• Tue, Jan 11 2011

5 Ways To Be a Better Friend, Starting…Now

Let’s own up, here, shall we? We’ve all been guilty of making the offhand comment about our friends, or even outright shit-talking about them behind their backs. We’ve snarkily teamed up on people, been clique-y, been sorry excuses for mean girls.

Well, ladies, all that is about to end. Part of being a good friend, since you asked, is being a good person, and here are five ways you can get to work on that:

  1. Don’t build friendships based on mutual dislike of someone else. We’ve all been there — you hate your co-worker, and so does your new friend, and you’re instantly BFF’s. But haven’t you ever heard that old adage about cheating? If your partner can cheat on someone else with you, they can do it to you, too. The same applies to friendships based on teaming up on somebody.
  2. Look for the good rather than the bad. It’s tempting to compare yourself to your friends — how you look, whether or not you’re in relationships, or how successful your career is. It’s natural to do and almost impossible to stop. But don’t cultivate it — don’t dwell on those comparisons, and don’t give them more credit than they deserve. After all, you’re awesome, and so is your friend, or you wouldn’t hang out with her in the first place.
  3. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn the meaning of the word “no,” and use it. In fact, use it all the time. Use it every time you want to. As in, “no, I don’t want to see that movie.” “No, Tuesday afternoon isn’t good for me.” No, I don’t want to drive 30 minutes to your house.” See? No comes up a lot, and by using it, you not only free your friend up to do the same, thereby cultivating more honesty and less resentment (which leads to shit-talking, which leads to friendships breaking up), but you also free yourself up to say yes when you really mean it.
  4. Dole out compliments…and mean them. Make it a point to say something nice, that you mean. Tell her how hilar she is, or what an awesome job she does parallel parking. Whatever. Build your friends up.
  5. Listen, and don’t judge. I know it’s tempting to think less of your friend as she wails about her partner who stands her up and doesn’t return her calls. But my advice to you is to get off your high horse — we’ll all go through our own shit eventually, and we’ll want our friends to be by our sides, judgment-free. Try to drum up the compassion to understand that your friend is going through a rough patch, avoid giving unsolicited advice or talking down to her, and just be there for her. Insta-good-friend karma.
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  • Echo

    Your repeated use of the word ‘shit’ was very off-putting. As a writer you should be able to express yourself without resorting to vulgar language. It turned me off to what you were writing about.

  • Hall

    I guess I swear too much because I really didn’t notice you saying shit. I thought the article was great & quick to the point. I’ll be sharing it with my sisters.

  • Emma A

    If shit is vulgar, than I am in trouble. Great article.

  • Allison

    I REALLY struggle with number 2. It’s hard because my best friend and I are both pretty much on the same life path, and we are both rather competitive. She is also very quick to be judgmental and disdain. I find myself not telling her about things. I recently started running races, and I haven’t told her a word about because I’m worried she’d throw herself into it and start a nasty cycle of competition. Sigh. I know it’s both our faults. Why is being friends so complicated?

  • Outshined

    She said “shit” 3 times, whatever. The article was great. #6, defend best friend against mean blog commenters.

  • Julia

    Ditto, I didn’t even notice ‘shit’. Great article. Friendship is so important, our focus is usually on our relationships with men. We really have to invest in our mates (yep, I’m Australian).