Decide if Your Friend is a True Friend

If you're having trouble deciding whether your friend is a true friend, then your relationship is already on the rocks. Friends are a dime a dozen, but true friends are something far rarer, and far more rewarding. Luckily, they're also easy to spot.


How True Friends Talk

  1. True friends offer supportive comments and encouragement. Real friends make you feel needed, confident, and happy. Everyone needs a little positive energy here and there, and true friends have it in spades. Even when they disagree with you ("that hat looks like it came from a dead opossum") they still support you the best they can ("but, at least, you're rocking it!").
    • If your friend gives you genuine compliments, on everything from your new outfit to your work ethic, it's a good sign.
    • Encouragement, even over dumb little things, is a good sign for both of you.
    • See if your friend is your cheerleader. Though your friend doesn't have to always cheer you on, if your friend is a good friend, then they should be your fan and should always root for you to succeed.
    • If your friend always dismisses or one-ups your successes ("You got an 85 on the test? That's cool, I got an 89"), puts you down, and/or doesn't believe you can succeed, then they aren't a true friend -- kick their unpleasant attitudes up the curb.
  2. True friends listen to you. Sometimes all you need is for someone to shut up and listen. True friends know how to close their mouths and open their ears, as long as you can do the same from time to time. They make eye contact when talking, remember what you've told them, and ask thoughtful questions. Notice who does most of the talking. In an ideal friendship, both friends should roughly share the same amount. If you feel like you are always the one listening to your friend's problems, then you're not getting your fair share of the friendship.
    • If your friend is looking around the room and checking their phone every time you talk, or has no recollection of that time you said you were applying to law school, they're probably fake friends not worth your time.
  3. True friends communicate openly with each other. With true friends, you happily share embarrassing stories and secrets, and they share them back. They'll pick up on your moods without cues. "Dude-- you seem off today," for example, may be a guy's best attempt at emotional empathy, but it is still a meaningful sign of friendship. He cares, dude. When things get rough, true friends don't beat around the bush, they have mature, honest conversations that get to the point.
    • If you know how to have a mature talk when you're unhappy, then you have strong communication. If you and your friend are comfortable saying something like, "Hey, I was really hurt that you didn't come to my party the other night" to each other, then you've found a friend worth keeping.
    • If you feel the need to hide things from him or her, can't trust them with secrets or big news, or feel like they don't open up to you about their lives, you're facing yet another not-so-true friend.
  4. True friends keep away from the rumor mill. If your so-called friend is a big gossip, then it's likely that your friend is gossiping about you when you're not around. Everyone loves some juicy gossip from time to time. But if you feel like your friend is always gossiping about someone or talking trash, chances are your "friend" will do the same as soon as your back is turned. Here are some ways to know if your friend's gossiping is out of control:
    • If your friend talks trash about someone as soon as they leave the room, then the friend is a terrible person.
    • If your friend routinely talks about people they claim to be their closest friends, then they're doing the same about you to their other "true" friends.
    • If your friend is always saying negative things about people who aren't around, then your friend is definitely not a true friend.

How True Friends Act

  1. True friends make time for you. Life can be nuts, and it's hard enough to find time to sleep, work, and eat, let alone socialize. But a true friend will always make time for you. If they can't find the time to hang out or talk on the phone, then why are they even your friend?
    • If your friend is good about scheduling phone, lunch, or dinner dates, and always follows through, then you have a good friend. Congrats! Make sure you do the same and make time for them, of course.
    • If your friend never makes time for you, always complains about how life has been "crazy busy," and expects you to work around their schedule, then you have a problem. Especially if they spend their time with significant others or different friends. Everyone is busy; not everyone flakes out.
  2. True friends keep everything 50/50. In an ideal friendship, both people put the same amount of effort into the relationship, whether it's communication, making time to chill, or buying the next round of drinks. It's a give and take, so don't do all the giving if your friend is a taker. Usually, you can feel this happening -- movie night is always at your house, you always call first, they keep borrowing your Simpsons DVDs without asking, etc. And if you feel it happening, cut them off! True friends give back to you without having to think about it.
    • You should both be willing to show affection. Not everyone is a hugger, but everyone has a way of demonstrating that they care for you.
    • Keeping things equal doesn't mean you spend the same amount of cash on people -- relationships aren't bought and sold. It's just about feeling respected and cared for by a friend, however they show it.
    • Don't let your friend always come to you for favors and support, but get busy the minute you need a hand. You should both be reaching out from time to time, not only to ask for help but to offer it.
  3. True friends are true to their word. A flake is not a friend. If your friend never seems to do what they say they'll do, leaves you stranded, or forgets about plans you've made, then you have a flake on your hands, and you don't have a true friend. We've all bailed on a plan or made a last-second switch, but if your friend never seems to do what they say they'll do, then they don't value your time or company. With a good friend: "word is bond."
    • If your friend bails on you more often than not, is wishy-washy about making plans, or skips out on a big or important date, they are a flake. Get some Head and Shoulders and wipe them off your calendar.
  4. True friends don't have other motives for becoming your pal. This soul-searching is particularly hard to do, but it's important. Take the time to reflect on why your friend might want to hang out with you. More likely than not, you're just good friends, and the rest of the "benefits" just happen naturally. There are some classic reasons why a fake friend might find you, but usually, you'll see a few of the other warnings signs if they aren't true friends. Still, be on the lookout for those hoping to latch on to your:
    • Popularity. If Mean Girls taught the world anything, it's that true friends stick around no matter how popular you are. Popularity is a fickle beast, but it doesn't bother your true friends.
    • Wealth. Make no mistake-- having rich friends is fun. You get to do all the things you could never afford! But if your friends only love you for your wealth, they'll be gone before the last penny drops.
    • Convenience. Are you giving them a ride to the office or a chance to look over your homework? Are they giving anything back?
    • Boredom. It is summer vacation, and your next door neighbor is suddenly chummy. School starts and you never see him again. These so-called "friends" ditch you as soon as they find a new group of friends or a new boy/girlfriend rolls into town.

How True Friends Make You Feel

  1. True friends make you feel good about yourself. Your friend doesn't have to agree with everything you've done, but your friendship should make you feel good about who you are as a person. They make the time fly and the world feel conquerable. If you leave a hang-out session with your friend feeling invigorated, excited, or just giggling from the silly time you shared, then you're both killing this whole friendship thing.
    • If, every time you say goodbye to your friend, you feel like you made a mistake, upset your friend, or you're a worse person, then you have a problem. If your friend is putting you down to make themselves feel better, then you have a problem. If your friend makes you feel bad through snide comments about your looks, weight, grades, etc, then -- well, you get the picture.
  2. True friends make you feel valuable. If being involved with your "friend" makes you feel uncertain about your importance in your friend's life, then they shouldn't be important in your life. While a friend shouldn't coddle you with lies, a true friend always makes you feel needed, important, and indispensable. They ask your advice and listen to it, and don't leave your side as soon as the "cool" friend walks in the room. No one has time for dumb games like that -- find someone who does value your friendship.
    • Fake or casual friends might make your feel great in private, but won't even know you exist at parties or in public. They dismiss your advice or thoughts and leave you out of group plans.
  3. True friends make you happy. It seems so simple and obvious, doesn't it? That's what makes it so important to remember. Plain and simple, true friends are those you're happy to be around. If you're less happy hanging out with your friend than you are when you're alone, then you might as well go alone -- this person is a happiness suck.
    • Every person has rough patches. But if you feel like your friend is always going through a crisis and you can't enjoy yourself because you're too busy picking up the pieces, then you have a problem. You're a friend, not a box of tissues.
    • If you don't look forward to hanging out with your friend, keep them away from your other friends or family, or feel burdened to be with them, then they're not really true friends. This time, however, it is up to you to politely excuse yourself.
  4. Follow your instincts to find true friends. If something doesn't feel right, it isn't. Don't follow horror-movie logic, ignoring your bad feelings to get burned later on. If you're unhappy with them, don't feel supported and loved, or can't trust a friend, then don't be their friend. True friends aren't easy to come by, but that doesn't mean you need to settle for someone who treats you like crap. Step back a minute and ask yourself if you really think they are a true friend, or if you just want them to be a good friend.
    • If you're even questioning whether your friend is a true friend or not, then there's a good chance there's a major problem in your relationship. No friendship is perfect, and bumps are bound to happen. But those bumps shouldn't make up the whole road of your relationship.


  • A true friend accepts you for who you are.
  • True friends always have your back. They back you up in tough situations and are always there for you to lean on.
  • Don't weigh positive actions against negative ones. A true friend should not do things such as talk about you behind your back, or steal things from you, or lie to you - no matter how nice that he/she seems.
  • Friendship, like many things, has degrees. Real friendship takes a high degree of commitment from both people; many people can't or won't reciprocate that sort of trust without betraying it. Don't kill a good friendship because it can't be perfect - remember, you won't be able to hold on to true friends if you are in the habit of betraying others.
  • True friends are always there for you.
  • If your "friend" is talking to someone else all the time and never talks to you unless you start the conversation it's not a good relationship.
  • True friends will try to include you in everything.
  • True friends won't lie to you.
  • If they are a true friend, they won't get jealous if you are with someone else.
  • Talk to them about your doubts, but don't accuse them of anything.
  • Always put yourself in your friend's shoes to try to understand what is his/her situation.
  • Always help your friend with his/her problem find a solution.
  • Your real friends won't talk behind your back, they'll say it to your face.
  • True friends are honest, and would never lie about something that is wrong.
  • If they always leave you out of activities, then they are not your true friend.
  • If they start to forget about including you, and always brag about some other friend, talk to them.
  • A true friend respects you.
  • A true friend wouldn't be jealous of you. If your friend is jealous of anybody be careful around him or her.
  • A true friend loves you and is always there when you need them.
  • A true friend doesn't leave out of your friend group, and if they do they shouldn't tell you about it.
  • A true friend will always step in when the world steps out.
  • True friends will stick up for you when you are bullied or getting picked on and they will always have your back no matter what happens or what's going on.
  • If you don't think your friend is a good friend, then they're not.
  • If your friend persistently leaves you in a bad mood, then they're not your real friend.
  • They are kind, helpful, and aren't afraid to stand up for you.
  • Even if your friend is true, they might have some other good friends too, especially during Middle School. Remember that that's okay!


  • Don't lie to yourself about being friends with someone that does not feel the same way for you. Ultimately, you would only be hurting yourself.
  • Don't try to change a friendship that you know you can't change. If your friend is a really bad, abusive friend, then it's not worth trying to fix the friendship. Break ties and find some better friends; it will benefit you in the long run.
  • Don't repeatedly and/or rudely question your friend. You might be doing more harm than good, particularly if your friendship is legitimate.
  • Don't lie to your friends because if you lie to them, you will probably get lied to back. Or, worse, they may reject you as a friend, if you are dishonest about very important things, and they catch you lying to them. If you have to do something drastic, be truthful to them!

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