What does it mean to be a good friend? 

By Sophie Velez

Our school has approximately 1200 kids. We have 4 classes with roughly 24 students in each and we switch from class to class every day. So, we are bound to meet new people and we are practically forced to make new friends. Making friends can be easy for some and more challenging for others. With this little guide, I will be showing you a few factors about friendship and what makes for healthy vs. toxic relationships. Making friends is cool, but being a good friend is even cooler.

Here are some critical factors in a healthy friendship and how they can look in a toxic friendship:

Trust: Trust can be simple such as trusting a friend not to drop your ice cream if you ask them to hold it or, more seriously, trusting your friend with a secret. In an unhealthy friendship, your “friend” may reveal a secret you asked them to keep private. In a situation like this, it is important you realize that you have an unhealthy relationship with this person and that what they did to you was not your fault. You need to be aware of how they are treating you and not be afraid to let go of toxic people. In a healthy friendship, it’s a standard that your friend respects your privacy and your trust. Confidentiality is key to a long-lasting, healthy friendship.

Respect: Respect means accepting someone for who they are. If there is no respect in a friendship, the people involved will not be able to be genuine and will not ever feel truly comfortable. Mutual respect is something that is established at the beginning of a friendship and is the wood that sustains it and keeps it bright. In an unhealthy relationship, a lack of respect can look very different. Whether it’s constantly making fun of you, talking badly about you behind your back or even bossing you around. You are not obligated to stay with this ‘friend’ if they disrespect you, there are so many kind people out there.

Communication: In our modern world, communication is the bare minimum. You can communicate using words, texts, snaps, or tweets. Communication in a healthy friendship not only prevents loneliness but also can increase a sense of belonging. The act of communicating can also nurture and strengthen a connection and relationship. A lack of communication or toxic communication can look like talking to you for a few days and then completely not talking with you for a few (like an on-and-off cycle). It can also look like “ghosting,” which is no communication at all. It’s important to communicate boundaries and limits to friends making sure they are aware of what makes you feel comfortable and uncomfortable.

Having respect for ourselves and our boundaries “helps us to work through challenges, build resilience in life, and maintain our emotional health” according to the Berkley well-being institute. We are constantly surrounded by people who can bring us down and others that can encourage us and lift us up. It’s our responsibility to choose wisely and to make sure that we are hanging out with people we know are good for us. It’s also very important that we are able to recognize a good friendship from a toxic friendship and know when it is time to let go.

Your friends are a representation of who you are and the future you will make for yourself, so make sure that your friends are kind, encouraging and hard-working people!