How Can You Know Which Friends Are Worth Keeping?

Best friend girls huggging outdoors

How Can You Know Which Friends Are Worth Keeping?

Christine Hill


What is a friend? Everyone you ask will have a different answer, but there are some common threads. A friend is someone you know and care about, who knows and cares about you. A friend is someone with whom you share stories, confidences, and trust.


How Do Your Friends Influence Your Life?


It’s been said that you are an average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. What does this mean for your friendships? Unfortunately, this quote has sometimes been the excuse to be really cutthroat about your friend group, and seek out people who are ambitious and successful instead. We’re not saying that’s the takeaway you should get from this article. However, there are certain times when it’s worth taking a good hard look at your friend group, and considering the impact that they have on your life.


Our group of friends has a major impact on our lives and identity. Good friends can be a major factor in determining whether individuals are able to overcome bad habits and addictions. Acceptance from someone you love and trust can help you overcome defensive behaviors triggered by shame. Friends can also be the force in our life that pushes us towards success and creativity. Friends can enrich our lives, or hold us back from becoming the person we want to be. It’s an important moment when we realize that in order to make a major change in our lives, it could require a change in the company that we keep.


Active retired seniors, two old men playing chess at park

Some Questions to Guide You to Purposeful Friendships


Most of us have a tendency to simply fall into friendships. Ask yourself: how would your life be different if you sought out positive relationships instead? If you invested your time and energy to building up relationships with people that you admire, and seek to emulate? Here are some questions that you can act as a guide to help you have more purposeful friendships:



  • Does she/he encourage me to be my best?



Friends are people who encourage us to be our best selves. Not only do they see the best in you as you are, they see the potential in you too. Sometimes, friends encourage us to be our best by also being their best and pulling us along. One of the greatest dilemmas of certain friendships is that moment when one friend decides to stretch his boundaries and become better. This can inspire feelings of jealousy or intimidation. It might make someone feel excluded. However, true friends cheer for their friends’ victories, and encourage them to always become more.



  • Does she/he stand by me even when I’m at my worst?



All of us have low times. Trust is formed when we share our vulnerable side, and a friend responds with love and assurance. True friends tell us the truth: they don’t tell us that everything is okay when it’s not. But they give us hope that it will be okay. When you need tough love, they’re there to call your bluff.



  • Does she/he invest as much as I do?



Have you ever had someone you considered a friend, until you suddenly realized that you were always the one reaching out? Always the one ready to talk, always the one there for them… when they didn’t make time for you? One of the beauties of friendship is that you stop keeping score. You no longer keep a tally of who owes whom. However, sometimes we need to stop and consider whether your friendship is a one-way street.



  • Do we connect and understand each other’s true selves?



Friendships aren’t always easy, and they can go through fluctuations. However, a true friend is someone we know, who knows us. This requires time and investment. If the connection is lost, it might require rebuilding. On the other hand, if you try and try, and still have a hard time connecting, maybe it’s time to let the relationship lapse.


Couple of young men talking on the stairs of an office


  • Is this relationship valuable to me?



In the end, sometimes this is the only question that matters. Friends become our friends for a reason. Sometimes, it’s because of the history that we share. Sometimes it’s because you’ve been through too much together to let it go. Sometimes, that friend reminds you of a piece of yourself that you don’t want to let go of. When it boils down to, “I simply don’t want to let go of this relationship,” it’s important for us to ask ourselves, why? And is the value that you get from the relationship worth it? If there’s value in the relationship, it’s worth sacrifice and forgiveness on your part. But sometimes, it also requires setting some boundaries.


Some Friendships Are Fluid; Some Aren’t
When it comes down to it, here’s the truth: everyone needs and expects different things from friendship. Some people require more time, some people require more advice, some people require more stimulation and challenges. And since our needs, and the needs of others, change over time, friendships will change too. Take time now and then to evaluate the relationships in your life. Are you putting in the effort you need to to strengthen the relationships that matter the most?

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