Friendships are a psychological “vaccine” against both physical and mental illness
-Sias and Bartoo (2007)
Friends are crucial support systems in one's life. PsychCentral states, “Support systems provide us guidance, help us acquire new abilities, keep us on track, and hold us accountable to do what has to be done,”. All of us have been through those hard times in life where we thought we couldn't go on until a dear friend gave us the much-needed hope that everything is going to be okay.
In theory, family members also fulfil the role of being a support system for a person in need. However, in practice, family members can sometimes tend to be either comforters or nay-sayers. This unpredictability makes it hard to trust that what they say is based on logical reasoning, which can be a very confusing experience for an individual who seeks guidance.
Friendships help people adapt to major life transitions such as entering college and the workforce, getting married, having children, losing a spouse, or retiring. A study by Gupta and Korte states, “Individuals who identify lifetime friendships have been found to be better adjusted than their friendless peers”.
Needless to say, friends are “bae” and we should always remember to appreciate their amazing presence in our life. So, this Friendship Day, we have curated for you a list of some qualities that are indicative of being a true, supportive friend:
Believes in Open Communication
You may not always completely agree with your friend, and that’s perfectly fine!
Good communication is the basis of a true and enduring friendship. It entails being open to accepting the other person's perspective and needs, as well as constructively trying to explore each other's differences — without accusing, disrespecting, or trying to humiliate and control each other, or insisting that one is always “right” or “wrong”.
Builds Relationships On Trust And Loyalty:
No one likes being in a relationship where one constantly doubts themselves and feels unsafe.
In friendships, as in all relationships, trust is one of the foundational requirements. To build and deepen friendships, we need trust. Trust allows us to feel safe with friends — safe to make plans, safe to share ourselves and our lives. Trust requires that we keep our promises and show demonstrations of dependability, respect, and honour. Without trust, there is no legitimate foundation to forming emotional closeness, and the risk of being hurt recurrently intensifies.
Respects the Concept of Boundaries:
You understand and respect that your friend has a life outside your friendship.
Setting friendship boundaries is a way of protecting yourself from emotional and physical behaviour that makes you uncomfortable. A good friend creates relationships that avoid discomfort and any harm to personal safety. Beyond basic safety, these boundaries promote comfort and happiness within your friendship.
“Empathic individuals are more likely to help their friends, and provide support during difficult times,”
Empathy is the ability to spontaneously identify with another person on an emotional level. Essentially, you’re giving the other person a chance to express their emotions, while letting them know that those feelings have been interpreted correctly and are accepted. A friendship or romantic relationship that lacks empathy and understanding will soon flounder. When people only think of their interests, other people in the relationship suffer.
We all have that one friend who only reaches out when they need something. Right?
No one wants to be on the receiving end all the time. Everyone wants to be liked and loved for who they are, not for checking boxes that others have set for them. A friend who does not expect you to behave in certain ways, or say specific things, or gives to receive, is a truly supportive friend.
Some people reach the point where instead of being a friend, they feel more like a caregiver.
We discussed previously, how being loved unconditionally feels amazing, without having to worry about expecting something in return. However, it is essential to understand the concept of reciprocating feelings and having a balanced relationship.
"True support is about encouraging someone's growth as a human being.”
Our personal preferences or our desire to learn new things are also directly connected with our friendships. This influence may be relatively trivial, but it might significantly impact our growth and mindfulness.
Gives Constructive Criticism (When Needed)
“ No one likes a minion.”
While it may not always be fun to be the one to break it to them, true constructive criticism isn’t the same as judgement. A true, supportive friend does not shy away from telling them how much they appreciate their friendship/relationship and that is why they are sharing this with them.
Remembers Little Details
You know that fuzzy little feeling when someone remembers small, irrelevant things about you
We all love being reminded that we are needed and cherished in a relationship. Remembering little details means you pay attention and truly care. It makes us feel happier and more secure with our friends. Furthermore, it makes us feel grateful to have them in our lives, which in turn, helps us appreciate who we are within relationships — improving the overall well-being of the relationship.
Makes You Happy
It's always a good time!
Probably the most obvious and the most important. Yes, friends make our lives happier, as anybody will testify. People with a good circle of friends are happier. While happiness gets us more friends, more friends make us happier too. It works both ways. A total win-win!