How to be a good friend?
Times are changing, and so are friendships. Twenty years ago, friendships took work. They were more intentional. If you wanted to connect with a friend, you had to make a phone call. If you wanted to find out every last detail about their lives, you caught up for lunch. If you wanted to invite them to an event, you wrote out an invitation, stuck a stamp on it, and popped it in the letterbox. If you wanted to hear about someone’s recent Europe trip, you sat side by side, pouring over photos, as they talked you through the little memories that each photo sparked for them. Everyone kind of knew how to be a good friend.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
These days, friendship is at our fingertips. Or… at least that’s how it feels. Connecting with our friends is as simple as scrolling through Facebook for ten minutes. We have in-depth knowledge on people who we haven’t seen in years: their vacations, their kids, their studies, their jobs, their relationship statuses. We don’t have to sit across from them and ask “So, what’s new with you?” because we already know exactly what’s new with them. We’ve liked, we’ve commented, we’ve reacted to the Instagram stories. We connect with our friends all the time.
Most of us have a couple of close friends, but for the most part, we’ve actually forgotten how to be a good friend.
We’ve been lulled into the idea that we barely have to lift a finger to keep our friendships alive.
But true friendship is actually an intentional, ongoing commitment to care about someone. It can actually take a little work. And social media interactions alone just don’t cut the mustard.
Do you want to be a good friend? I know I do.
I want to be the kind of friend who sticks out in people’s minds as someone who goes the extra mile. I want my friendship to make people feel lifted up and happy.
So I have brain-stormed a bunch of ways to be a better friend. Challenge yourself to give some of these a go – good feelings guaranteed!
How To Be A Good Friend – 15 Ideas To Try
1. Shout her lunch
Shouting a caesar salad and diet coke doesn’t cost a lot, but it is a really generous gesture. No doubt your friend will “do the dance” with you and insist that she doesn’t need you to pay for her, but you insist right back. Be sincere, look her in the eye, and say “Please, let me do this. I came here planning on buying your meal, and I’d really like to do it.”
2. Send her snail mail
When I was a kid, one of the things I looked forward to most about adult life was having my own letterbox and receiving my own mail. Turns out “receiving my own mail” is actually more like opening the letterbox to find a bunch of bills every day. Break that cycle for your friend and surprise her with a handwritten note “just because” every once in a while. You could even chuck some glitter in there like an 11-year-old. My Mum always loved it when my childhood penpals did that. #glitterfordays
3. Surprise her with a coffee at work
If your friend’s employer won’t get snippy over a quick drop-in, grab some drive-through coffee and slam it on her desk (or nearest surface). You don’t have to scream “Surprise!” when you do it, but it would definitely get her colleagues’ attention and make them jealous of her awesome friend AKA you, baby.
4. Gift her treats from your garden
It’s taken me a few years, but I’ve finally nailed the art of growing basic herbs and tomatoes in my garden. At certain times, I have an abundance of home-grown goodness. So I love to snip a few bunches of herbs and bag up some tomatoes and gift them to any friends I happen to see. There’s something pretty magical about receiving anything home-grown, and anyone would be chuffed to receive a little bundle of goodness that you’ve harvested yourself.
5. Dote on her kids
If your friend has kids, here’s something you need to know (and probably already do): THEY ARE HER WORLD. A sure-fire way to your friend’s heart is to love on her kids. Get to know them, tell her how cute they are, compliment her on how wonderful their manners are. Give them random little gifts or buy them a couple of clothing items for the new season. Make sure your parties and events are kid-friendly so she can bring them along.
Show your friend you know that she and her kids are a package deal – and you love that about your friendship with her.
6. Bake her something
Because there ain’t no diet on the planet that is more important than home-baked choc chip cookies. Surprise your friend with a little special something from your oven, dropped on her doorstep, tied up with a bow. Just make sure to keep in mind any dietary requirements or allergies in her home.
7. Champion her
Use your actions to show your friend that you believe in her. Talk up her new business venture with other friends. Tell people what a great mum she is. If you hear of an opportunity that she would be perfect for, then recommend her. Your friend needs to know the unique goodness she brings to the world… so shout it from the rooftops!
8. Ask her how you can pray for her
If you’re the praying type, make sure your friend knows you’re praying for her. Ask her if she has any specific prayer requests, and if she’s going through something hard, let her know that you will be praying until it’s resolved.
9. Send her an encouraging text
A string of well-chosen, loving words can be a serious boost on any day. So send that text! Call out her good qualities, and tell her you’re grateful to call her a friend. Let her know how frickin’ awesome she is. Gift her some life-giving words that she can read over and over when she needs a little mood boost.
10. Hold her accountable
Sometimes it feels like the easiest way to love someone is to accept their excuses and simply be an understanding ear to vent to. But if you see more in your friend than she sees in herself, and if you believe that she’s short-changing herself with her actions, don’t be afraid to gently push her in the right direction. It may be confronting, but if it’s done with the right heart, it’s one of the most loving things you can do for someone.
11. Follow up on a previous conversation
Recently I caught up with a new friend and mentioned that I was hoping to get a rebounder trampoline as a gift from my husband Chris. We chatted about it for a few minutes, then moved on. But a couple of hours after we parted ways, she sent through a text suggesting an awesome app she’d found with rebounder workout ideas. It was such a tiny little thing, but I was chuffed that she cared enough to look into it when she got home, and send me the details.
Following up on a previous conversation is friendship GOLD. It shows your friend that you were listening to her at the time, and that you were thinking of her hours (or days) later.
12. Remember her significant dates
Make a dorky 30-second video on her birthday and send it to her. Call her or send a card on the anniversary of the death of someone she loved. Send a cheesy, joyful “happy anniversary!” text on her wedding anniversary. Invite her over for some all-the-feels day drinking on the day her youngest starts preschool.
Remembering your friend’s significant dates shows that you care, and that you pay attention to the details. And if you can’t trust yourself to remember them, pop them in your calendar and set reminders. It’s a tiny thing to do, but speaks volumes.
13. Bond with her significant other
Your friend’s spouse is the most important person in her life – and she wants you to love and care about them too. Make an effort to befriend them, and try to find some common interests and even in-jokes between the two of you. It will mean the world to your friend if she sees you enjoying an easy, light-hearted friendship with her partner.
14. Bless her financially
If you’re in a position to do so, send a little financial blessing her way. Buy her a grocery store gift card with a couple hundred dollars on it, pay a bill that she doesn’t know how to pay, or simply hand over some cash in an envelope during a tough time and say “I’ve been saving this for you.”
It can be awkward bringing money into friendship, but I have been on both the receiving end and the giving end of this scenario, and can tell you what a blessing it is (both the giving and receiving!). It just needs to be handled sensitively and respectfully.
15. See a need and fill it
Sometimes we just need someone to step into a space and help us out. So be the friend that can be relied upon. Babysit her kids so she and her husband can enjoy a much-needed night out. Offer to be a part of a production line to help her business fill a large order. Cook a meal and drop it off when her whole family is sick. Pick her up some essentials – nappies, fresh fruit, nipple cream – the week she brings home a new baby. Be a character reference for her dream job. Your friend will need you for all kinds of things, but she probably won’t ask most of the time. So look for ways to be there for her.
I hope you’re now feeling equipped to be a good friend.
It can take work, but eventually it will become natural for you to think of ways to step up and be an amazing friend. And the reward? A solid, unbeatable, totally raw, frickin’ awesome friendship with someone who invests in you as much as you invest in them.
Related: Why women need female friendships