You may know many people you consider acquaintances or companions, but which of these people would you call your true friends? Friendships increase your sense of purpose and belonging, improve your sense of self-worth, give you happiness and reduce your stress levels. They may also help you cope with unexpected trauma in life. With all the benefits that come with having and keeping a true friend, it is important to know which of the people you know fall into this category and what kind of characteristics define a true friendship.
Honesty is a characteristic of a true friendship. A good friend is someone who will not hold back the truth from you because she knows that hearing it is in your best interest. She will be honest with you even at the risk of hurting your feelings. Dr. Alex Lickerman, general internist and former Director of Primary Care at the University of Chicago, reports on "Psychology Today" that a true friend has enough mercy to correct you when you are wrong, and confront you when you are doing something she knows is not good for your well-being.
2. Unconditional Love
If you know your friend will accept you no matter what and continue loving you despite your actions, you are probably involved in a true friendship. Ron Edmondson, Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church and specialist in organizational leadership, states that a true friend loves at all times, and will not only be in your life for a season, but forever. True friends can weather relationship difficulties, forgive each other when necessary and love even when it is hard.
3. Help You Face Hard Times
A true friend will help you face the most difficult times in your life with confidence knowing you have an unwavering support system behind you. Sheldon Cohen, psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, states that strong social support helps you cope with stress, and that a true friend may provide material aid and emotional support. She may also encourage you to take better care of yourself in order to be able to handle your daily challenges.
True friends do not judge each other, and a solid friendship will provide a safe place a midst others who may be critical of your actions. The staff of the Mayo Clinic states that friends should give each other room to grow, space to change and permission to make mistakes. If you are in a true friendship, you should be able to freely express your emotions without being afraid of an adverse reaction from the one you trust.