17 Qualities of a Good Friend You Should Look For

There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you buy. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Please do your own research before making any online purchase.

“Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said, “I’m here for you”, and proved it.” ~ Anonymous

Friends come into your life in all manners and ways. But you should make sure your friend has the qualities of a good friend: someone who is always there for you; someone who is your biggest supporter; someone who sees you, accepts you for all you are – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and still wants to be around. 

It may seem like true friends are hard to find these days and that everyone is either out to get you or get something from you. 

This probably sounds strange: I met two people in my early thirties and we instantly just clicked. Since then, they’ve been good friends (dare I say the bestest of friends?), and they have all the qualities of a good friend. 

Do you want to know what qualities a true friend should possess? I’ve got all the details for you, right here. 

What Is a Friend? 

A friend is someone you continuously connect with. It can be a connection over shared interests, values, beliefs, or experiences. You share a close affection with a friend, and you enjoy having them around. A friend can live next to you, on the opposite side of town, 1,000 miles away, or even be someone you haven’t met in person (aka an online friend). 

Friendship comes in various forms and degrees. And you might see a person as a friend, while someone else may not view your relationship with that person as friendship. So, a quick note here: as long as the person is there for you and you both regard each other as friends, you are friends. 

But it’s important to distinguish the kinds of friendship, and some of these friendships overlap. Anyone in these categories can be a good friend. 

Lifelong Friends 

Generally, these are friends you’ve known your whole life, and it’s likely you met in kindergarten or primary school. However, I believe that even friends you’ve met a few years ago (if they are true friends) are lifelong friends because they’ll be walking your journey of life with you

Best Friends (BFFs – Best Friends Forever)

A best friend can also be a lifelong friend. They are typically your closest and dearest friend – the person you share everything with, and you have a deeper and stronger connection with your BFF than with anyone else. 

The person who’s your best friend feels like family; actually, they are family. That’s how close you are. 

Close Friends 

A close friend can also be a lifelong friend, and while you are close with them, you don’t share everything with them. You hold them at a distance, but you do trust and rely on them

Social Group Friends 

Generally, social group friends are people you socialize with, and you are kind of friends (casual friends). They may be friends of friends, your partner’s friends, or just people you know. 

Activity Friends 

Activity friends are people you do stuff with. If you hike, you may hike with a hiking group and some of these hikers become friends – either casual or close ones. They can be gym buddies, friends in your cooking class, or people in your book club. 

Online Friends 

With technology being what it is today, online friends are a real thing. You can be just as close to someone intellectual and emotionally as you are with friends you can see and touch. 

There’s a reason why someone who’s trying to lose weight or achieve another goal joins an online group. They find like-minded friends who end up being their staunchest supporters, cheerleaders, and close friends. 

Friends’ vs Acquaintances vs Family 

Are acquaintances friends, and can family be friends, too? 

An acquaintance is just someone you know. You see them frequently or rarely. They can be a coworker, your favorite bus driver, the barista at Starbucks, or someone you talk to on occasion. 

You don’t share an emotional bond with this person, and you don’t actually know them. It’s more like you know of them. And when you do chat, it’s surface-level stuff like: “How are you?” and “Did you see that Macy’s is running a discount on XX?” 

Family are relatives, family, acquaintances, or friends. My mom is my best friend, my dad and grandparents are my family, the rest fall more in the relative/acquaintance bowl because I don’t really know them and some of them are unsafe for my mental health. 

Why Are Friendships Important? 

Society has us believing that people who don’t have friends are weird and there’s something wrong with them. I don’t believe that’s – always – true. 

Some of us meet our real and true friends much later in life, and while you perhaps feel like you don’t need friends or people in your life, I guarantee that when you have good friends, it adds so much beauty, love, support, and wonderful things to your life. 

qualities of a good friend essay | qualities of a good friend paragraph | 50 qualities of a good friend
The person who’s your best friend feels like family; actually, they are family. That’s how close you are. 

It is important to have good friends (not crappy or so-so friends) in your life. 

A qualitative analysis study published in 2011 states that having friends positively influences your well-being. Good friends help you relieve stress as you have someone who can share your burdens and provide support. You also feel less lonely and isolated. In essence, friends add joy in your life. Having friends can increase your lifespan

Other benefits of having friends include that friendship:

  • Improves your mood 
  • Reduces anxiety, stress, and depression 
  • Helps you reach your goals 
  • Boosts your self-worth and self-confidence

17 Qualities of a Good Friend 

Not every friend in your life is a good friend, but ideally, a good friend should possess all the following qualities. 

Quality #1. A Good Friend Holds Space for You 

Holding space for someone” is a term traditionally used in a therapeutic environment; these days, the phrase has become a buzzword (buzz-phrase?). But what does it mean?

When a good friend holds space for you, it means they create a safe space for you to just be. There’s only comfort and no judgment while you are vulnerable and searching for your authentic self. Your friend is present for you – emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

They lend you their heart and ears, expecting nothing in return. They are empathic and compassionate, accepting your truths without their ego or opinions getting in the way.

Psst… You should also be a good friend and hold space for them. 

Quality #2. They Honor Your Boundaries 

Boundaries are guidelines you create and enforce that teaches people how to treat you. These guidelines establish what you feel safe with and what’s unsafe for you. 

A good friend will respect your boundaries and won’t feel slighted when you say no. They’ll even go so far as to encourage you to uphold your boundaries.

If you do say no or that you aren’t comfortable with something and your friend guilt-trips you, gives you the silent treatment, or behaves passive-aggressively, it’s a red flag.

Quality #3. They’re Kind 

Kindness is often so underrated and overlooked. If your friend engages in “bend over backward” kindness, you’ll likely feel uncomfortable and wonder what they want from you. 

The kind of kindness I’m talking about is just plain kindness. A good friend is friendly, considerate, thoughtful, caring, gentle, and generous. There’s sincerity with everything they do for you, and they never expect anything in return.

Quality #4. A Good Friend Is Authentically Who They Are 

Can you imagine having a “good” friend who is everything you want a friend to be, only to discover weeks or months later that they were pretending? Or wearing a mask and only half of who they are? Or that they only said yes and amen because they thought that’s what you wanted? 

That’s a hell no. 

I want a friend who is unapologetically authentic. A good friend should be the individual they are, and their personality, strengths, and weaknesses should complement my own. Sure, my good friend and I can share interests, goals, and personality characteristics, but we shouldn’t be exact replicas or cookie-cutters of each other. 

Rather, we can mirror each other and still be who we each are at our core. This creates a symbiotic friendship where it just works when we are together, and we can be our own people. 

Quality #5. A Good Friend Is Honest 

You want a friend who is honest with you. You don’t actually want sugar-coated, beat-around-the-bush, half-truths and half-lies. Sure, they probably shouldn’t be so blunt that they are just inconsiderate either. 

A good friend is honest, plain and simple. They help you see reality as it really is or from another viewpoint you haven’t considered.

If you’re thinking the old “I don’t want to hurt your feelings” is a good thing, think again. These kinds of people hide, and they probably lie too. Discomfort is a part of life, and it isn’t authentic or honest to pretend it isn’t. 

An honest friend also lets you know when your words and actions have hurt them. You want someone to be straight with you, and then you know where you stand with them – always.

Quality #6. They Meet Your Love Language 

Love languages aren’t just a thing for romantic relationships. Anyone who loves you – your family, your friends, your partner – should meet your love language. That’s how you know they love you. 

If your friend doesn’t know what your love language is, you can have a conversation with them and ask them about their love language. 

I had a feeling that my BBF’s love language was actually a combination of love languages. Like a typical Libra, she likes gifts, but she also likes hearing that I love her (and no, you should never be shy to tell your friends you love them) and that actions match words. To be sure, I asked her one evening what her love language was because I want her to know how amazing she is and how blessed I am to have her as my bestie.

Quality #7. You Can Trust Them

Can someone actually be a good friend (or well, any friend of yours) if you don’t trust them? I don’t think so. 

There are degrees of trust you bestow on people. You wouldn’t trust a stranger. However, you’ll trust a casual friend a little, you’ll give more trust to a close friend, and you’ll give a lot of trust to a best friend.  

100 qualities of a good friend | 10 qualities of a good friend | 50 qualities of a good friend
When a good friend holds space for you, it means they create a safe space for you to just be.

A trustworthy friend gives you a good sounding board, and you can be fully yourself, knowing they won’t betray you or make you feel ashamed for “being less than” (even though you are always enough).

Quality #8. They Are Nurturing

A good friend is nurturing in a kind, non-overbearing way. They will take care of you and help you when you need it, and they’ll remind you that you need to be good to yourself

Your friend will remind you to self-care, to love yourself, and to be kind to yourself. They’ll push you to prioritize you – because you should have as much love (and more) as you give to others.

Quality #9. They Are Protective of You

Your friend won’t be overprotective because they see you as a possession. Instead, they’ll be protective in a good way. They love you, so they want you to be safe, and they want the best for you.

Your good friend may want to bubble wrap you and maybe knife anyone who doesn't treat you right. You get it, right? You probably feel that way about your bestie, too. The good news is that your friend won’t ever do these things because while they also respect you, they know that you need to live your life. 

But where they can, they’ll walk through fire for you and keep you from harm’s way.  

Quality #10. A Good Friend Actively Listens to You

Most often, people just hear you, and sometimes not even. How many times do people ask you how you are as a reflex and not because they actually care about what you have to say. Or how about someone hearing what you say, but they’re so busy trying to think of a response that they don’t know what you really said or meant. 

A good friend will always ask with intention, and they’ll actively listen. They don’t project a “me, me, me” vibe. When you speak, they are in the moment with you (aka mindful). And they meet you with empathy and compassion. 

Moreover, they never listen to your hopes, dreams, fears, and anything else you may babble about out of obligation – they listen because they care about what you have to share. 

A good friend also never just gives advice because they can. Their first objective is to listen to you, and they should ask if you’d like an ear, a shoulder, help, or advice. 

Quality #11. They Have Your Back

A true friend always has your back – they’re your biggest supporter and your loudest cheerleader. They are always there for you – whether there’s something to celebrate, whether it’s just a normal, boring day, or whether there are obstacles, sadness, and dark times.  

In essence, they are your lifeline, they are always available, and they always give 150%. They give emotional support when you need it. And they are your accountability partner.

Quality #12. A Good Friend Sees You 

What I mean here is that a true friend sees you as you are: perfectly imperfect, imperfectly perfect, amazingness and warts. A true connection is an almost clairvoyant connection where a good friend seems to know what you need – without you saying anything or sometimes even when you didn’t know. 

It’s like a Spidey sense. They just show up at the right time and have the right words. 

They offer a sanctuary where you don’t feel uncomfortable being seen and heard. It’s a safe haven, and you can relax and know they genuinely love and care.

Quality #13. They Are Huggable 

This may sound bizarre, but a good friend should be huggable

I’m sure you’ve had some awkward hugs in your life from friends or distant family. These kinds of hugs are yucky

While you may not want to go hugging your bestie all the time, there are times when a hug just puts your soul back together and is what you need. A hug is a “I’m here for you, I feel you, I see you” message

It’s comfort and care and love

And if you and your friend are serial huggers, I say it’s a win-win. Why care what others think? You should live your life your way, and as long as you and your bestie are comfortable with how much and often you hug, then all’s right in the world.

Quality #14. They Have an Open Heart

This one ties back to #1 on my list, but it is also kind of separate. 

When you have a soul-to-soul connection with a good friend, you bare your soul, open your heart, and keep space for someone where they can leave parts of themselves (and know that you’ll keep those pieces safe and treasure them). 

Quality #15. You Can Have Deep, Soul-Filling Conversations 

With my besties, we cover the basics and surface level stuff. I want to know how they are, how their parents are doing, how their day went, and if my favorite tea is on a discount. 

But most of our conversations go so much deeper than that. We often have deep conversations about any topic that comes up. 

Nothing is really off limits because we know we are in a safe space, and we respect each other’s views. So, we can talk about politics, money, religion, the meaning of life and death, and stuff that’s seen as taboo. 

These are the kinds of conversations where you really get to know someone, and they are medicine for your soul.  

Quality #16. They Don’t Just Reach out When You’re Needed 

A toxic friend is someone who only reaches out when they need something from you. And when they do something for you, it is usually because they are playing you and buttering you up before they make their request.  

This kind of person isn’t any kind of friend

five qualities of true friendship | 6 qualities of a good friend | qualities of a good friend quotes
Your good friend may want to bubble wrap you and maybe knife anyone who doesn't treat you right.

A real friend knows that friendship is a two-way street. They give and take, and you give and take. There’s reciprocity and balance, and even though the give and take isn’t 50-50 all the time, it equalizes so you never feel taken advantage of

You know when your good friend reaches out that it’s because they care about you and that you matter to them. You feel heard and valued – and your bestie puts your needs first (in a healthy way), knowing that you’ve got their back and prioritized their needs. They’ll rather want to give than take. This is how you know that you are safe with them. 

Quality #17. A Good Friend Is Genuinely Happy for You 

Life isn’t just about the moonlight, sunshine, and roses. It also has its darker sides. You may find that some friends are only ever around when things aren’t going so well for you. I mean, they’ll rather listen to you complain about stuff (and more likely, they’ll try to make their lives sound worse – like it’s some kind of competition). This isn’t a friend, by the way. 

And when you do share good news with these kinds of people (since we’ve established they aren’t friends and healthy for you), they undermine your success, they get jealous and petty, or they change the subject so quickly you don’t even know what hit you. 

On the other hand, a true friend will want to celebrate your every win and your every success, and they’ll be there for you, holding your hand, when times aren’t good. They won’t begrudge you

Your wins are their wins (because they want to see you happy and succeed in life). 

Final Thoughts on Qualities of a Good Friend 

It’s quite the list, right? And these qualities of a good friend outlined here isn’t an exhaustive list… but they are some of the most important

I can honestly say that my two good friends possess all of these qualities, and I’m very blessed to have them in my life. Does the person you consider to be your good friend also share all or most of these good friend qualities?  

If you want to read more about friendship and learn how to be a better friend, check out our 8-step process guide on how to be a good friend.

toxic work environment quiz | 100 qualities of a good friend | 10 qualities of a good friend