Healthy relationships with friends are the icing on life’s cake. But it is not easy to form one, especially if you have not been surrounded by healthy relationships in the past. The exciting news, however, is that healthy friendships are a win-win situation. Standing together, friends can encourage each other to do amazing things in life. By understanding the characteristics of a healthy relationship, you can begin to improve and build new friendships.
People in healthy relationships communicate openly with one another. They give more than just a daily update of events; they talk about personal issues in their lives.
Relationships can often end in a train wreck when one person gives and the other only takes. But don’t fall into the trap of comparing every little act of giving and expect it to be countered by an equal act from the other person. Friends in a healthy relationship should simply enjoy giving without expecting something in return, and that goes both ways.
The main ingredient for all good friendships is compassion—when you truly care for the other person's needs as much as your own.
People in healthy relationships are open and honest. They do not hide things of importance from each other, even if it makes them uncomfortable. Lies and cover-ups undermine trust, which is the foundation of a healthy relationship.
When life gets hard, best friends don’t hit the trail running in opposite directions. They stand by each other through thick and thin. They are true to their word and follow through with things they say they are going to do. Faithfulness in a friendship is imperative, especially when tragedy or hard times hit.
Everybody has expectations, which sometimes are not fulfilled. Maybe you and your friend have opposing viewpoints on an issue. This does not mean you need to part ways. On the contrary, people in healthy relationships learn to respect each other's ideas and opinions.
Friends need to learn a healthy process of dealing with differences. This involves listening and healthy communication. For example, never say, “You always …” or “There you go again with …”. It’s always better to listen carefully, ask clarifying questions, and use appropriate “I” messages like, “I feel hurt when that happens because …” or “I feel as if my opinions aren’t being considered when …”. Nobody can argue with your perceptions and feelings. Learn which battles are worth fighting, and which ones are not worth the struggle.
Friends in a healthy relationship are good at getting things accomplished together, but they also know when to set work aside. They like doing fun activities together, or simply sharing a laugh.
Forgiving others does not mean inviting them to trample over you time and time again. It simply means that you put the past behind you and hope for better things to come. If one person continues to deliberately offend the other, repeatedly expecting forgiveness, it might be time to end the relationship.
Your friend should appreciate you for you. You should not have to change anything about your style or personality for somebody to like you.
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James Werning has authored books and articles on various websites. His scripts have aired for more than 15 years on radio stations across North America. He is a small business owner and a world traveler with a master's degree in communications from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
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