5 Things to Look For in a Healthy Friendship



Think about the friends you love most in life. You probably immediately think of some of your favorite things about them or maybe your deep history. Are the things that come to mind mostly positive? Hopefully, the answer is yes. However, if not, you’re not alone. While it seems more common to point out that love is not always enough in romantic relationships, sometimes we forget to remind ourselves that the same is true in all relationships, even friendships. The reality is, the presence of love, loyalty, and history does not always equal the presence of a healthy friendship despite the fact that those things are frequently conflated. Today we’ll discuss five important things to look for when evaluating the health of your friendships and how to cultivate any that are missing.




When it comes to friendships, respect should be absolutely non-negotiable. Why? To be quite frank, it’s common practice to be respectful even to strangers. If those who claim to love you and be a friend to you aren’t able to offer even the same courtesy that they would afford to someone they don’t even know, we’re off to a tough start.


What is respect? According to Oxford Languages, respect is having “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.” In healthy friendships, this means that kindness, dignity, and acknowledgment of the other person’s humanity remain intact, even when there are disagreements and misunderstandings.


A few things to ask yourself:

  • Does this person honor my boundaries?
  • Can we disagree and still remain compassionate towards one another?
  • Does this person care about the things that matter to me?




Trust is another essential component of a healthy friendship. Without respect and trust, there lacks a true foundation upon which to build any other desirable traits of a friendship. Trust requires a bit of vulnerability, as it places an opportunity in the hands of another person to cause pain by betraying it. Trust says, “I believe that you are who you say that you are. I believe that you will do what you said you would do.” Trust is first given in faith and then built and solidified over time as all parties demonstrate their trustworthiness.


A few things to ask yourself:

  • Does this person tell me the truth?
  • Does their behavior confirm their words?
  • Is this person reliable?




Communication is an important part of all relationships but it is especially important in healthy friendships. In addition to being able to clearly express themselves, a very large and important part of good communication skills includes listening. Reciprocity is key in healthy friendships. While it is true that sometimes our contributions to friendships are not equal, they should be equivalent a majority of the time.


A few things to ask yourself:

  • Do I have space to truthfully express myself with this person?
  • Does this person seek to understand by listening and asking questions?
  • Does this person respond well to feedback?




If you ask many people what is important to them in a healthy friendship, support is likely to be mentioned. However, support is not always completely understood. Many people consider support to mean simply cheering along ones every decision, affirming them, and making them feel loved. While support can absolutely include those things, it also includes things like accountability, empathy, and constructive feedback. A supportive friend will hold you accountable to your values and abilities even when it is uncomfortable for both of you. A supportive friend will push you towards your goals and not sit by the wayside in moments when you want to give up on yourself. This is true support in action.


A few things to ask yourself:

  • Does this person show interest in my goals and dreams?
  • Does this person call me out when I need to hear the truth?
  • Does this person show up for me when it counts?




Acceptance means remaining open to learning about the differences between you and your friends. It means being comfortable with who they are while having no agenda to change or modify them. One final sign that you are in a healthy friendship is feeling truly accepted by your friends. While many friendships may start over shared interests or common values, as friendships deepen, areas of difference may come forward. As unique human beings with a myriad of individualized traits and characteristics, it is impossible to be 100% percent aligned in every way with another individual. While it is important to acknowledge what traits and values you may be most compatible with, it is also important to be open to learning to maintain close friendships with people who are not exactly the same as you and practice acceptance in the process. Acceptance allows us to be fully known and seen by people who love us more because of having had the chance to witness us, not despite it.


A few things to ask yourself:

  • Can I be my authentic self around this person?
  • Are they kind and compassionate about our differences?
  • Are they interested in knowing more about who I am?


Healthy friendships are an integral part of good mental health. Intimate community is one of life’s most beautiful gifts and everyone deserves to experience it in its fullest capacity. When you ask yourself these questions about the friends in your life, take a moment to ask yourself the same questions about how you show up in the lives of others. Lean into the answers even if they’re uncomfortable. Just because some of these aspects are underdeveloped or even missing does not immediately mean your friendship is doomed. The beauty of friendship is that it can be a powerful container for growth between people who wish to improve, change and better show up for one another. Perfect friendships don’t exist because perfect people don’t exist. However, the signs we’ve discussed today are an excellent starting point to decide what friendships you want to invest more time and effort into or even invest in at all.


If you’re looking for support with navigating your friendships, counseling is a great place to start. Genesis Counseling of South Tampa can help. Book now to get started!


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