5 Simple Ways To Be A Better Friend

A short list on becoming a better friend.

1. People will talk about you behind your back — good or bad.

You’ll find yourself complaining about the little things about your close friends to your other friends. This isn’t shit-talking. You do this because 1) maybe you want some opinions before confronting the person 2) maybe it’s too petty to bring it up directly 3) maybe it’s not really a good idea go up to that person and point out every single little thing you dislike about him/her even if you want to be real. So what? Your friend may be doing the same thing. Just give them the freedom to vent about you to other people.

What I’ve learned: Don’t get offended or upset when you find out someone has talked about you. Forget about it because nobody gets along perfectly. Also, realize that when you’re always the last person to find out….perhaps there’s an underlying reason why your friend isn’t comfortable telling you. You’re hard to talk to? You never changed yourself? You don’t listen? You don’t take constructive criticism well? Always examine your behaviors first before ‘blaming’ someone else. If you’re too curious, just ask the person about it.

2. Then again…if you can’t handle the truth, don’t ask for it.

A very close friend of mine always says, “If there is something about me that bugs you, please please tell me.” She ended up getting offended and wouldn’t see from my perspective at all. So yeah, chances are…your response might be “What?! That’s not me.” “Huh?! I wouldn’t do that.” “No…that’s not true.”

Get this, people usually will point out what you don’t see about yourself, so it’s very hard to see from their point of view. I’m sure someone who’s honest to you wouldn’t make up something out of spite.

What I’ve learned: Even if you really don’t believe in what the other person has to say, keep in mind that you asked for it — don’t get so mad at them. How to not get mad: look at that friend as a whole, is she someone who really care about you? Has she been really negative, critical or sketch from the beginning? I calm down faster when I realize that my friend meant well to me.

3. Give first, but don’t satisfy everybody because you can’t.

When I met someone whom I like and think is worth my investment, I initiate first. I don’t care if I will waste $7 buying lunch for them. Ignore anyone who says you’re ‘trying too hard’ — if it means to gain a friend for life, you better try fucking hard. This is also super important when you live with someone. I initiated the washing dishes for them and cleaning up the communal spaces. Guess what, my roommates clean my mess when I get too busy, too. It feels super good and relieving when you know they’d do the same thing for you.

What I’ve learned: Being sacrificial is one thing you can do to find good friends. Take the risk to “lose a little.” Why? Because you’ll see who reciprocates. Those who do are the ones worth keeping. I’m only sacrificial to the ones I love and care about. Don’t try to please everyone, ain’t nobody got time for that! Remember, don’t expect people to reciprocate. Again, if what you’re doing is conditional…then that defeats the whole point of sacrificing.

4. Put your friends above your significant other, unless you really plan to marry him.

Yeah yeah yeah, you won’t forget about your friends but that doesn’t excuse you from making time for them. After X months being with your SO 24/7, you’ll miss what’s going on with your best friend’s life. By then it might be too late to be on the same page and things will not be the same anymore. When a close friend was with her boyfriend, she told another friend of mine (regarding how we don’t hang out that much anymore) “Well, I’m counting the days down with him so of course I feel more inclined to be with him.” Careful with pulling the “counting down the days” card, you know why? I could have died, I could have moved to another country. By then it’d too late for her because she never spent time counting down the days with me. Get my point from this scenario? Yeah that’s worst case but it can happen.

What I’ve learned:

  • If you’re the one with the SO, make time for your best friends. Home is home (your apartment) so don’t ruin it by inviting your SO over every day. My last semester I considered my apartment a “broken” home because the girls don’t do anything with each other anymore and nobody’s ever home. It was super fun once…
  • If you’re the one without the SO, make time for yourself. Yes, sometimes it hits me that I’m single, but take this opportunity to learn how to be independent.

5. Don’t “try” to be happy.

I have two close friends who always focus on trying to be happy. For example, one’s status on gchat would be “smile :)”, or they would read books and follow it like checking off a “to-do” list and this amuses me. Why? Because until this day I can tell they still aren’t happy. Crying and getting upset doesn’t necessarily mean you are unhappy with life, don’t be that negative! “To be happy, you need to forget to try to be happy: Those are happy (I thought) have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness, on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, you find happiness by the way.”

What I’ve learned: If you realize that you don’t like what you’re doing…drop it! If you’re obliged to do what you’re doing, be creative and find a twist to it! Cliché, but it’s how you make of it. Also, appreciate the ones who make you happy. “The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It’s more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. No one is careful of his feelings or tries to keep his spirits high. The happy person seems self-sufficient and becomes a cushion for others. Because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit.” Do something for them, give them credit for brightening your day.

If you have truly loved certain people, it feels pretty much the same every time – of course different kind of fun and feeling each person gave you, but same fundamental values like sacrifice, trust, and respect. The only difference between love and romantic love is that romantic love entails your desire to get in bed naked with that person. I am way too different from my close college friends but somewhere along our relationships I thank my own patience and willingness to follow the values I have set for myself to make these relationships work. These values I have gained from getting hurt, being happy, loving people, & reflecting on my own actions. This is why I am also completely content with myself and with all the friends I have made in life. I hope you will be, too. Find yourself that anchor, that polaris throughout life. Don’t lose it.

So what?

Love and understand. Be the friend that you want to have. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Danielle Moler

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