You’ll meet many different people during your life, but true spirits are hard to come by and far more rewarding. Luckily, true friends are pretty easy to spot, and knowing the signs of a true friend will help you figure out who to get closer with and who to stay away from.
Think about whether they offer support and encouragement. You should have people make you feel needed, confident, and happy. Everyone needs a little positive energy here and there, and true friends have it in spades. Even when they disagree with you (“that hat looks like it came from a dead opossum”) they still support you the best they can (“but, at least, you’re rocking it!”).
• If they gives you genuine compliments, on everything from your new outfit to your work ethic, it’s a good sign.
• See if they cheer you on. Though your friend doesn’t have to always cheer you on, if your friend is a good friend, then they should be your fan and should always root for you to succeed.
• If your they always dismisses or one-ups your successes (“You got an 85 on the test? That’s cool, I got an 89”), puts you down, and/or doesn’t believe you can succeed, then they aren’t a true friend — kick their unpleasant attitudes up the curb.
See if they truly listen to you. Sometimes all you need is for someone to shut up and listen. True friends know how to close their mouths and open their ears, as long as you can do the same from time to time. They make eye contact when talking, remember what you’ve told them, and ask thoughtful questions. Notice who does most of the talking. In an ideal friendship or relationship, both friends should roughly share the same amount.
• If you feel like you are always the one listening to your friend’s problems, then you’re not getting your fair share of the relationship.
• If they are looking around the room and checking their phone every time you talk, or has no recollection of that time you said you were applying to law school, they’re probably not worth your time.
Consider whether you communicate openly with each other. With true friends, you happily share embarrassing stories and secrets, and they share them back. They’ll pick up on your moods without cues. “Dude– you seem off today,” for example, may be a guy’s best attempt at emotional empathy, but it is still a meaningful sign of friendship. He cares, dude. When things get rough, true friends don’t beat around the bush, they have mature, honest conversations that get to the point.
• If you know how to have a mature talk when you’re unhappy, then you have strong communication. If you and your friend are comfortable saying something like, “Hey, I was really hurt that you didn’t come to my party the other night,” to each other, then you’ve found a friend worth keeping.
• If you feel the need to hide things from your friend, can’t trust them with secrets or big news, or feel like they don’t open up to you about their lives, you’re facing yet another not-so-true friend.