What Is True Friendship?

Written By Alla Levin in partnership with BetterHelp.
March 29, 2022
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Defining Friendship in Five Adjectives

What Is True Friendship? The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp. Friendship is complicated. While there might be dozens, even hundreds of people that we might consider to be “friends,” how many of them can you really count on when the going gets tough?

True friendship is similar to true love. It’s a powerful bond that is difficult to break. We may only end up having a few friends like this in our entire life, and that’s okay! Some would argue that having fewer, closer friends is worth much more than having many friends who are really just simple acquaintances.

To help break down the meaning of true friendship, this article will explore five key adjectives that are essential to it.

True Friendship in Five Adjectives

We can define true friendship and, by extension, a true friend, through five simple adjectives that a true friend will possess. Read on to learn why a true friend should be honest, loyal, fun, empathetic, and independent.

Honestwhat is true friendship

Honesty is vital when it comes to trustworthiness. How can you expect to have a meaningful friendship with someone who lies to you? Even someone who lies to others is someone who you should be careful around. For example, what’s stopping them from turning around and doing the same thing to you?

A true friend will always be honest with you, and we desperately need honesty in our lives. Even just having one honest friend can make a huge difference. This is especially important in the U.S., for example, where it’s normalized to tell people to tell white lies to make them feel better about themselves. A true friend will act in your best interest by always being honest, even if it may bruise your ego in the short term.


A true friend will always be loyal, without being unreasonably loyal. This is similar to the above example of always being honest. If you are not being a good person, then they will do what’s right and they will tell you. Their loyalty is contingent upon you being a good friend in return.

Remember, friendship is always a two-way street. So long as you are a faithful friend, your friend should be the same. (Though this can get complicated—more on this under “Independence” below.) A true friend, ultimately, is someone that you can count on when times are tough. They won’t turn their back on you just because something bad has happened or because you’ve made one mistake.

Loyalty among friends, just as with a significant other, is an essential and absolutely necessary requirement for true friendship.

FunHaving fun experiences with others

Imagine a life with no fun. Having a friendship that lacks any shred of fun or amusement or humor is a sure sign that it is not true friendship. True friendship is the kind of friendship where your experiences are mutually beneficial because you’re both there.

This means that the time you spend together is better simply because it’s shared with someone who you connect with on a deep level. Having fun experiences with others allows you to create significant memories. These will help power your friendship throughout your life, and your bond will strengthen as you look back on your memories as time goes by.

When you reflect on your friendships, the ones where you’ve had the most fun may not necessarily be examples of true friendship. On the other hand, it’s quite difficult to have a true, meaningful friendship without any fun or humor.


What’s empathy? As is commonly said, it’s the ability to put yourself into another’s shoes. It can be very difficult to be friends with someone who isn’t empathetic. For example, if you really need to vent to them, they may not really listen and they won’t relate to you in any way, which can be incredibly frustrating. Fortunately, there’s guidance to be found online that may help fill the gap when you have an inattentive friend: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/friendship/.

At the end of the day, the true friendship requires empathy because you need to be able to support each other through both good times and bad times. Simply being a good listener and a kind person will generally mean that you’re capable of empathy. Without empathy, it’s quite difficult for true friendship to exist, let alone survive.


Just as with romantic relationships, independence is key. If you have a friend who struggles to be in a good place on their own, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to have or maintain a true friendship with them. This is because true friendship requires two people who respect each other.

Respecting each other includes respecting each other’s time, space, and privacy. If you have a friend who is constantly texting you, calling you, commenting on your social media, etc. and they continue to do so when you are not engaging with it, this is a sign that they need you more than you need them.

Ultimately, true friendship is about a balanced bond of appreciation and support for one another. If the balance is out of whack because one person is dependent on the other, it does not bode well for the existence of true friendship.


True friendship is a beautiful thing. It’s much more precious than we tend to think it is. Some people, sadly, may never know it, while others may be blessed to have many true friendships. In any case, the true friendship requires certain characteristics, including honesty, loyalty, empathy, fun, and independence. When you have all these things together, it is very likely that true friendship exists.

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