If you think that everyone in your social circle is a true friend, be prepared for disappointment. Some of these friends may not be honest with you if it isn't to their advantage, and some may be insincere with you for any number of reasons. True friends are harder to find than are mere acquaintances, but the honesty and sincerity of an authentic friend should not be questionable.
Friends Care About You
The most important characteristic of true friendship is that you care about your friend for her own sake and not because she can do something for you. If you like spending time with a particular person primarily because you both play the same sport or you like going to the same type of show, that person is probably an acquaintance rather than a true friend. The same thing is true if you feel well-disposed toward someone who can help you out with a problem such as getting you a job interview. To find a sincere friend, get to know people based on who they are on the inside and not because of what they can do for you.
If you meet a person you like, the next step is to get to know her. Dale Carnegie, author of "How to Win Friends and Influence People," suggests that the best way to make new friends is to avoid criticism and concentrate on being a good listener. However, friends don't just listen to each other. They also share details of their own lives, including private details they wouldn't tell most people. Sharing secrets like this can make you vulnerable, so people don't usually tell everything all at once. Instead, each friend will take turns sharing more confidences as they get to know each other. One important test of sincere friendship is whether your friend can keep your secrets. If you share a minor confidence and your friend repeats it, you may not be able to trust her enough to say much more.
Friends Spend Time With You
Acquaintances come and go based on situations, but true friends keep spending time together even when their life circumstances change. That doesn't mean they can always see each other as much as they would like, but they still make the effort. After you've established a personal connection with someone you genuinely like and you have shared some confidences together, you will have to keep putting effort in to maintain the friendship. If you know someone who drops all of her friends whenever she meets a new romantic interest, she is probably not a sincere friend.
Friends Are Loyal
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, friendship includes mutual caring, intimacy of some type, time spent together and mutual obligation or loyalty. If you have the first three but not the last one, you don't really have a true friend because you can't rely on this person. If you choose your friends based on who they are, you should be able to tell whether your new friend is a generally loyal and reliable person or not. However, there's no way to know whether your friend is loyal to you personally until a situation comes up that tests the friendship. For instance, if someone starts spreading a harmful rumor about you and your friend stands up for you, then you can start to think of her as a tested and proven friend. Loyalty is probably the single most important factor in sincere friendship.
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