Friendships are vital to the human experience, providing emotional, social and physical health benefits to individuals with quality friendships. There are no specific requirements for a friendship -- however, deep friendships often share similar values that encourage healthy interaction, such as honesty and respect for one another, and good friends generally provide each other with emotional support. Madeline Vann, MPH, health and medical writer with Everyday Health, notes that it's important to select friends that can help increase your happiness -- not hinder it.
Honesty and Trust
Honesty and trust lay the foundation for all healthy relationships, including friendships. Without honesty and trust in a friendship, friends may find it difficult to share personal information with one another, and may not seek each other out for emotional support, leading to a shallower relationship. If your friend ever asks for your opinion about whether or not her outfit looks good on her, be honest with her. Use tact when being honest with friends, though, and don't share private things that they tell you with others.
Another foundational element of a healthy friendship is respect. Clinical psychologist, Dr. Joel Kimmel, says that one way to show respect to friends is by taking their thoughts and feelings seriously. Respect is also shown by valuing, and not undermining, your friends' decisions. If your friend wants to date a person and you don't quite agree with her decision, you can still respect her choice without being judgmental. Respect your friend enough to "agree to disagree" while still keeping your friendship intact.
Healthy friendships are those where friends both talk and listen to each other. Communication should be respectful, truthful and considerate of others. When conflicts arise, you should be able to express your concerns without the fear of things getting too heated or turning violent. During disagreements, be sure you are calm enough to respectfully express your concerns. When friends become too angry to respectfully express themselves, encourage them to first calm down to ensure that they don't say something they will later regret.
Support and Encouragement
Good friends support and encourage each other. A good friend is there to encourage you to pursue a particular interest or help you find the confidence you need to start your dream business. When difficult times arise, encouraging friends can give you the support you need to survive and thrive through your troubles. Also, if you desire supportive friends, it's important to provide this quality to your friends as well.
K. Nola Mokeyane has written professionally since 2006, and has contributed to various online publications, including "Global Post" and Modern Mom. Nola enjoys writing about health, wellness and spirituality. She is a member of the Atlanta Writer's Club.