A true friend is someone who is supportive, trustworthy and easy to be around. They make you feel comfortable in their presence so you know you can be exactly who you are without being judged.
Aside from those general qualities, there are some other overlooked signs of a deep, genuine friendship that deserve recognition.
Take this post on the Cup Of Jo Instagram account, for example, which captures one of the signs I personally hold dear: A true friend is someone you’re comfortable having over even when there are dishes in the sink or clutter on the countertops.
“When someone invites me into their messy house, I think, ‘Yes! I’ve crossed over into Real Friend territory.’ Real Friends let you see their less-than-perfect lives,” read the post from a Cup Of Jo reader named Nic. “...Whenever someone shows me their unfiltered life, I feel like we become family.”
That prompted me to ask a friendship expert and HuffPost readers to share their own signs of a true friend. Here’s what they told us:
1. They’re there for you without you even having to ask.
“True friends anticipate needs without asking. During a government shutdown when my disability benefits were temporarily on hold, my friends kindly helped out with some financial support and food. After a taxing medical procedure that left me in tears, their considerate gesture materialized as consolatory pizza. It’s spontaneous acts of service like this that really showcase thoughtfulness and genuine friendship.” — Aziza R.
“When you call them to say you’re on the way to the hospital and their response is, ‘Should I book a flight?’” — Lesley C.
2. They know and appreciate your quirks.
“Only my true friends know all my little quirks, one being that I only have one clock in my house that has the correct time. I’m not about to change all the clocks or replace batteries, that’s a waste. They know to look at the clock on my kitchen wall and ignore all others! Non-true friends will stop over and comment on how I need to change my clocks.” — Christine S.
3. They give advice when you want it, but there’s no pressure to follow it.
“A true friendship is a partnership where each person in the relationship is on equal footing. Instead of insisting that you solve your problems how they want, this kind of friend approaches problems as a teammate. That looks like saying, ‘Tell me what you’ve already tried to solve this issue. I’m happy to suggest some other ideas that might help.’ Or, my personal favorite, ‘Feel free to ignore anything I’m about to say that isn’t useful.’ This releases your friend from any obligation to take your advice.” — writer Anna Goldfarb, author of the forthcoming book “Modern Friendship”
4. They don’t rush to fix your problems when you simply want to vent.
“They hold space for you. You can vent or be upset and they don’t feel the need to fix it, but instead just let you get it out and you feel comfortable letting them know it all because there is no fear of judgement” — Andrea B.
5. They give it to you straight — whether it’s something small or a harder truth.
“Also a true friend can point out when you have an unwanted chin hair and it doesn’t hurt your feelings.” — Christine S.
“A true friend is honest with you and tells you when you are wrong, even when it hurts.” — Lucy A.
6. They know your limitations and don’t mind accommodating them.
“They see you for all the roles you play in your life: a partner, a co-worker, a sibling, a parent, etc. Short on cash? An excellent friend suggests ordering a pizza or makes you both a home-cooked meal instead inviting the poorer friend to grab a pricey sushi dinner that they can’t really afford. A busy parent? Your thoughtful friend suggests grabbing lunch instead of going out dancing, which would require hiring a babysitter. Those small tweaks let your friends know that you see their life today and that you can keep your friendship humming along no matter what.” — Goldfarb
7. They know their way around your home.
“My best friend knows where the can opener is in my silverware drawer. My husband asks where we keep it.” — Teresa K.
8. They don’t take it personally when you haven’t talked in a while.
“They aren’t upset when you go silent for a bit” — Sophie G.
9. And when you do talk again, you pick up right where you left off.
“I grew up moving just about every two years until I graduated. Then jobs and the Air Force took me all over again. I’ve currently been where I am now for 6 years! A true friend is the one that despite miles or time, you reconnect right where you left off.” — Lacy P.
10. You two can find some humor even when things are hard.
“The constant laughter, even through the darkest times.” — Kristin C.
11. They can sense when you’re not in a good place.
“They know you so well that they can tell when something is really ‘off’ mentally and/or emotionally, without you having to say anything, and they know what types of support you need to get you through those difficult times.” — Natish L.
12. They cherish your shared history.
“They remember your precious beautiful dog that they met back in the 70s and although decades have passed they send you a message one day out of the blue and say I was just thinking about Shamus today and what a fabulous dog he was.
In that moment your precious companion is alive again. The opposite to ‘dragging up the past,’ true friends are the ones who were there and will lovingly bring somebody or some thing precious forward when the rest of the world has long ago moved on.” — Carol O.
13. There’s no such thing as an awkward silence with them.
“A true friend sits in the silence with you. And it’s comfortable.” — Anna S.
14. It’s not always 50/50 between you and that’s alright.
“It’s OK for one to give more than the other because soon the roles will reverse. And if they don’t, that’s OK too.” — Libby A.
15. When you fight, you fight fair.
“They stay engaged with you during disagreements and don’t go off in a huff waiting for you to know your place and get back in line and conform.” — Judy T.
16. They don’t speak poorly about your behind your back — or let others do the same
“They won’t tolerate you being bad-mouthed in your absence.” — TJ. T.