If someone is your friend, it’s easy to tell, right? Not so fast. There is a difference between friendly and being friends, or being a casual friend and being a true friend. Not everyone has the right to be called friend, and you need to know the difference so you can keep comfortable boundaries in your friendships.
One of the most common things people wonder when they meet new people is how do you know when you can actually call someone a friend? Labels are a hard thing to process for some people, and they get caught up on the level of friendship, rather than the relationship itself.
The exact moment in time when you can call someone a friend will vary with the relationship and people involved. For your own peace of mind, here are some signs that the person is actually a friend.
They Care About You
Caring can mean all kinds of things, from acting in a pleasant manner to doing nice things for you. Generally someone that cares for you will:
- respect your feelings
- apologize when they do something wrong
- be concerned about you
- call or email even when they are busy
Caring doesn’t involve a checklist but a feeling that your well being is handled in a positive manner. Not everyone is a hugger, or shows their emotions as well as others, but if you feel as if someone truly believes in you and wants you to succeed, chances are they really do care.
They Haven’t Betrayed You
While betrayal can happen at the hand of someone who is (or was) a friend, odds are that if you’ve been stabbed in the back, something in the relationship has changed. This means that someone you thought was on your side wants to see you fail or become unhappy. Once someone betrays you, it’s a safe bet that they are no longer your friend.
The difficulty with this, however, is that people aren’t perfect, and even our best friends can break our trust at times. If that happens, a true friend will be sorry, apologize (and mean it), and want to make things right. If someone gives you a non-apology or doesn’t seem to care that they betrayed you, then you know they aren’t really a friend.
They Make Time for You
Have you ever had someone who just couldn’t get together with you unless they needed something? If you want to chat or hang out, they claim to be too busy. But if they want a favor they somehow have all the time in the world.
While any of one of us can claim to be busy, a true friend will make time for you. Maybe they can’t talk right now, but if you need to they will find time to call you back promptly. Or, if their schedule is really booked for the next few weeks, they will still try and put a date on the calendar to get together with you at some point. They don’t blow you off.
If you’re consistently trying to pin down someone and they seem to begrudgingly get together with you, they may just be keeping you in their social circle for their own benefit and therefore don’t really think of you as a friend.
You Enjoy Spending Time Together
If you really don’t like someone, it’s difficult to really call them a friend. Think of all the times that you were forced to see people who irritate you. How do you act with them? When they talk are you genuine in the questions you ask as part of the conversation? Or do you count the minutes until you have to leave?
Think of these distinctions when you’re out with someone you aren’t sure is really a friend. How do you feel when you’re with them? Do they seem snarky? Bored? They might not enjoy your company. More importantly, do you enjoy theirs? If you don’t, why even bother trying to determine if they are a friend? Find new friends who nurture your spirit and make you feel positive.