There is nothing better than being able to surround yourself with kind, unique, and interesting friends who lift you up when you're succeeding and are there for you when times are tough. Although it can often be easy to tell which friendships are sources of positivity in your life and which may not deserve as much of your attention, every once in a while it can be helpful to take a step back and think about how healthy your friendships really are. While there are some people who will always be in your circle, other relationships might only fit into your life for a fleeting period of time (and that's okay). Because great friendships are priceless, it's always best to surround yourself with the kind of people who will lift your spirits, make you laugh, and remind you that you are loved. These are the relationships to focus on.
If you're ready for a bit of self-reflection (and perhaps some mental spring cleaning), here are six signs of healthy friendships to consider.
You're Real and Honest With Each Other
Good friends make you feel comfortable with yourself, so you never have to act like something you're not. They know your shortcomings and love you anyway, while also bringing out the best version of you.
A healthy friendship includes plenty of honesty, rather than tip-toeing around each other's feelings to gain approval or avoid an argument. In a positive friendship, your pal won't lie to you, and they won't try and hurt your feelings either. As a result, you'll know where you stand with your friend and won't be afraid to share your true opinions.
You Argue in a Healthy Way
One of the biggest misconceptions about good friends is that they never fight. But let's face it, everyone fights. Arguing isn't unhealthy. In fact, voicing your opinions freely and getting into disagreements can be a sign of a healthy friendship.
Great friends want their relationship to be solid, which means they aren't afraid to talk through things. They argue with the intent of coming to a compromise in their friendship, which may mean that they agree to disagree sometimes. As a result of honest communication, healthy friendships won't let underlying tension or negativity linger. This involves addressing issues, forgiving each other when necessary, and moving on.
You Trust Each Other
A major sign of a healthy friendship (or any relationship for that matter) is trust. When you have trust, you can feel comfortable sharing your feelings and the details of your life without any fear that you won't be accepted or that your personal life will be shared with others. And this goes both ways. Your friend should trust you just as much as you trust them. "Without trust, there is no authenticity to the friendship," says licensed counselor Suzanne Degges-White.
You Have Other Friends
Even if you have an incredible best friend or group of friends, it doesn't hurt to expand your social circle. That's why great friends will nurture your relationship, yet still encourage you to meet people and try new things without them.
A healthy friendship means that sometimes you and your BFF spend time apart, and that's okay. When your friend helps you be a strong version of yourself, you can feel free to establish your own identity. That means sometimes you'll spend time with your best friend, and other times you'll do your own thing. It's all about balance.
You Respect Each Other's Boundaries
Another sign of a healthy friendship is the ability to respect each other's boundaries. This means that you and your friend are happy with the amount of time you spend with each other, and neither of you feels neglected or ignored. Good friends know where the boundaries are that will make them both feel comfortable and safe. "Some friends may have a difficult time letting people get close to them for fear of being hurt. Don’t crowd your friends—give them the space they need to feel comfortable, and let the relationship deepen over time," Degges-White says.
You might need to discuss these boundaries openly, or if you're lucky, it's just a natural extension of the friendship that falls into place all on its own. A friendship like this may take some time to develop until there is a balance that works so both of you can settle into the relationship.
You Put in Time and Effort
Any relationship worth having takes work, but that doesn't mean it has to be difficult. You can spend time on your friendships in a variety of ways, whether it's going out to dinner, chatting on the phone, or experiencing new things together. Even the smallest things can help keep your relationship a priority for both of you. While good friends don't need to spend time together constantly, a sign of a healthy friendship is when you both take the time to nurture your relationship.