The sign of a true friend is someone who will stand up for you when others are criticising you. They will not only defend you when others say bad things about you, but they will also avoid gossiping about you. They may not agree with everything you say and do, they may not even like everything about you, but they will not let others know this.
Friends must treat each other in a polite and kind way. When this doesn’t happen, or starts to get worse, other positive aspects of the friendship begin to disappear as well. Friends stop trusting each other, they become less honest with each other and they find they cannot approach each other as much as they used to. At that point, the friendship could be said to be over.
Does someone turn to you first to share a problem or seek help? Do you respond by listening and offering advice or help? Are you willing to make yourself available to that person at short notice, to spend time with them even though you are busy and have your own problems? If so, you can certainly call yourself that person’s friend. Many people say that the most important feature of a good friendship is that both people can go to each other at any time without fear of being told to go away.
When a friend tells you something personal, it is important for them to know that you will keep that information confidential, and not tell everyone at the first opportunity. Friends have often fallen out, and friendships ended, when one person has passed on information that was supposed to be a secret between them.
Part of being a good friend is about being willing to pay attention when a friend has something to say, and to show interest in what they are saying. This sometimes takes time and effort. However, it is important to realise that communication is not a one-sided thing. If one friend only approaches the other when they want to talk about themselves and doesn’t make the effort to hear what the other person has to say, then that friendship is not going to last.
Good friends sometimes have to tell each other what they really think, and not just what they think the other person wants to hear. The problem with telling a friend the truth is that there is the fear that person will not only reject what you are saying, but will reject you as well. The sign of a good friendship is when you can tell someone what you really think about them, without that person being offended.