don’t remind you of your mistakes

We all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. A true friend forgives and forgets when an apology has been given. If you upset your friend in the past and you apologized for it, it’s done. 

They won’t regularly drag up the past and throw it back at you for ammunition in the middle of a disagreement. They don’t highlight your flaws either; they focus on the positives instead. [Read: 28 self-improvement secrets to improve yourself and transform into your best self]

14. They don’t show jealousy 

If you have a friend and they hate you being around other friends, they’re not true. A real friend won’t become jealous of you spending time with other people because they’re secure in the friendship that you have. 

If anything, they think it’s great you have a wider circle because they know how important friendships are. [Read: How to not be jealous – An easy guide for the overly envious]

15. They compromise when they need to 

This point is something that works both ways. A true friend will compromise to make things right. 

That doesn’t mean they push things that need talking about to one side or pretend something isn’t happening. 

It means they appreciate the friendship and know that some things just aren’t worth risking it for. But of course, it also means that you need to compromise in return and meet them halfway. [Read: Compromise in a relationship -17 ways to give and not feel like you lost]

16. They’re loyal 

True friends are loyal and never cause you to question their loyalty. They will be by your side no matter what. 

And, even though they might always agree with what you do, they’ll remain loyal regardless. This isn’t someone who is going to disagree with you and then part ways. [Read: 18 honest reasons why you don’t have friends that care about you]

17. They don’t allow relationships to get in the way

Far too many friendships have been ruined when one friend ends up in a relationship. The other person either feels left out *with or without good reason* or they don’t like the person their friend has partnered up with. 

This can often cause major problems and may even lead to the end of their friendships. A true friend doesn’t allow relationships to get in the way. You’re friends whether you’re single or coupled up. [Read: Should you overcompensate for your fickle friends?]

18. They like having fun with you

Good friendships should be lots of fun. This probably means that you have lots in common with your friends. 

If you enjoy doing the same sorts of things, are silly together, and make one another laugh, then you’ll feel closer to that person, and you want to spend lots of time together too.

19. They share things with you

Good friends share stuff with one another. This is both in a literal and non-literal way. If you have a good friend they’ll be happy to lend you their stuff and adopt a ‘what’s mine is yours’ attitude. [Read: Unique traits that make a person trustworthy]

They also want to share deep and meaningful things with you too. Remember it’s a two-way street so you need to be willing to share with them as well.

20. They are honest

Honesty is a massive part of any positive relationship in your life. Your good friends should be honest with you at all times. If they hide things from you, lie to you, or say things behind your back, they aren’t really being a good friend.

The only time it might be different is if they don’t want to hurt your feelings. [Read: The qualities of a good friend that sets them apart]

Even then you must question whether you would prefer your friends to be honest with you, even when the truth might hurt.

21. They make time for you

Being a good friend does require work. You need to make sure you make time for your friends and that they make time for you. If you don’t, you start to feel resentful, left out, and drift apart.

22. They keep their promises

Good friends won’t let you down and make sure they keep their promises! 

Of course, sometimes we all break promises, but if this happens regularly you might want to start to question your fickle friendship. [Read: Got flaky friends? Here are the reasons to ditch them]

23. They also keep your secrets

While a lot of people love to gossip, a true friend doesn’t. We all have done things that either we’re not proud of or just don’t want anyone else to know about. 

Many people would just take that personal information that you tell them and blab it to other people, whether it is accidentally or on purpose. But not a true friend.

A good friend is someone you trust with your secrets and know you can tell anything to. [Read: How to build trust in a relationship and learn to be loyal and loving]

24. They are dependable

Being a good friend means they should be reliable. Your friends are people you depend on no matter what. 

That means they keeping their word. If they say they’re going to do something, then they do it. And if they say they’ll be somewhere, they’ll be there. A true friend is someone you can depend on. You never have to wonder about their reliability.

25. They are respectful

Good friends respect one another. They always treat you with respect and speak to you respectfully as well. They believe in the Golden Rule, and their actions show it too. [Read: How to break up with a friend – the respectful steps you must follow]

So, if you have a friend who always takes advantage of you or puts you down, they might not be a very good one!

26. They apologize when mistakes are made

With every good friendship, it’s likely you hit a rough patch or argue at some point along the way. 

This happens to lots of good friends, but it’s how they make up that counts. If you made a mistake, don’t be stubborn. Apologize and learn how to forgive and accept apologies too.

27. They like to have a balance

Good friendships, like all good relationships, are a balancing act. [Read: The nine rules for how to be a nice person]

You should feel close to that person but not inseparable. Having a degree of independence from your friends and not being too needy serves your friendship well.

28. They are selfless

Sometimes you make sacrifices and do things that you don’t want to do in order to be a good friend. 

So, remember to be selfless from time to time, to give things up in order to make your friend happy. If they are a good friend, they no doubt return the favor when you need it too! [Read: Why givers feel unappreciated and undervalued in a relationship and how to fix it]

29. They know you inside and out

Good friends take the time to get to know one another properly. That means they’ve developed an intuition or instinct about your feelings. 

They know when you aren’t happy even if you say you are. They’ll be there for you to come to your rescue, just as you are for them!

30. They’ll always be there for you

When times get tough, good friends are the rocks that we rely on to get us through. A good friend will always be there when you are in need. [Read: The tips you need to build lasting friendships]

Even if they can’t do anything to make the situation better, they somewhat do make the situation better just by being a rock or a shoulder to cry on. You know they are the kind of friend worth hanging on to.

31. They give good advice

No one can solve all of their problems alone. That’s why it’s so great to have true friends. 

Good friends give you the best advice—even when you don’t want to hear it! [Read: Do you love talking and hate listening?]

32. They understand that you don’t need to agree on everything

One of the biggest mistakes that people make in friendship is assuming that you have to agree on everything, otherwise, you’re simply not compatible as friends anymore. That’s rubbish!

We all have our own opinions and quirks. Friendship is about understanding these and accepting them, even if they’re not the same as yours. 

A true friend will accept you for the wonderful human being you are: opinions, quirks, and all! [Read: 15 signs a friend is using you and draining your happiness away]

33. They never allow you to be alone in times of need

A true friend will never allow you to be alone when you’re down/upset/angry/grieving, or anything else negative. A good friend will be able to instinctively know when their friend requires support, even if you tell them you are fine. 

They don’t listen to you because they know you are not fine. Instead, they will turn up at your house with ice cream, wine, beer, pizza, or whatever works.

34. They accept your choices and don’t judge you

At times, you might do or choose things that they don’t like or agree with. For instance, perhaps you enter into a relationship with someone who they don’t like. [Read: Small changes to being a good person and transform your world]

That’s not their business. 

They will never cause you to choose between them and whatever you have invited in your life, person, or choice. A true friend will accept your choices, support you, and be there for you if it does end up going wrong without judgment.

35. They let arguments go and forget grudges

A true friend knows that there is no space for grudges or petty arguments. It’s completely normal to have disagreements from time to time. [Read: Your guide to grow up and face life like an adult]

They allow you to air your differences, then they let them go and move on. Grudges have no space in a friendship and will simply turn toxic over time.

36. They are vulnerable and allow you to see their real self

A true friend is always being real. 

If they are holding up a mask, putting on a show, or pretending to be something they’re not, how can they be a good friend? 

It’s impossible because they’re not being themselves. They allow their walls to drop and let you into their life, just as you’re doing with them. [Read: 20 things to do to be more vulnerable in a relationship and feel closer]

Friendship can be scary, just like romantic relationships, because you’re giving over a part of you that they could decide to hurt you with. All you can do is risk it and see where it goes. A real friend will not hurt you.

37. They never let ‘things’ get in the way of your friendship

We live in a world obsessed with material gains. Most of us want the latest iPhone and or to stay on top of the recent trends, and while normal, it’s not normal to let material things get in the way of your friendships.

Friendship isn’t a competition over who has the best phone, who is skinniest, most fashionable, most popular, or who has the best car. [Read: 16 types of friendships, benefits, and how many you need to be happy in life]

When you have a true friend in the most genuine way, they let material things go, and so do you.

How many true friends do you have?

Hopefully, you’ll have read that list of characteristics and realized that you have more true friends than you thought. If not, don’t worry. 

Nobody can have an army of true friends. These are the types of friends that are rare yet extremely special. If you only have one, you’re luckier than most! 

[Read: How to recognize a fake best friend before you get betrayed or hurt]

What is a true friend to you? Is it someone who encompasses these characteristics, or do you have a few others to add to the list? 

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...