How to know if you’re being a good friend: A checklist

As an awkward middle school girl I would watch episode after episode of Friends, marveling at how cool it was going to be when I was an adult and had a bunch of cool friends and lived in an amazing apartment in New York City. In fact, most of the shows I obsessively watched growing up, involved super close friends. Joey and Pacey on Dawson’s Creek, Doug and Skeeter on Doug, Winnie and Kevin on The Wonder Years, all of them had a best bud by their side, and even though they had their tiffs, by the end of the episode, they were back to being all good.

Having a best friend IRL doesn’t exactly function the same way. In fact, maintaining friendships can be hard, not because friendship is inherently hard, but because our lives are busy and full and as humans we sometimes forget to take a second to step back and make sure we’re honoring the people that hold our hearts.

Think of a time you needed something in your friendship and maybe didn’t know how to ask for it. Did s/he notice you were struggling, and help you out? Or maybe someone went totally out of their way to show that they were thinking about you and loved you. These little spots are the bright stars of friendship, and the following friendship questionnaire can hopefully help you (and me too!) make sure you are being the type of friend you want to be.

Does she always initiate plans?

Hopefully we aren’t keeping a tally of who is doing what, but sometimes we begin to notice certain themes. Maybe your BFF always texts you to hang out, and maybe she’s fine with that. But making specific and intentional plans with someone shows them you want to spend fun magical friend time with them. Making your friend feel welcomed, seen and admired pumps blood into the heart of your friendship.

What’s the most stressful part of her life right now?

Sometimes when we’re super close with someone we forget to step back and think about them as a whole. What is their life like right now? Do they have a new job? A new baby? Being attentive, without prompting or asking, to the stress your girlfriend feels is a really kind and sincere way of supporting her as an individual and helping her feel like she’s not alone.

Are you brave when you communicate?

As I’ve gotten older, I realize how unbelievably important communication is in ALL areas of life. Communicating takes bravery and courage, and when we value communication we give the people we know and love the opportunity to truly know us, and we ensure a trusting and honest playing field for being close. Maybe you’re upset about something, really focus on finding ways to express your frustration, without blaming or losing your cool. Or maybe you want to tell her how much she means to you, but aren’t sure how to do it without being “awkward,” sit down and write a letter until it feels “right.”

Are you forgiving?

Guess what? We’re not perfect. We all slip up and act crummy, even when we don’t mean to. Forgive the small annoyances your friend might sometimes bring. And for the bigger mistakes, forgive them too. Healthy relationships don’t mean you never have conflict, they mean you’re both working genuinely to learn more about how both of you want to have a close friendship. Forgiveness for the win!

Do you always hang out at your house?

I’ve had friendships where I’ve almost never gone to their house to hang out. While I’m not proud of that habit, I have tried really hard lately to break it. Spending time together should be fun and comfortable, so switch it up and make sure you aren’t unintentionally making hang outs exclusively on your terms.

Are you being a good listener?

When our friends are upset we want so badly to cheer them up that we sometimes forget that maybe they just want an ear. It’s sweet we want to find solutions, because we care about them and want them to be happy, but really listening and validating feelings without prompts for what to do next really goes a long way

Are you making yourself available?

Have you ever had a friend who disappears when things are good and reappears when they need someone to talk to? That kind of friendship ain’t no good, and you definitely want to check yourself if you find yourself only reaching out when you feel lonely or sad. Friendship is about experiencing life together, the good, the bad and the weird. Make sure you’re sharing all the joys alongside the harder spots.

Let’s take good care of our friends and ourselves!

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