Friendship – what makes a real friend?


There are very different ideas about what a friendship is and how a friendship should be. For me, there is no precise definition and no conditions that must be met. For me, however, there are certain characteristics that make a real friendship and only one point that underlies every friendship.

Nevertheless, I do not want to deprive you of the definition of friendship according to the Duden dictionary.

Friendship Definition

According to the dictionary, friendship is a relationship of people based on mutual affection and characterized by sympathy and trust.

While I can agree with this, there is something missing from this definition for me, because I can have sympathy and trust even with people who are not my friends. So what makes a friendship?

Some people have certain expectations of a friendship. If these expectations are met, a friendship exists.

Expectations of a friendship

I know people who put conditions on a friendship. For example, they expect their friends to be interested in them in all respects. That they are asked how they are doing, how things are going professionally and privately and what is new.

Likewise, I know people who expect to see each other regularly in friendship. But not every two months, rather every two weeks. At least.

Friendship consists of interest in each other and regular contact. This is quasi the "compulsory part", from which the friendship results.

Friendship is based on freedom

A friendship needs care, no question. This also includes making an effort to meet up and making room in one’s schedule to make it happen. But a friendship does not need expectations. For me at least. Be it in terms of the frequency of meetings, the amount of attention or the way a friend has to be.

Friendships are relationships with people. And as different as people are, so different can friendships be. Expectations limit and do not allow a person to be who they are.

To what extent a friend is there for you depends on each friend in itself. You can’t expect your own ideas to be fulfilled by the other person. If I accuse a friend of a lack of time for me or a lack of interest in me because he asks me fewer questions or meets me less than I would like, it only shows me that these aspects are not as important to the friend as they are to myself. Such a friendship can be painful and cause dissatisfaction because it is built on different values and the demands of a friendship – at least for one person – are not sufficiently met.

For me, a friendship is always based on the voluntary desire of both sides to spend time together and must be free of constraints, expectations and pressure.

Because they constrict and take away the wings of friendship.

9 characteristics of a real friendship

The following characteristics show a friendship for me:

1. Familiarity

Friendship for me is first and foremost the familiar feeling of having arrived. To be accepted without being questioned. Being accepted unconditionally. The feeling of well-being in the presence of the other person. I have friends that I see every few months and it feels like it’s always the same. As if no time had passed. This feeling is for me an essential point for a friendship. You are familiar with yourself, even though you may not know many things about your friend. And you can meet at any time and continue where you left off at the last meeting.

2. Being able to be who you are

You can give each other the way you are, you don’t have to pretend or pretend to each other. Too often we do just that in our daily lives with the outside influences and expectations of others. With a friend, you don’t feel you have to do this. You can be who you are. One should be as one is and is accepted with understanding with one’s faults and weaknesses.

3. Walking the path together

In a friendship there is no need for a lot of questions about me and my person. I know that not everyone is like that. Even though I take an interest in others myself, inquire about them and want to know what’s going on, there are friends who don’t ask a lot of questions. But they listen to me when I want to talk. They give me answers when their opinion wants to be heard. They let me tell when I would tell on my own. They are just there without asking. I feel taken care of, even if they don’t know everything about me. It’s okay. This is not what friendship is always about. Companionship is much more important.

4. Honesty

Friends are honest with each other. There are enough people who lie to your face because the truth is unpleasant or because they want to make others look bad. In a friendship you can be honest and have the chance to reflect and work on yourself. This honesty, even if sometimes unpleasant, has nothing to do with badmouthing. Because it is done in a respectful way and just shows that you are important to the one who is honest with you, otherwise he wouldn’t tell you the truth.

5. Faithfulness

A friend sticks by you. In good times it is not a problem. A true friend proves to stand by you in the bad times. Even if he doesn’t like what you’ve done, he’ll be with you and support you. He won’t let you fall, he won’t let you run, he won’t leave you alone. When everything turns against you, when you’ve really screwed up, when the temptation is there to leave you, he’s there.

6. Trust

Whatever you tell your friend, you can be sure that he will keep it to himself, if that’s what you want him to do. You also have the confidence that he would not speak ill of you. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t ever criticize you to someone, but it’s in a way that’s respectful and polite and not in a "talking over you" kind of way. And it’s usually something he’s told you himself before. You know this trust in a friend.

7. Forgiveness

Friends forgive each other. If the friendship and the level of attachment are strong enough, friends will find each other again. You will forgive each other and continue on the same path, no matter what happened.

8. Being there

True friends are there for each other, especially in times when things are not going so well. They build up, motivate, support and offer support. Consciously or unconsciously. With a friend, you don’t feel bad about ringing him out of bed at impossible hours, because you know he would be there for you – very gladly, in fact. You give without expecting anything in return, and you take without feeling you have to give anything in return. A friendship balances itself in give and take.

9. Freedom

It does not need regular meetings to prove a friendship. The focus is always on enjoying the time together and not the sense of obligation to see each other. Friendship is always voluntary. The voluntary meeting of two (or more people) who like each other. When this freedom stops, you narrow the friendship.


30 friendship sayings that go to the heart

These selected friendship sayings can help you figure out for yourself what makes a true friendship or what friendship means to you.

  • A true friend is a person who sees your smile, yet senses that your soul is weeping.– Unknown
  • It’s easier to recognize true friends when life gets harder. – Unknown
  • True friendship is felt, not said. Mariecris Madayag
  • You can recognize real friends not by how they praise you, but by how they criticize you. – Chinese Wisdom
  • True friends are people who stay when everyone else leaves. – Unknown
  • If the friendship is real, the distance doesn’t matter. – Unknown
  • A friend is someone who gives you complete freedom to be yourself. – Unknown
  • Some people come into your life late, but it feels like they have always been there. – Unknown
  • A true friend is the one who takes your hand and touches your heart. – Unknown
  • Friendship is a door between two people. It can sometimes jam, it can creak, but it is never closed off. – Balthasar Gracian y Morales
  • The best friends are not the ones you see every day, but the ones you have in your heart. – Unknown
  • Friendship is the connection of souls. – Voltaire
  • I like you not because you are who you are, but because I am who I am when we are together. – Unknown
  • A true friend does not ask when or why. When you say, "I need you!", the only question he asks is "Where are you?" – Unknown
  • If you lose a friend because you were honest, then it wasn’t a real friend either. – Unknown
  • True friends are people who do not ask for your path, but simply walk it with you. – Unknownt
  • A true friend will not stand in your way unless you are going downhill. – Unknown
  • True friends are like stars. You can’t always see them, but they are always there for you. – Unknown
  • The friends you can call at four in the morning, they count. – Marlene Dietrich
  • One true friend contributes more to our happiness than a thousand enemies to our unhappiness. – Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
  • Friendship doubles our joy and halves our pain. – Marcus T. Cicero
  • A relative is part of our body, a friend is part of our soul. – French proverb
  • Friendship should never be taken for granted, for true friendship is almost as rare as true love. – Unknown
  • The friend is one who knows everything about you, and who loves you anyway. – Elbert Hubbard
  • Friendship, that is one soul in two bodies. – Aristotle
  • True friendship is a very slow growing plant. – George Washington
  • Friendship is an art of distance, just as love is an art of closeness. – Sigmund Graff
  • Friendship does not automatically allow you to say unpleasant things to the other person. The closer you are to a person, the more important tact and politeness become. – Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • A friend is a person with whom you can think out loud. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The best way to have a friend is to be one yourself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friends have different tasks

No two friends are alike, and that’s a good thing too. Because friends have different tasks. Consciously or unconsciously you have chosen your friends also for such reasons: to attract people into your life who are good for you and who make a valuable contribution to you.

There are friends with whom you can talk about everything and with whom you always feel supported.

There are friends with whom it is easy to spend time together. They don’t ask questions, they are just there. With them we forget our worries for a moment and simply let ourselves drift.

There are friends who are very sensitive and understanding. With them you are in very good hands with sadness and problems and there are those who do not let themselves be pulled down. Who cheer us up when we’re feeling down and make any problem feel less heavy.

There are friends who often disagree with us. Who broaden our horizons because we look at things from a new angle.

There are friends we admire – their outlook on life, their way of life, their path. From these friends we draw courage and support to find the strength ourselves to go our own way.

Best friends – 4 additional characteristics

Among our true friends there are usually best friends too. They take on a special significance and belong to the closest circle of confidants. There is often a person who is the best friend. But it is also possible to have several best friends. Best friends are often characterized by the following features in addition to those mentioned above:

1. Best friends have frequent contact

Best friends have frequent contact. It can be real meetings or contact by phone or Skype. I know people who are best friends and live on different continents. Distance does not affect a best friendship at all.

2. Best friends know about each other

Through regular exchanges, best friends are well aware of what’s going on with each other. You know the enjoyable, as well as the challenging issues the other person is dealing with right now.

3. Best friends are connected by intimacy

Best friends not only know about each other, but also know the most vulnerable sides of each other. Best friends open up to each other with their pain and fears – with the uncomfortable stuff that you wouldn’t show or tell everyone. Best friends have a special bond and trust due to intimacy.

4. Best friends are always there for each other

Best friends are actually the ones you can ring out of bed at four in the morning. Even if you don’t like to do it. You know the other person is always there for you when you really need them. Calling at night is only done in an emergency. Not to be picked up from a party because it’s more convenient than waiting for the train. Best friends are also the ones you ask for help first when you need help. Be it during a move or because you need someone to talk to. Best friends like to be there for each other with all they can give. Nothing is compensated for here, because no one takes advantage of the other.

Friendship is above all a feeling

For me friendship doesn’t need the same interests, no knowing in and out and not necessarily the same attitude to life. There needs to be a common wavelength that we are on when we meet each other. It’s in the feeling I have about a person. In the value of being together, in the measure of having arrived, which for me is the basis of a friendship.

If this person has the characteristics I mentioned above, he becomes a real friend to me.

And if time passes and at some point this feeling goes away: The feeling of being comfortable. The feeling of feeling good. The feeling of having arrived. The certain ease you feel in the presence of the other person. When a meeting becomes a chore because you’ve known each other for years and continue this routine, even though in the end nothing connects you anymore. When the wavelength that was once there is no longer found, then it’s time for me to go and end a friendship. To make room for new encounters and companions who accompany me on my way and you I may accompany. The ones I need and who need me.

I wish you to have friends. It does not take many, but real!

Have you thought about ending a friendship but don’t know if it’s right or how to go about it? Find with my eBook "End Friendship?" to clarity and learn to let go lovingly. For more time, space and energy in your life.

"Short, concise and to the point, it concludes the theme. Very valuable life advice. Thank you for this wonderful book." – Amazon Customer

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