What Makes a True Friend? 26 Signs to Look For

How do you know if someone is a true friend or not? Finding someone you really click with can be quite a challenge.

Let us first look at the definition of a true friend:

A true friend is someone you can rely on when you need it. They treat you with respect, and being around them makes you feel good. They have your best interest at heart. You feel comfortable being yourself with them, and you can trust them. A true friend can also be called a good friend or a real friend. 

In this guide, you will learn signs that can help you understand the qualities of what makes a true friend.


  1. 26 signs of a true friend
  2. A true friend isn’t perfect
  3. Quotes about true friendship
  4. Books about true friendship
  5. Examples of famous friends
  6. Is this person a true friend or not?

26 signs of a true friend

It’s not always easy to figure out if someone is a good friend or not. Here are some signs you can use to determine if someone is a real friend. Here are 26 signs and qualities of a true friend.

1. They make you feel good

You should feel good hanging out with a friend. And after you’ve hung out, you should leave with a good feeling.[2,4]

If they put you down or make you feel bad regularly, there’s something important missing in your relationship.

2. They accept you for who you are

You don’t have to pretend to be someone else to fit in or feel accepted when you’re with a true friend. They don’t try to change you or make you behave in a certain way.

With your friend, you can put down your mask, relax, and be yourself.

3. They make you a better person

A true friend makes you better in so many ways…

  1. They call you out when you’re wrong (in a constructive manner).
  2. They make sure you’re grounded and have both of your feet on earth.
  3. They keep you accountable for your values and your goals.
  4. They help you live up to your full potential.
  5. And finally, they expect you to be the amazing person you are.

4. They are honest and trustworthy

Honesty is an important part of any healthy friendship. It’s important that you can trust your friend to tell you the truth and keep their promises.

If you notice that they’re lying to you or others, it’s a sign they’re not that trustworthy. Another sign they’re not trustworthy is if they often promise you things or say they will do something.

5. They share personal and intimate things with you

The closer and more intimate you are with each other, the stronger your friendship is.[3,5]

This is about them opening up about the private parts of their lives and their feelings to you. And it’s equally important for your friendship to open up to them. If they open up to you, it means they trust you and value your friendship.

6. They apologize when they’ve hurt you

We get hurt even by those we love, mostly by accident. But a true friend apologizes when they realize that they’ve hurt you.

7. They care about your feelings

You can tell that someone cares about your feelings if they make an effort to make you feel good and comfortable around them. They don’t just ignore how you feel when you see each other it’s important to them that you feel good.

Your feelings are important and carry weight.

8. They want to do stuff you both like

A true friend doesn’t need to decide everything themselves. They’re not dominant and bossy. They want to do stuff that you both like.

It’s even been seen that people strongly prefer friends who look less dominant.[1]

9. They support you

You know that when you’re in a rough spot, your friend is there to support you. Same thing if you’re aiming for a new goal in life, your friend supports you to keep going.

A true friend always has your back.

Note that a true friend shouldn’t always agree with you. When you’re clearly in the wrong – they will let you know (in a supportive manner). Letting you know you’re wrong is also a kind of support – they support you in making good choices throughout life.

10. They listen to you

When you have something important to say, or when you want to be heard, you know your friend will listen. It’s important to feel heard in a true friendship.

It’s a bad sign if your friend ignores what you say and keeps talking about themselves.

11. They respect you

Respecting someone means that you value them as a person. You hold their feelings, thoughts, opinions, and rights in high regard.

A true friend should respect you by listening to you, being honest with you, and trying to keep a good relationship with you. So, respect is something that’s mirrored in most of the signs we talk about in this article.

Read more: how to get more respect.

12. They are interested in your life

A true friend shows interest in your life by asking questions about what’s happening and being curious about any new things happening. A good way to tell if they’re truly interested is if they follow up on things you’ve talked about other times.

13. They keep in touch with you

They call, message, or text you when you haven’t heard from them in a while. They make an effort to keep up to date with your happenings, and they also share what’s happening in their lives. They can also keep in touch through common social media like Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook.

Remember that it’s not all on them, you have a responsibility to keep in touch with them too.

14. They make you feel included

Here are some ways a true friend can make you feel included:

  • They introduce you to their friends and maybe even their family
  • They invite you to social activities with common friends
  • The talk with you in group conversations
  • They don’t leave you alone at social events
  • They don’t make you feel left out

15. They don’t judge you

We all have our flaws and secrets, but any person worth their salt doesn’t make you feel ashamed for that. We should be able to open up to our friends, knowing that they won’t judge us. They let us be whoever we are without judgment.

16. They don’t deliberately hurt your feelings

A REALLY bad friend regularly tries to put you down, dominate you, guilt trip you, or make you feel bad.

In best cases, a true friend never does any of these things. But the important part is that they apologize and try to make it right when you tell them that they hurt you.

Read more: How to deal with people who try to dominate you or make fun of you.

17. They make you laugh and laugh with you

Humor is important. Not everyone can be a comedic genius, but all you need is a stupid joke to share a laugh. Everything doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. With a true friend, you can laugh at life’s challenges.

18. They are happy for you when something good happens to you

When you have good news, or you achieve something in your life, your friend is happy for you.

They don’t get jealous, try to put you down, or try to one-up you.

19. They don’t joke at your expense

Ever had someone said, “It was just a joke,” even if it wasn’t funny? Or “Can’t you even take a joke?”.

Jokes that make you feel bad about yourself are not okay and true friends try to avoid them.

Read more: How to tell fake friends from real friends.

20. They tell you when you’ve (accidentally) hurt them

Sometimes we hurt our friends without even knowing it. It could be something we said or something we did, maybe we didn’t invite them to an event they really wanted to go to.

A true friend would tell you about it so you could apologize and try to fix the situation. A bad friend wouldn’t tell you. Instead, they’d get bitter or start avoiding you. Maybe they’d even become passive-aggressive or talk bad about you to other people.

Note that telling you that you’ve hurt them requires emotional maturity, good communication skills, and that they value your friendship. So, if your friend constructively tells you this, they’re a keeper!

21. They tell you when you’re wrong

A true friend does not always agree with you, they also tell you when you’re wrong or misguided. But they do it in a kind and constructive manner.

Being told when we’re wrong helps us grow as persons and strengthens our friendships.

22. They forgive you

A true friend doesn’t hold a grudge against you because of your past mistakes. They forgive and move on. And If they’re really upset, they bring up the issue with you so that you can solve it together.

Forgiving and forgiveness are important qualities in a true friendship.[6]

23. They don’t just talk about themselves

It’s normal for someone to talk about themselves, but when every conversation is dominated by talking about their life, their relationships, their dreams, their opinions, and their interests, that’s not a good sign.

Read more: What to do when friends only talk about themselves.

24. They are dependable

When you need your friend, they’re there for you. You know that you can count on them to help you out. They’re reliable and true to their word. If they make you a promise, they keep it.

An unreliable friend will often say they’ll do stuff and don’t do it or don’t show up when you’ve made plans.

25. They care about your friendship

Any true friendship should be important to both you and your friend. It means that you value your friendship and hold it in high regard. It means you’re willing to make an effort to keep it going. And it means you’re willing to let go of your ego and apologize if that helps you save your friendship.

26. They don’t feel like a rival

A friend should not be your rival, they should be your ally. That means that anything good that happens to them feels good to you, and good things happening to you feel good to your friend.

You also don’t regularly fight or bicker with each other.[3]

A true friend isn’t perfect

Many points in this list might give the impression that we should expect perfection from our friends. And I want to make clear that isn’t the case. If you expect perfection, nobody can be a good enough friend for you.

Nobody is perfect. Everyone has flaws, and even the best of friends can at times behave badly. So don’t judge anyone too harshly on just one sign from this article – look at the bigger picture. Are they a good person? And are they a good person for you? As long as you’re willing to listen to each other and take feedback, your friendship will grow stronger with time.

If someone respects you and loves you for who you are, you’re lucky to have such a gem of a person in your life.

Quotes about true friendship

Quotes about true friendship can remind us about the important place friendship has in our life.

1. “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” — A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

2. “The best kind of laughter is laughter born of a shared memory.” — Mindy Kaling, Why Not Me?

3. “Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
Walk beside me… just be my friend”
― Albert Camus

4. “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
― Mark Twain

5. “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”
― Helen Keller

Books about true friendship

Books can be a great way to get insight into what constitutes a true friendship because we get to see interactions between people and the inner thoughts and feelings behind them. Here are some recommended books that include examples of good friendships.

The Outsiders by S.E Hinton

The Outsiders is about two significant weeks in the life of Ponyboy Curtis. His relationships with his brothers and group of friends, and particularly his best friend, Johnny, are at the heart of this book. Johnny and Ponyboy share their deepest thoughts with each other and stick together when things get even more difficult for them.

”We’re all we’ve got left. We ought to be able to stick together against everything. If we don’t have each other we don’t have anything.”

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie starts school with no friends but quickly gets to know Patrick and Sam, who are happy to welcome him to their group of friends. Sam and Patrick accept Charlie as he is. They laugh and have fun together, but they’re also there for the tough times and work things out when conflicts arise.

“We didn’t talk about anything heavy or light. We were just there together. And that was enough”

Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are a now-famous trio (although in the books, only Harry is famous) who become true friends after facing a troll together. Sure, that’s not something that will happen to you,  but the book does highlight the important aspects of friendship: loyalty through the good times and the bad.

The book series follows Harry (and his friendship with Ron and Hermione) from age 11 to 18.

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Jess and Leslie become friends when she beats him at running, and they quickly bond over imagination games. Through his friendship with Leslie, Jess learns more about the world and becomes a better person.

This book is one of the more famous books centered on a friendship between kids.

“We need a place,” she said, “just for us. It would be so secret that we would never tell anyone in the whole world about it.” … She lowered her voice almost to a whisper. “It might be a whole secret country,” she continued, “and you and I would be the rulers of it.”

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Geared towards an older audience than the other books on this list, A Thousand Splendid Suns follows two women in Afghanistan: Mariam, a 15-year-old who is sent off to marry a man thirty years older, and Laila, who joins their household two decades later. Mariam and Laila develop a close bond that helps them survive their hardships.

“We’ll take care of each other,” Laila said, choking on her words, her eyes wet with tears… “I’ll take care of you for a change.”

Examples of famous friends

Books and quotes give us insights into what makes up a good friendship, but sometimes it helps to see that real people are out there making good friendships last for a long time. Here are five examples of five real-life famous friendships.

1. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart

Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart have known each other for over forty years but became good friends when they worked together on X-Men twenty years ago. The pair knows how to laugh and have fun together, and they’re there for the important moments: Ian McKellen officiated Patrick Stewart’s wedding in 2013.

2. Oprah and Gayle King

Oprah and her bestie are so close that there are rumors they are a couple. While there is nothing wrong if that’s the case, it could be that society doesn’t know what to make of such a close connection that is not romantic or sexual. The pair have been friends for 50 years: they’ve traveled together, laughed together, and supported each other through their successes and hardships.

3. Bette Midler and 50 Cent

Although they have a 30-year age difference and very different backgrounds, the two bonded over a project when they joined forces to open a community garden in the community 50 Cent grew up in. The two have publicly praised each other and value their friendship.

4. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon grew up together and bonded over their shared interest in filmmaking. They acted together in films and eventually co-wrote (and co-acted in) Good Will Hunting, which they won an Oscar for. Over the years, the two worked together, had fun together by watching sports, and publicly defended each other.

5. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet

The two met when they starred in Titanic together in their early 20s. Although they were young adults when they met, they have now been friends for half their lives. DiCaprio walked Kate Winslet down the aisle when she got married in 2012, they’ve vacationed together, and most importantly, they value each other.

Are you unsure if someone is a true friend or not?

Describe your friend and your relationship in as much detail as possible in the comments below. I will personally answer the first ten comments and give my best advice.

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Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages SocialSelf’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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  1. There’s a guy at work I’m really comfortable with and trust. Because I’m introverted and kind of reserved, I don’t have this level of comfort with many people. Of the 26 characteristics you list, I could easily say he has 24 of them. But say with #13 & 14 in particular, he doesn’t really include me in a lot and doesn’t get in touch outside of work. He’s a very social person with a lot of friends, so I wouldn’t expect or even want to be included all of the time. But I sense he’s very careful with our boundaries.

    At first, I thought he was just generally careful of friendships with women at work (he does mostly hang out with guys, and both of us are in relationships), but here’s what I’ve come up with: He’s less likely to engage in casual togetherness with me, like hugs or sports talk, so I start to think we’re not friends, since he doesn’t seek me out like that but does others. But then if we have a meeting or a study session no one else shows for (we’re often the only two who show), we almost always go way beyond the scheduled time, and a good chunk of that is him talking…often about a recent challenge he went through or something personal you wouldn’t necessarily say to everyone. So there is mutual trust, humor, and definitely when I overcome a challenge and do it well, he’s openly and publicly happy for me. He has also apologized in the past when he did something that bothered me. And when he thinks I’m wrong, he has suggested it for me to consider without harping on it. So he’s important to me and I feel like I’m truly myself with him. I just don’t know how to read our relationship. Is he a friend/work friend or just a really nice guy and I need to not read too much into it? I don’t want to turn it into something more, I’m just trying to figure out how to think of it.


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