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Responsibilities of a Friend

by Erica Loop

Friendships are complex relationships that can last a lifetime or fizzle out after what seems like a blink of the eye. Whether you're a long-term friend or you've just met a new best bud, you'll take on responsibilities. From being there for each other to mending a disagreement, friendship requires a serious commitment that sometimes is even stronger than your romantic ties.

Telling It Like It Is

Your new guy is a cad in every way, but you've turned a blind eye to his malicious ways. Your best friend doesn't want to upset you, but she can't stand by and lie to you that she likes him in your life. Friends are responsible for telling each other the unpleasant truth, according to Alex Lickerman, vice president for Student Health and Counseling Services at the University of Chicago, in his article "The True Meaning of Friendship" for Psychology Today. A friend has the duty to tell you what you aren't seeing, and vice versa. For example, your friend goes to the local casino almost every day. She thinks that she's just having fun, but her actions say that she may have a serious gambling problem. It's your responsibility, as her friend, to confront her with a truth that she may not want to hear.

Respecting Your Beliefs

A true friend has the responsibility to respect your beliefs. He won't hold your friendship hostage and demand that you go against your beliefs or compromise yourself for the sake of having fun his way. For example, you have a strong work ethic and believe that your professional duties come before recreation. Knowing and accepting your beliefs, a true friend won't pressure you to hit the clubs the night before a major presentation but will wish you well and hold off on partying.

In Good Times and In Bad

Friends aren't just the people who you hang out with during fun-filled nights out. A friend, like a romantic partner, is responsible for being there in the joyous times as well as the rough ones. When a friend's in need, you have the responsibility to listen without judging, act out of compassion and offer workable advice, according to licensed psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walker in "How to Be a Friend Indeed to a Friend in Need" for Psych Central. A true friend won't run, avoid you or drop you for someone else when you have a problem or a major life issue.

Differences of Opinion

There are times when you'll disagree, argue or even feel anger at your friend. Despite the negative emotions that may bubble to the surface when the two of you don't see eye to eye, you both have the responsibility to work through your differences and make amends. If your actions have hurt your friend -- even if your friend has also hurt you -- do your part to make it right by apologizing. Sincere apologies include a statement of regret for your wrongdoing, words that show you truly accept responsibility for your hurtful actions and a concrete suggestion for how to make it right.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

  • Jochen Sand/Photodisc/Getty Images