Actress Marlene Deitrich once quipped, “It’s the friends you call up at 4 a.m. that matter.” The implication is that only a best friend can be counted on to wake up in the early morning hours to listen to your tale of woe after your boyfriend has left you for another woman. Arriving at that point in a friendship where early morning calls are acceptable is not something that can be taken for granted, however, as only certain people will ever meet the criteria of a best friend.
Desire Your Happiness
A person who is a serious contender for the title of best friend will be interested in your happiness and well-being, even when it is not always in his best interest. For example, a true friend will let you know if the woman you’re dating is lying to you, even if he knows you have a tendency to shoot the messenger. Someone who is always a yes man, on the other hand, is probably best kept in your circle of acquaintances but not elevated to the status of best friend.
In his book “The Fruits of Solitude,” 17th century philosopher William Penn writes, “The Covetous, the Angry, the Proud, the Jealous, the Talkative, cannot but make ill Friends, as well as the False.” By “talkative,” Penn is referring to people who gossip. A best friend will never betray your confidences to another and can be trusted to provide a comforting shoulder while you spill your angst over having been cheated on by your partner, for example. This sort of reliability and trust turns an ordinary friend into a bestie.
A friend doesn’t “judge or condemn,” writes humanist professor and author Arthur Dobrin in his article "True Friendship Means Acceptance and Exhortation" in “Psychology Today.” Someone who is your best friend will not judge you for your faults but rather accept you with all your foibles. Someone who believes in you despite your preference for camping out on the couch rather than taking up a sport is likely to bring out your full potential. This is not to say that a best friend might not point out a shortcoming. After all, true friends care about you and show concern. Rather, she will not elevate herself above you just because you have a messy house, for example.
Be a Good Fit
The qualities you choose for a best friend today may not be the same five years from now. For example, you may currently find it important that a buddy be as interested in camping as you are or have plenty of time to accompany you to the clubs on the weekend. Years from now, however, this may not be the case. A person who is your best friend at one stage may not be in the next, says author Shasta Nelson in her book “Friendships Don’t Just Happen: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends.” After all, few people would choose the same bridesmaids if they were to remarry today, she notes.
- Bartleby.com: Qualities of a Friend
- Psychology Today: True Friendship Means Acceptance and Exhortation
- “Friendships Don’t Just Happen -- The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends”; Shasta Nelson
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