Friendship is an art built on good habits of relationships. Learn to be the friend you long to have with 25 ideas for strong relationships. We don’t come into this world know how to be a good friend. If we look for the perfect friend, we won’t find one. We will never be the perfect friend either. Friendship isn’t about perfection; it is about connection–and love, and joy, and giving, and being real, and letting others be themselves.
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The Joy of Friendship
Toes splash in the water as three girls play, sharing hearts and enjoying the day. The joy of friendship radiates from their smiles and rings in their laughter. In this moment, friendship seems an easy gift on a warm summer day.
Though some friendships come easily, most relationships are built over time. I remember days when my girls were small. With a tear-stained face, one asked me, “Why doesn’t Annie like me?”
How do I answer that? I don’t remember what I said exactly, but this little slip of a girl already understood that friendship isn’t always an easy thing.
The Importance of Learning to Be a Good Friend
We don’t enter this world knowing how to be a good friend. A big part of growing up involves learning to be a good friend. Remember all those times you had to tell your kids to share and play nice?
[tweetthis]And in reality, aren’t we all still learning the art of friendship?[/tweetthis]
On our hard days, we may be tempted to focus on disappointments in friendship. The friend that ignored our request, the one who betrayed our trust, or the one who left us out. We’ve all experienced a time when a friend didn’t act like a friend, and that is hard, sometimes heartbreaking. The rejection or betrayal of a trusted friend can wound and isolate us if we let it.
Sometimes those disappointments are what they seem, but others we may not have the whole story. When we shift our focus to being the friend we’d like to have, we begin to love others with our best self. The one that is secure in Jesus and ready to share his love with others. Which one of these ways of friendship creates a deep gladness in your soul? What is one thing you can to do today to be a good friend?
25 Practical Ways to Be a Good Friend
Build strong friendships with these helpful ideas for mastering the art of friendship.
- Take the initiative to invite friends to do things rather than wait for someone else.
- Be an encourager. Develop the habit of cheering for others and celebrating friends.
- Never underestimate the power of laughter and silly fun.
- Reciprocate—good friendship is a two-way thing. It can be hurtful to invest in a relationship and not have it reciprocated.
- Be reliable—show up and value being on time. Try your best not to disappoint friends who are counting on you.
- Follow through. Avoid vague comments, “Let’s get together soon.” Make a specific plan and follow through.
- Schedule time for friendship. It is an important part of life and not just a luxury. Stop feeling guilty about spending time with friends. Seriously, stop it!
- Be intentional. Don’t let busyness crowd out friendship. The busier you are, the more important it is to plan ahead for time with friends.
- Refuse to gossip and find a graceful way to squelch rumors when you hear them.
- Keep confidences. When a friend asks you not to repeat information, honor that request.
- Share the load. Volunteer to help, to listen, or to console when it is needed.
- Be real. Be brave about sharing your needs and struggles when appropriate.
- Give the grace-gift of belonging. Welcome newcomers and include others. You may have a set group of friends, but be willing to make room for more.
- Sit beside someone you don’t know well rather than always sitting with friends.
- Ask good questions that draw others into meaningful conversation. Small talk has it’s place, but sharing our real stories draws people together.
- Don’t monopolize conversations or only talk about yourself. Give the gift of a listening ear.
- Be thankful—a cherished friend is a gift from God.
- Give a thoughtful gift or send a note of encouragement. Texting is great, but old-fashioned snail mail never gets old.
- Don’t hide or excuse your mistakes and weaknesses. We all have them.
- Avoid the trap of comparison and envy. Recognize these destructive thoughts and get rid of them.
- Be careful with expectations. Many feelings get hurt due to unrealistic or unmet expectations. Sometimes we don’t even realize we have them.
- Be quick to give and ask for forgiveness. Treat others the way you want to be treated in this difficult area of relationships.
- Let go of judgment, comparison, and criticism. Assume good will, giving others the benefit of the doubt.
- Pray for your friends and invite Jesus into your relationship. He knows how to be the best friend of all.
- Give your friend the biggest piece of cake.(I learned this one from my mama.) And don’t hog the last piece of chocolate…
We may not be able to do all of these things at the same time or keep it up all the time, but we can all do some of these things more often. Friendship is an art built on good habits of relationships. Let this list of practical ideas spark your own list of best practices for building strong relationships.
Which one of these habits has made a difference in your friendships? Which one do you want to work on? Let’s encourage each other through leaving comments today.
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I’m honored that this post was featured at For Every Mom! I hope you enjoyed this updated version of one of my articles with the highest traffic over the years. For more content on friendship, check out the friendship chapter of my book, Holy in the Moment, or enjoy one of the related posts below. *This is an affiliate link at no cost to you.
More posts on friendship:
- Are You Well-Dressed for Friendship?
- Three Kinds of Friends You Don’t Want to Do Without
- Do You Have the Gift of Girlfriend?
- I Give You Permission to Spend Time with Friends
An eye-opening list, Ginger. For me, #1 has been most helpful in forming friendships over the years. Without hesitation, I’m still working on #25. Hey, I’m an only child. What can I say? ha!!!
Hi Ginger … love these practical, down-to-earth ideas. Sometimes we need to have the common sense spelled out for us in black and white so we can see that the next step isn’t all that hard after all!
My favorite? #25. It’s all about the chocolate, isn’t it!
Have a great one …
Oh yes, the chocolate goes a long way:) So glad you found some practical inspiration here today. May God bless you with rich time with friends and family this summer!
Don’t say “let’s get together soon” and don’t compare yourself to your friends…those two are my favorites among this great list! I admit that sometimes I say that very unspecific line to friends. I need to start being more proactive about making concrete plans! Also, the comparison one can be a difficult one for me. All of my best friends are married, many of them have children. I feel a little behind sometimes. Thanks for your words, Ginger!
The reason why I know to put the nebulous “let’s get together soon” is because I do that too often. I have good intentions, but in the reality of time and planning, I fail to make it happen. I’m working on this one! I can understand the comparison temptation. We all face it in some way. Thanks I’m so glad you stopped by today!
I love this list. Thank you for the practical and authentic ideas for friendship. I love your suggestion of giving someone the gift of belonging. That is what it is all about. Have a blessed rest of the week.
We all need to feel like we belong. That’s one of the reasons why friendship can be so important. Blessings today, Mary!
Friendships are some of my very favorite blessings, so I’m glad to see a post encouraging that. Thanks for linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.
“Raindrops on roses…” Yes, friendship is a favorite blessing. Have a wonderful weekend with your family and friends.
This is such a great list. My husband taught me that first one…don’t wait for someone else to take the initiative on getting together, and don’t keep score either, on who takes the initiative. And snail mail…I love getting real mail. I should send someone a card today.
Yes, snail mail is a treat. And good for you that you’ve learned not to “keep score.” I’m grateful for time with friends. I had an unexpected, but fun, visit from a sweet friend today. Loved it. Thanks for stopping by today, Dawn. Have a good weekend!
yes yes yes! Loved every bit of this post!
So glad you loved it. Sometimes I need to pull my head out of my routine and refocus on relationships. Hope you have a lovely weekend!
Thanks so much. So nice to see you here at Ginger’s Corner. I love visiting your blog with all your lovely photos!
So far I haven’t had much luck with friendships. I try to give it my best shot and be the best I could be, while developing the habits from that list, but so far, they were not reciprocated. I am still seeking out Godly friendships and pray that the Lord will open long-lasting, true friendship doors, and that I too will be a true friend.
Blessings to you and have a blessed weekend.
Friendship can be quite a challenge. I know that God will bless your desire and efforts for a true friend. It can be so discouraging when our efforts in friendship are not reciprocated. Praying God will open the door to a sweet friendship soon.
Friendships are very difficult especially as you get older and your seasons start to change. Some people are in seasons where they have children and in my case I don’t have children. So making time for friendships become difficult. I think the goal is to become more creative and making sure no matter what we make time to cultivate the friendships. I know lately the Lord has been helping me to cultivate new friendships as well as renew old ones. I will definitely keep these tips in mind.
I agree, some seasons are harder than others. I love the way you are committed to making time for friendships. Isn’t it fun to see God help you cultivate deeper relationships? Thanks for visiting Tona!
Love all 25 – so hard to narrow it down to one! However, I am so GR8TFUL for the girlfriends who have been intentional to schedule in person time with me or FaceTime via the cell!
I love this list, Ginger! Especially the last one about giving your friend the biggest piece of cake! Your mom is a smart lady!
Love this! 🙂