The Question was :
What would you classify as traits of a ‘real’ friend?
I felt like I had several friends that would last a lifetime. I could call many of my bible college friends today and chat but we do not talk on a day-to-day or even week to week basis.
Friends from other states that were very dear to me have moved on and we do not talk often though we text each other weekly or monthly. It is bittersweet.
I suppose I really began to ask myself what are the traits of a ‘real’ friend when a person I cared for, defended, and confided in with my most painful experiences pulled away from me and even unfriended me on social media platforms. (*gasp* the world we live in, when the unthinkable is being unfriended online)
An associate I work with shared the following with me and I agree:
I believe many of us have crossed the boundaries of what is a ‘true/real’ friend vs. what we allow sometime to victimize, bully or manipulate the ‘friendship’. I’ve seen this many times and having different opinions, definitions and thoughts to view is so insightful. Many of us who never had a ‘real/true’ healthy friendship can misinterpret healthy boundaries in friendship. We end up in unhealthy, violent relationships even when we may view it as tough love or hanging on to someone who is toxic.
So now in the aftermath of being walked away from and standing here holding the remnants of a friendship that lasted over two years, I pondered and reflected.
What is a real friend made of?
Over thirty Facebook friends ( I won’t list names) shared their opinion and I wanted to combine those responses and see what my readers thought. Do I agree with all of the below opinions of what a real friend is? No, but they are worth mentioning. Do you agree? Disagree? What other traits would you add to the following list?
A real friend is defined as:
- You can be yourself with a real friend because their motive for friendship is not based on what ‘they can get out of you,’ but rather on how or what they can contribute to the mutual strength of your relationship.
- A real friend makes you feel important.
Someone who asks how you are and what’s going on in your life rather than telling you their problems or venting right off the bat. THAT makes me feel important and that they truly care.
- A real friend loves you even when you hurt them. They may have to set boundaries, but they still want the best for you.
- A real friend is not perfect, they accept you regardless of your beliefs even if it differs from theirs. They are willing to stand up for you and to you. They can be themselves and not hide their feelings. They can make mistakes and they accept yours as well. They will also hold boundaries and hold you accountable as well as themselves. They validate who you are and respect you and know you feel the same. They honor you as a person, friend and their relationship with you.
- A true friend is someone you can trust with your deepest thoughts, secrets, desires and your past without them condemning or judging you. Someone you can confide in (who won’t tell all to everyone else) and someone who will pray with you when you need it.
- A real friend endures through the changes in your life and hangs on through the storms, accepting you no matter what you decide and where life takes you. They celebrate your heights with you and comfort you when you fall, taking your hand and listening when you need to talk and find guidance.
- A real friend is someone you can be yourself with, laugh out loud or ugly cry with. They can tell you to your face when you screw up and then raise you up. A friend is one who is there for you in the good or bad.
- Real friends are as happy for you when something good happens as you are with no envy, no backhanded compliments and not passive aggressive.
- Real friends aren’t afraid to tell you their opinion on a matter even if it may”hurt” your feelings. Real friends keep it real!
- Real friends are loyal, a rare quality today. You can be yourself with them and they feel safe to do the same. They tell you the truth even if it’s not what you want to hear. They lift you, they encourage, they bring out the best and have your back regardless of whether or not they think you’re wrong and they let you know you’re wrong.
- True Friends are those that not only love & support a person but also a person’s family! True friendships are not only revealed during hard times (as some people use “helping you out” to show you their greatness or control you) but are truly shown when your family has success. If they can’t rejoice with you when you or a member of your family are blessed then they are full of jealousy and cannot be trusted. Sadly, I have learned to let some friends go.
I have been loved and hurt by “true friends” but to me the risk and making myself vulnerable was worth it. Through it all, I have been truly blessed by some of the best true friends ever! Friends that for many years that have proven their loyalty to me and my family.
- A true friend won’t tell you what you want to hear just to make you temporarily happy but will tell you the truth and at first you may not like it but you know that what they said was totally right and real! Real friends are so hard to come by and easily tossed aside for someone who will tell you what you wanna hear! I would rather one true friend than hundreds of fake friends! When you find those real friends hold on tight because they are few and far between nowadays!
- A friend loves you all the time. Through the good, the bad and everything beyond imagination. Trusting, truthful and loyal. They don’t have to be around each other every minute. They just “know” beyond a shadow of a doubt that they always have each other’s back, so to say. Even if they don’t see each other for a while, it is like they were never apart.
- A real friend is someone I have built a relationship with and no matter the time or the miles we pick up where we left off. Our love and respect for each other is not diminished; surpassing time and distance.
Then my favorite comment of all from a fellow author who also wrote a novel on human trafficking:
I would say the one word which most describes a true friend is “rare.” As in, you don’t get many of them in a lifetime. When we are young, we tend to think every social acquaintance with whom we are on good terms is a friend. “I have LOTS of friends” is a common delusion. Most of us grow out of it. Another common misconception is that only a friendship that lasts for life is real. In truth, friendship is an organic thing, like a plant. It can grow and flourish with sufficient nurturing, but may still die eventually. Best cherish it while you have it.
He went on to take the wind out of my punchline by saying:
If you ask a thousand people to define “friend,” almost all will define it in terms of what someone else can or should do for THEM. The thought process rarely goes in the other direction, so that I consider what I could be or do in someone else’s life in order to more fully match the definition of friend for them. And the qualifier “true” friend reminds me of phrases like “real man” — it means different things to different people, it presents everyone a moving target, and you will always fall short of the mark in the eyes of some.
Have you ever found yourself looking at yourself in the mirror pouting about a time you’ve been done wrong and saying, “Well a ‘real’ friend would ____fill in the blank___…”
Who are we to say what a real friend would do?
Sometimes, all that a person is doing is all they are capable of doing. This person has reached their limitations and cannot do more. This should not make them any less of a friend. Stop and think about that for a moment…..
One must peel back the layers to expose what a person is made of.
- What was their upbringing like?
- What has shaped their personality?
- What are their values?
- Why do they see the world the way they see it?
- What makes this person tick?
Some believe a real friend always has a shoulder to lean on and is someone to listen to you cry when you are depressed or lonely. I disagree with this logic.
- What if this is not in their personality traits?
- What if they are not able to focus long enough to empathize with you?
- What if their occupation did not afford them the time to be a shoulder to cry on?
- Does time limitations make someone less of a friend?
In my opinion, for whatever it is worth, below is what I believe a ‘real’ friend embodies.
- A real friend is not a backstabber. This person does not ‘dis’ you or ‘down’ you or talk negatively about you when you are not present.
- A real friend is one who refuses to speak evil of you.
- A real friend challenges you to be a better version of yourself.
- A real friend will not introduce things (drugs, slander, gossip of authority figures, unhealthy relationships, etc.) into your life that will harm you. An ideal friend would push you toward your goals and dreams.
- A real friend brings joy, light and happiness into your life. You will feel excitement to connect with them again. Events together with this person or group of people will not be a drudgery. You will never have the feeling of ‘walking on eggshells’ when you are around a real friend. Conversations will flow easy with a real friend. You will not have to pretend to be someone you are not.
- A real friend loves during painful times. They make not always be hands on but they hold compassion towards you however they are able.
Do you see these qualities in your friends you associate with? Even more importantly, do you see these qualities in yourself? What would you add to the list? Do you agree? Disagree? Please share and compare notes with those you love. Leave me a comment below. I can’t wait to see how others view the definition of a real friend.
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