Friends, the Family You Choose

Friendship is one of the most important human relationships, as it provides well-being and generates networks of support, understanding and love.
Friends, the Family You Choose
Ana Gorrochategui

Written and verified by the psychologist Ana Gorrochategui.

Last update: 09 May, 2024

They say that friends are the family you choose. And we’re not talking about just any friendship, but Friendship with a capital F, where love doesn’t hurt or smother, and where you feel close even if you’re miles and miles away.

Merriam-Webster defines a friend as: “one attached to another by affection or esteem.” For centuries people have said that blood relationships are the most stable, unconditional, and affectionate… but what about friends?

The importance of friends

Friends are support. Even as a child, they help teach you values, role-playing, and who you want to be. They help you build your identity, develop empathy, and feel like you’re part of a group.

A true friend laughs with you.

The concept of friendship is personal, and that means it’s also somewhat subjective. Your expectations will change over time, depending on your experiences and circumstances. As you grow up you get pickier. You look more for quality over quantity and you’re much clearer about what makes a true friend (or at least the kind you want to surround yourself with).

Friends can help you learn more about yourself and grow. They can give you the healthy self-esteem and positive emotions that are so important for psychological balance. So, we could say that friends protect you, care for you, and strengthen you.

“A brother might not be a friend, but a friend will always be a brother.
-Demetrius of Phalerum-

Characteristics of true friends

Maybe you haven’t had a true friendship yet or you’re going through a confusing time in your life. Sometimes we have a hard time defining acquaintances from friends, and friends from true friends. Well, here are traits of a true friendship:

  • Trust. A true friend is someone you can trust. Someone you can be yourself with, fully sincere and transparent. When times are good and when times are bad, your friends will be there. And you know they’ll tell you the truth, even if you don’t want to hear it.
  • Reciprocity. Friendship is a shared bond where communication, actions, feelings, and interest go both ways. It’s totally normal for there to be phases when it’s more one-sided. When that happens it’s important for you to empathize, learn from it, and fix your mistake. We all make mistakes, but true friends forgive you and teach you to be a better friend.
  • Good wishes. A friend will be excited when things are going well for you. They’ll celebrate your success and be happy for your happiness. There’s no room for envy or selfishness: a true friend is always with you.
  • Desire to spend time together. You want to spend your time with them, experience things together, and create new memories. It also doesn’t matter how much time goes by or how far away you are. When it’s a true friendship, the mutual feelings are always there.
  • Freedom. Friendship doesn’t make you feel smothered. It lets you be yourself and comes from a place of respect. It doesn’t make you feel used or try to manipulate you. And it doesn’t demand your time or try to get you to be someone you’re not. True friends will help you reflect, be a space free of judgment, and give you room to breathe.
Two friends by the sea.

A true friend is a true blessing

You can’t find friendship in just anyone. There are plenty of people will who come and go. But sometimes, right when you least expect it, there’s a spark and this special, rare connection is born. So, if you have a true friendship, take care of it. Don’t take it for granted. Be patient, sincere, and attentive.

True friends will leave a mark on your life. If you have someone like this in your life, count yourself immensely blessed. True friendship is magical, authentic, and unconditional. You have a companion for life.

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.