People who have mastered the art of being a good friend usually live by these 10 principles

Do you have at least one good friend?

Then consider yourself lucky!

There may be plenty of fun friends, nice friends, smart friends, and caring friends…but genuinely good friends? They’re as rare as diamonds.

Only few people actually know how to be a good friend because not only do you need to have certain traits, you also need a higher level of maturity.

Want to know how some people have mastered the art of being a good friend?

Well, it’s because they usually live by these 10 principles.

1) “Fill your cup so you can fill the cup of others.”

Many people think that good friends are selfless—that they give and give until they run dry.

Of course, this isn’t true.

Good friends are the ones who make sure they NEVER run dry so they can give with a cheerful heart. 

Because hey, what’s the point of giving if you just feel forced to do it?

I have a friend who’s generous to everyone but she’s also full of anger and resentment for being so giving. She even complains to others how her friends are “using” her.  Tsk.

So is she a good friend? 

Of course not.

If only she knows how to fill her cup first and set firm boundaries, she probably would be.

People who have mastered the art of being a good friend have mastered the art of being “selfish”—of taking care of themselves first so they can take care of others.

This is the reason why when they do something for you, it feels good. You know that whatever they give comes from their heart. 

2) “Give more than you take.”

While good friends don’t feel pressured to give and give, they know that they should give more than they take. 

Some might go “Wait a minute, I thought you shouldn’t keep score?”

But here’s the thing: those who know how to be a good friend DO keep score—but not on their friends, but themselves.

They are very careful not to ask too many favors.

They’re too careful not to step on their friends’ boundaries.

Heck, they’re even too shy to ask for a dollar!

And when their friends give them something, they’d be surprised and say “Oh, but you’ve already given me a lot!”


Because they’re not entitled.

They never ever want to take advantage of their friends because that’s just not how they think friendship should be.

To them, friendship is give and take. And if possible, they’d really rather give than take.

3)  “Say what you mean, mean what you say.”

People who have mastered the art of being a good friend have good communication skills and integrity.

They don’t stonewall.

They don’t demonstrate passive-aggressive behavior.

They don’t say “I’m fine” when they’re not.

And most of all, they always try their best to be truthful as much as possible.

They’ll say when they’re hurt or offended…even if the convo would be awkward and it would make them seem overly sensitive.

When asked, they’d give their honest feedback even though it could make their friends feel awful about their work.

Because of this, their friendships remain solid and strong. In a world full of “nice” people, it’s refreshing to be with someone who’s truthful but kind.

4) There’s no such thing as “perfect friendship”

youre a great friend People who have mastered the art of being a good friend usually live by these 10 principles

Some people have a lot of expectations on what a friendship should look like.

They want to be there for each other 24/7.

They want to do things together.

They even want to hate the same people. 

Ironically, these people are the ones who turn into bad friends. They expect so much from their friends that they start to develop a codependent friendship dynamic.

Here’s the thing: there’s no such thing as a perfect friendship because there’s no such thing as perfect people!

Having too high expectations on people will often lead to pressure and of course, disappointments.

People who have mastered the art of being a good friend don’t think this way.

They’re the opposite—they put zero pressure on their friendships that they become so chill (without being distant).

If their friend backs out on their movie date last minute, they’d be pissed for sure. But they won’t attack them like they just committed a crime.

It’s not that they’re a doormat, no.

They’re just not demanding! 

They’re aware that people have lives to live and it’s wrong to always expect their friends to prioritize their friendship.

Actually, for them, the perfect friendship is when we know how imperfect our friends can be…and yet we love them anyway.

5) “Water what you want to grow.”

Good friends are the most generous people…but not necessarily with money. 

They’re generous with their time.

In other words, they’re the ones who always show up.

They’re the ones who always comment on your posts.

The ones who rush to your side when there’s an emergency.

The one who sends you memes when you haven’t talked for a while.

They’re the ones who always make sure they can attend your important life events—from your wedding to your dog’s funeral.

There are times that they can’t make it, for sure, but they’ll make up for it another time or in other ways.

These people know that friendship needs maintenance, and they do it because they truly value your friendship.

They want to show their friends that although they’re not perfect, at least they’re always there.

6) “Attention is the purest form of generosity.”

Good friends don’t just show up, they’re PRESENT.

They actively listen to the things you say and make sure you feel heard.

And it’s not because they just want to be a good friend, they’re very interested in your life!

They ask you about your hobbies and let you talk about them even if you’re worried their ears would bleed.

They ask you about your thoughts, feelings, dreams, sexcapades, problems, and regrets.

And you know they’re not just pretending to listen because they can actually recall the things you’ve told them months or even years later.

We get to build deeper connections by talking and listening, and people who have mastered the art of being a good friend do both well.

7) “Everything changes all the time.”

People who have mastered the art of being a good friend don’t expect their friends to remain the same.

They know that life can take us to different directions, and so they EXPECT their friends to change.

Instead of making their friend feel guilty when they spend more time with their new boyfriend, they’d let them be. 

They’re happy for them!

Besides, they know they’ll come back again with a lot of juicy stories to tell.

Instead of pouting that their friend is too busy climbing the corporate ladder, they’d be thrilled for them. They’d even ask them their office address so they can send some cookies for good luck.

They know friendships change and transform all the time because life happens…but they’d never think their friendship will end when that happens. 

They’re always just there, willing to cheer their friends on and join them in every chapter of their life. 

8) “It’s better to be kind than to be right.”

supportive friend People who have mastered the art of being a good friend usually live by these 10 principles

They know that constant arguments can make even the strongest relationships go sour.

So instead of fighting tooth and nail to win, they’d choose peace.

Let’s say their friend expresses their views on something and they’re totally opposed to it, they’d express their honest opinions alright.

But once the tension becomes too heavy, they’d just drop it and say “Well, you could be right on that. Now let’s have our delicious soup before it gets cold, shall we?”

In other words, they won’t go crazy trying to prove their point. 

Friendship is about making each other heard, not about tearing each other down.

9) “Everyone’s free to make mistakes.”

When their friends make decisions that they think aren’t too sensible or smart, they’d shut up and let them be.

They won’t freak out and give them a long lecture. They’re their friend, not their parent!

As long as it doesn’t involve drugs and guns, they think their friends should be free to do whatever they please.

If their friend is dating someone with some red flags, for example, they won’t burst their bubble and say “Ditch that guy!” 

Instead, they’d let them find out for themselves. After all, they could be wrong about their assumptions, too!

If their friend wants to quit their high-paying job to pursue something they’re passionate about, they won’t tell them that they’re not thinking straight.

They’d support them. But of course, they’d suggest that they should have an emergency fund before sending their resignation letter to the HR.

People who have mastered the art of being a good friend don’t act like judgmental know-it-alls. 

Even if their friends’ actions are questionable, they’d respect their journey anyways.

10) “It’s the little things that matter the most.”

Friendship isn’t just the big things, it’s also the small gestures of kindness done daily.

I have a friend who regularly gives small notes and random gifts. And my heart always melts when I receive them even if they probably just cost a dollar.

I have another friend who always checks on my cat and gives her cat food.  She makes me feel loved.

Now, these things aren’t BIG—they didn’t help me bury a dead body or give me a mansion or give me a ticket to Peru.

But these small things are actually the big things when it comes to friendship. They act as fertilizers to the soil in which friendship grows.

Final thoughts

Were you thinking of some people while reading this article?

Then they’re probably the kind of friends you want to keep for life.

And if you want to be a good friend yourself, it’s not so hard to do.

Try to live by these principles and you’ll automatically become a much better friend that everyone would feel lucky to have.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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