What you look for in a friend

Before we start talking about what are some qualities that one looks for in a friend, we must first define the term friend.

What is a friend anyway? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a friend is defined as “1) one attached to another by affection; 2) one that is not hostile” while Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “someone that you know well and like”. On Facebook, they’re anyone you add, whether you actually know them or not. And according to the opening theme of the hit TV sitcom Friends, it’s about being there for each other even when things don’t go well. So, there really isn’t one way to define what a friend is.

First of all, if it’s just someone who’s not hostile, that’s most people on this planet, and maybe even outside of this planet. But we don’t consider those people (or beings) friends. Then let’s look at it as “someone that you know well and like”. At which point do we think we know someone “well”? If I work with the same people for years, I probably know them relatively well even if we barely spend time together or talk outside of work. I know their personality or their quirks well, and I like them more or less. But does that make us friends? I certainly don’t think most of us would categorize them as such. At the end of the day, the term friend is completely subjective and whomever we decide are friends are friends.

Now, I don’t have many friends. One reason might possibly be due to the fact that there is a huge gap between friends and the next category. It could also just be that nobody likes me, but let’s forget about that highly likely possibility for now. Certainly, some might argue the word friend is nothing but a label, and there really isn’t a clear line between that and a coworker, for example.

But for me, there is. A friend is someone I can trust to have my back when I’m at my lowest. A friend must accept me for me, but also someone who can be honest and tell me off when they think I’m wrong. A friend must stand the test of time. A friend need not have the exact same views as me, but must fundamentally have similar, if not the same, core values as me. They should be someone open to discussions, and who doesn’t take things too personally. They should also be someone who genuinely cares about you as much as you do them. A friend should be someone you can learn from, and at the same time, someone you can teach. They should make you a better person, and vice versa.

Friendship is a two-way street, and it’s something we shouldn’t take for granted. There isn’t one way to be a good friend, because everybody’s different. At the end of the day, what really matters to me is not just someone who thinks I’m worth his or her friendship and takes the time to understand me and learn to love me for me, but someone I’m willing to do that for as well.



hostile (adj.) – unfriendly and showing strong dislike
stand the test of time (phr.) – still strong, popular, etc. after a long time
core value (n) – a fundamental principle or belief that a person views as being of central importance
vice versa (adv.) – used to say that what you have just said is also true in the opposite order
take (someone or something) for granted (phr.) – to fail to properly appreciate or to undervalue someone or something
at the end of the day (idiom) – something you say before you give the most important fact of a situation; in the end