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6 Qualities to Look for in a Friend or Partner

Not long ago, I published an article about six qualities to admire in others, and the response was extraordinary. It seems that many people believe that certain qualities are not only hard to find in others, but when they are, they deserve to be acknowledged and admired. I prefaced the article by saying that the six I mentioned were by far not an exhaustive list, but included those traits that seemed especially hard to find.  In reading all of the comments, however, I was inspired to write a follow-up list that covers some of the other qualities that I, as well as some of those who commented, believe to be important when looking for friendships and relationships with others.

Our relationships are vital to our mental well-being.  However, toxic relationships can really do a number on our happiness and outlook on life.  As a result, it is important to look for individuals who possess qualities that allow for healthy relationships.  Although once again, not an exhaustive list, the qualities listed below are those that should be at the very heart of a healthy relationship.  And, just as you would expect your friend, family member or loved one to display these qualities, it is just as important to reciprocate.

  1. Loyalty: Whether its in friendships or in family, loyalty is truly important to maintain a healthy relationship. All of us are guilty, at one time or another, of making mistakes, having ups and downs, and even displaying some behavior that we may not always be proud of.  When we find friends or loved ones who can forgive us and stand by us…even during our worst moments…we should be especially grateful.  That said, loyalty should never be taken for granted and we should always be deeply appreciative when it comes our way.
  2. Respectful: I once knew an individual who was very opinionated about political topics.  She would talk down to people who disagreed with her and would be very disrespectful.  Not only did she make people feel stomped on, but she left many disinterested in friendship. Treating others with kindness and the respect they deserve is important in gaining the respect that WE desire.  It never feels good to be taken for granted, judged or used and it doesn’t feel good to be talked down to or treated rudely or inappropriately.  There will be times that we may not always have full agreement with our friends or loved ones, but respecting them along the way is a must.
  3. Unconditionally There: There is nothing worse than having someone always resurface in your life when they are in need, are looking for something or need a favor. In a culture of “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours,” it is somewhat rare to find those “who just scratch your back,” period.  Finding individuals who want you in their lives just because…and not because they want something in return is refreshing and worth holding on to. Those who are generous of heart are to be treasured!
  4. Trustworthy: I worked with a woman once who, within my first week on the job, felt the need to tell me all of the intimate details of the various extra-marital affairs that had occurred with the management of the firm. She was supposedly friends with these people and I have no doubt, was told this information in the most strictest of confidences.  How she felt it was appropriate to divulge this information to a new-hire like me, I still have no idea.  But, it was her nature to gossip about everyone and everything.  If you share something in confidence, you should be able to trust that the information will remain that way.
  5. A Genuine Sounding Board: Taking a genuine interest in what others have to say and really listening to someone is important in developing solid relationships.  Letting go of the “me, me, me” and focusing on the other person not only makes the other person feel valued and appreciated, but they feel that they can really talk to someone who cares. Those who take the time to really listen to our thoughts and feelings, and then help us work through difficult times and situations, share our lives at a much deeper level than those who don’t.  These are individuals worth hanging on to.
  6. Dependability: I had a friend who frequently would RSVP to small gatherings and then would never show.  They never explained…never brought it up…and never apologized.  Although this example is somewhat trivial, it still makes the point.  Obviously there are times when things come up that prevent individuals from following through on what they promise, but if a friend, co-worker or family member perpetually drops the ball, they may be sending you a message.  If a friend says they are going to do something or be somewhere, you should be able to count on them.  And, in reciprocation, they you.

What traits do you look for in a friend or partner?  Are your relationships healthy?

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Mind-Body Tagged with: , , , , ,
  • akri

    I agree..I do have friends and acquaitances and I always feel I’m the one who’s always calling and wondering how they are..granted I’m single and they have kids and all..but still…a few minutes of their time to call and see how I’m doing won’t kill them..So I just don’t call as much as I used to..I got tired of always being me the one to initiate things. That’s probably not a good thing to do..but it’s how I feel.

    • Rain

      Same situation here!!! 🙂 But i feel it is good not to have friends instead of having friends who are least concerned about you.

  • hermit

    If your friend makes plans and cancels regularly, he or she could be like me: socially avoidant. I’m polished, successful, an excellent public speaker…and socially avoidant. I have a fear of being rejected and/or judged and found wanting, yet I want to go do things. I make plans because I keep hoping that I’ll overcome the problem, but then the fear comes flooding in. My suggestion is that if you have a friend who is an introvert and cancels plans on a regular basis, ask about shyness and social avoidance. I could have used a friend to work on the issue with me rather than assume I’m rude. Yes, it really is about me.

    • pookypieface

      You want help? Listen to yourself..”I’m polished ..” sigh. Gimme a break. You are Way too into yourself and I’m not saying this to be mean buddy. Its just if you were to pay more attention to others, you would in all likelihood forget about yourself and your anxiety. You can be shiny and professional but what is the point if no one wants to be around you?
      You need to live! Get dirty! Get drunk! Trying to help another delusional white slave

      • modest

        You clearly don’t understand what Hermit is saying. You think putting Hermit down for something is gonna help cure their fear of social rejection and get out there and socialize? That’s hilarious. Hermit doesn’t sound conceited to me, they sound like they are objectively trying to outline the problem they have. Why is it that if someone says something negative about themselves that’s ok, but if they say something positive they are ‘into themselves’? You are right that focusing on others is one way to help alleviate social anxiety, but you clearly don’t relate to what it’s like to be in a social situation plagued with intrusive thoughts that put you down. Read between the lines, if Hermit was so up themselves, their inner dialogue would be confidence boosting in these situations and there would be no anxiety in the first place. As it happens, all you have done here is further lowered their confidence with your ‘not being mean’ advice that is completely counterproductive and er… mean!