As you go through life, you will encounter many people. Some of them will be only acquaintances, while others will become friends. True friends are rare; you may have only a few true friends in your life at any given time. There are several recognizable characteristics that true friendships posses that other relationships lack.
A true friend listens to you. You can express your feelings and talk about your experiences - good and bad - with a true friend. Likewise, if you have a true friendship with someone, you will allow your friend to talk with you without interrupting when he has a problem, good news or an experience to share.
According to Psychology Today, a true friend will tell you things you do not necessarily want to hear about yourself. For instance, if a friend notices you haven't been eating, she will find a way to confront - not criticize - you about it. True friends care more about your health and happiness than about the friendship itself. In other words, your friend will confront you about unhealthy habits, even if it means losing your friendship.
Trust is another sign of a true friendship. A true friend earns your trust, and you know that he will not betray you or stab you in the back. In a true friendship, you are able to confide in each other and know that the information you share with one another will not be shared with others.
It's difficult to maintain a true friendship if you don't make it a priority. True friends maintain regular contact with one another, whether by phone, social networking sites, email or in-person meetings.
Coach Carolyn Baana suggests that true friends give with no expectations of receiving anything in return. Real friends give their time, love and care without expecting to receive anything back.
You are comfortable being who you really are in a true friendship. If you feel you cannot be authentic around your friend, you will not be able to form a true friendship with her.
True friendships involve two people who support each other no matter what. It can be difficult to know how to help a friend who's facing a difficult situation, though. Call him, even if you don't think he will answer the phone, and leave an encouraging message he can listen to later. Send an inspirational card to your friend in the mail or send him an email letting him know that you're there for him if he needs anything.
According to executive and life coach Sharon Mikrut, real friends accept each other - flaws and all. A real friend accepts you for who you are, whether you are organized or disorganized, extroverted or introverted, on time or habitually late. Although a real friend may inspire you to be a better person, she does not try to change you into the person she thinks you should be.
True friendships are nonjudgmental. Your friend may not agree with or like everything you do. He may even express an opinion about the things you do, but he will not judge or belittle you for your decisions or behavior.
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images