Whether you have squad goals on point or are searching for 'your people' there's a few tried and true, often unspoken, friendship codes that keep a crew together, and I don't just mean the sisters before misters kind. There's plenty of feel-good queen quotes flying around to giggle at and cheers to, but in the spirit of adulting, real life, and long-term healthy give and gain relationships, we're diving deeper on 14 ways to be a phenomenal friend.
1. Genuinely Give A Shit
OK, this had to be number 1, because if you don't genuinely care for another person, hanging out with them is awkward af, or worse, narcissistic. You might think it's obvious but I've seen it way too much, and if you're a people watcher, you've probably seen it in all it's unsettling action more often than not.
Call it growing up or figuring things out, but there really is no excuse for using or manipulating another person and calling it friendship, and I for one have developed an instinct for sniffing out and snuffing out a phony. Be real with yourself and check you're not being one or have one in your hood. And for clarity's sake, giving a shit translates into genuine care, kindness, love and respect. Seek a sisterhood where the give and take of these things are as natural as breathing and you'll have a squad to slay like TayTay's any day.
"Share your smile with the world. It's a symbol of friendship and peace."
- Christie Brinkley
2. Be Fully Present
Please, for the love of true and present soul-to-soul connection, put your phone AWAY! If you think you're even slightly guilty of being distracted by your phone when with friends (and not just to take pictures with them) I hope this hits home for you. Think about it, someone glancing away and giving half-assed responses in any conversation seems shady, untrustworthy, and makes you feel like you'd rather be talking to a brick wall - especially when they answer a deep and meaningful question with a nonchalant 'yeah, same.' Like, what?! So don't be that guy yourself! You'll get so much more real enjoyment out of your encounters when you commit your presence to the here and now and the people right in front of you.
3. Congrats Over Competition
This one had to come next because when you are fully present with your friends, there really is no room for competition - the unhealthy, unnecessary kind. If you feel competition rising in you, call it a red flag that you're in need of a mindset shift when it comes to owning exactly who you are, being on your way to your own goals, and respecting yourself enough to respect another's goals and journey - because that's what you would what in return. Say congratulations like you mean it until you feel it for yourself. Winners celebrate winners, so celebrate each other often and admire the groups collective self-worth grow. There are friends who are 'just friends' and there are friends who truly are the best cheerleaders.
4. Lift Each Other Up
Apart from the congrats when your girl has hit a major milestone in her life, be the bestie that also lifts her up and encourages her for no other reason than you're thinking of her and you care for her best life. Besides, being a force of positive empowerment for another also helps to lift your own spirits...and you are your own best motivation after all. So call, text, post, share, tag, and celebrate your babes with a genuine and thoughtful encouragement. Public praise is doubly effective, but just be sure she doesn't mind the world knowing her biz. #RISESISTERRISE
5. Share & Support
My guiding thought in my adult friendships is something I think we all learn as kids - treat others as you would like to be treated. So would you love for someone to share your post about an event you're hosting or tickets you're selling without needing to ask them to do it? Yeah you would! What about if someone asked you how you're coping a month after a close family member has passed away, just when you thought everyone had stopped caring? How sweet. How thoughtful. How compassionate! Be the supporter that you would want in your life. And be the sharer of good news - yours and theirs - often! Support is actions and words.
"A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself."
- Jim Morrison
6. Know When To Truth Talk
Don't wait for someone else to do good before you do, but if they make a habit of draining you for your strong shoulders and kind heart, you have to have the hard conversation and call them out on it. True friends do more than tell each other when their butt looks big (btw, your butt is fine, we just want you to feel comfortable and confident sis). They also truth talk about the challenges they're facing rather than putting on a brave face for competitions sake. They spill on the thing that has helped them the most so that others facing the same struggle don't have to. And they dive into the root of someone's consistent self-criticisms and instill confidence whilst also declaring this circle a drama-free zone.... To name a few. You clear clutter in friendships (and in each other's minds and lives) with honest, respectful, open and clear communication. Open your heart, ears and mouth - in that order. The truth can sometimes hurt but it ultimately sets you free and we all want freedom with our friendships.
7. Know When to Truce Talk
Life and, therefore, friendships are far from perfect, so if a conversation or situation does get heated, awkward or (if alcohol is involved, often) embarrassing, take into account the advice of your inner mediator rather than your inner debate captain. First up, yes, pick your battles. Let some shit go every now and then and chalk up your unusually fiery friend's demeanor to that tough week at work they've been having - and make a note to ask them privately later how you can help with that. Contrary to popular belief you don't need to have the last word to be heard, so if you've said your piece, take on the other sage advice and shut up while you're ahead. Be the bigger person when you know you can be, step into your self awareness and do yourself and your friend a favour by keeping things factual. Take that compromise for now, even if you still wish to discuss the matter later. Being that one that calls truce teaches others how to treat you...and each other. Leave the drama for the Real Housewises and your smoky eye, not your stink eye!
8. Take The Lead
Hey fence-sitters and backseat drivers, this one's for you! Start something! Initiate something, organsise it and see it through to completion like the team player you need to be every once in a while. It's not hard, it's fun. Think of it this way: You feel like hanging out this weekend but nothing's planned with your peeps. You GET TO start the group chat, decide where you want to eat, walk, chill, cheers, whatever. You define the time and rock up like the rockstar you will feel because you and your friends are now enjoying that karaoke you've all been saying you should do forever but no-one had yet arranged. Or you're all busting a move like it's 2002, or bonding over a break-out room plan. Make memories by making the first move. No matter what anyone says, there's a leadership moment for everyone and it's time you took it!
9. Raincheck With Respect
It's OK to not be feeling up to pre-made plans (for a number of legitimate reasons), but do re-schedule with some thought towards what it takes to organise a get together, no matter how many people involved. Know that you may be shattering your mate's excitement and factor that into your apology. Do it in a timely manner too and with some thought to what your friendship means to you. You can certainly expect some backlash, for example, if you text within half an hour of the agreed meeting time with something similar to 'decided to watch Netflix instead, later skater!' Or worse, stand someone up only to have them see via your IG stories that you're hanging in other company. Not cool. Be cool by being respectful of the other lives, time, feelings and effort that goes into any kind of friend hangs. And if you've been a serial canceler, refer to point 8 pronto!
10. Respect Resolutions
One of the best things about friendships is the ability to experience more through our friends new thoughts, growth through challenges, and sometimes stuff that is completely different to that which occurs in our own lives. It's entertaining, enlightening, educational or exciting and keeps your mind open, curious and accepting of others in this big, beautiful and diverse world. Too many chums who are just like us could become stale and result in a failure buddy relationship where stagnation breeds for all parties involved. In saying that, stay open to your pals progression through life whether that be career wise, as they create a family, changes to sexuality, tastes, business, desires to personally develop or even fashion choices. True friendship respects resolutions for change and is along for the ride, bumps and triumphs and everything in between. Find a tribe who does the same for you.
11. Positively Play
Are you lighting up a room when you walk into it or when you walk out of it? No really. Considering the energy you bring to a space is highlighted with friends who will likely pick up what you're putting down - and react to it accordingly. So bring your best self. Bring positive vibes and that lifted spirited who encourages and listens and asks great questions...and PLAYS. Whether 18 or 80 years old, everyone wants to have fun with friends and everyone loves someone who brings the party in the best kinds of ways. Tell stories, jokes, make adventurous suggestions, dance, smile and enjoy yourself. Energy is contagious and a good laugh with friends can sometimes feel like the best conversation you've ever had, helping all involved move forward with their days and weeks with lightness of mind, body and soul. So go ahead and play today!
12. Have Each Other's Back
In all good films about friendship (Beaches and Mean Girls come to mind) those buddies that have each other's backs come up trumps in the end and are pivotal to the mutual enjoyment of the companionships in point. They bring the heart. They mean something more. They matter and last and make a statement as to what this whole friendship thing is all about. It's a league, a team, a brother from another mother and sister from another mister in any language. It's widely known that friendship enriches your life and improves your health through a sense of belonging, stress relief and coping compass through various life challenges. So be there when you say you will; be impeccable with your word by following through and doing what you said you would; be a go-giver; and where you deem appropriate, have the guts to stand up for what is right for your friends first. Good gal and guy pals are worth standing behind.
13. Know the Code & Keep It
Ending on some heavy hitters that were bound to come up (and let's face it, are far nicer to be reminded of here than in real life)...Call it Girl Code, Squad Code, the Four Agreements, whatever, we all have the lines in the sand and they need to be known. I'm a matter of fact kinda gal and when I feel like I'm getting on with someone and building a great friendship I'm going to tell them so. If they agree, then a few catch-ups later I'm careful to add my ideas about friend code into conversation. It stops the head trash talk and trust issues. Lucky for me, most of the time, the friend agrees and I'm reminded I've gotten good at finding my tribe. But it's through a clash of codes that this considered approach to friendship-checking came about. You have to trust your gut and you have to know your friends' boundaries and they yours in order for toes to remain intact. It might be a hard no on infidelity and secret spilling outside the squad. Or it might be a case of three strikes and you're out: do not love they neighbour, do not collect $200 dollars and do not call me again. Know the code and keep it, or make your exit swift and own the consequences.
14. Assume the Best & Clarify the Rest
You know when you haven't spoken to someone in a few weeks and then weeks become months and then, oops, a year has gone by and neither of you have caught up or being in touch...?! Stop, and please do not immediately assume they hate you and have successfully ghosted you. It's a two way street Tim. Life happened. Shit gets busy and sometimes we deny ourselves the pleasure of our buddies as the easiest thing in the list of 'something has to give' kinda times. Instead, assume the best - that it is indeed a case as innocent as not making fun and friendship a priority. Then call up, meet up and catch up heart-to-heart to clarify the rest. If things don't pick up where they left off by the end of your chat, heed point 6 and ask what's up. If that still doesn't break them down to being real with you, have the courage - only then with this clarity - to call it a day on that relationship. Nothing hurts more than wasted years of true friendship discovered as mis-communicated assumptions.
Here's to happy #squadgoals, #girlgangs and best friends everywhere,
whether you're a team of 2 or 22, friendship is what we all make it!
Have I missed something?
Share your friendship secret sauce in the comments below.
'Coz that's what friends are for 😉