Good friendships come with TONS of benefits. It’s obvious that good friends can be a great source of happiness and entertainment, and they can also get us through our most stressful days. Having a solid squad can make us feel a great sense of belonging, which can contribute to our overall confidence. And, strong friendships early in life have actually been linked to better health in the long-term. Sign us up!

Identifying a true friendship can be a challenge, especially in smaller social circles, like those of high school and college. Insecurity and competitive instincts can kick in over things like popularity, party invites, academic recognition, romantic attention, athletic rankings, college admissions, and jobs. Sometimes, people who we see as our best friends can actually be toxic forces in our lives.

So, how can you recognize a good relationship when you see one? Dr. Darlene Mininni, one of ShimmerTeen’s fave advisors and author of The Emotional Toolkit, offered up these 3 features of fantastic friends:

1. Good friends have minimal drama between them. Friendships should be mostly fun. Yes, disagreements are normal, but most of the time, you should feel happy, comfortable, and confident around one another. Negative comments or putdowns? Competition for a crush? These are red flags.

2. Good friends help each other thrive.  “You should choose to be around people who lift you up, not tear you down,” Dr. Mininni says. Your good friends are the ones who are there for you no matter what. The watch out for you and include you. They can open your eyes to new experiences and encourage you to do your absolute best.

3. Good friends rise above negative vibes.  This is a big one…Jealousy is a natural human emotion, but a good friend supports you, even when it’s hard for her. If you both tried out for the lead in the school play, for example and you see your name on the top of the list while she’s in the chorus, she celebrates with you.

So, who are your real friends? How do you know?

Sources & Resources

J. P. Allen, B. N. Uchino, C. A. Hafen. Running With the Pack: Teen Peer-Relationship Qualities as Predictors of Adult Physical Health. Psychological Science, 2015; DOI: 10.1177/0956797615594118