True friends share the best and worst that life throws at you.

How to Determine Who Your True Friends Are

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Few things are more painful that believing that someone is a true friend who can be counted on in a pinch and then discovering that the person is a fair-weather friend at best, an enemy at worst. However, there are qualities by which you can recognize a true friend. Instilling these qualities in yourself will help you identify and draw true friends to you, enriching your life and theirs with love.

Three S's and Three A's

There are three marks of a true friend that begin with s, according to pastor and teacher Dr. Adrian Rogers in “Marks of a True Friend” on his website. A true friend sharpens you by challenging you to be a better person. She is steadfast and will not abandon you when the road gets bumpy. A true friend speaks the truth, even if it hurts, confronting you when you are on the wrong path. Rogers says that true friends are also identified by certain a's – acceptance of who you are, active in your life and appreciation of you as you are in her life.


You share common interests and values along with a history of things you have been through together, and your friendship is that of equals, according to Alex Lickerman, M.D., in the “Psychology Today” article “What Makes a True Friend?” Lickerman explains that a true friend is committed to your best interests, will challenge you to be the best you that you can be and will never ask you to betray your values. When things are challenging, you can trust a true friend to be in the trenches with you, not just cheering for you on the sidelines.

Of Frodo and Samwise

Although they are fictional characters, Frodo and Samwise exhibit the traits of true friends – loyalty, honesty, encouragement and empathizing through thick and thin. They don’t abandon each other when the going gets tough, even when pursued by frightening wraiths. While they don’t sugarcoat the truth, they encourage one another by looking for ways to get through difficult spots. They understand one another and work better together than alone. Neither loses hope that the other will be capable of doing what must be done and, together, they celebrate victory when the end of the journey finally dawns.

Adversity and Friendship

It can be difficult to recognize a true friend until adversity appears. Many people are willing to be your friend when the sun is shining and everything is great. When the storms come, though, many of those friends will scatter like leaves in autumn. The true friend asks, “What can I do to help?” The true friend holds on tight when your emotions and circumstances toss you around. The true friend is still standing beside you when it’s all over, saying, “It wasn’t easy, but we did it together.”

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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