The group said that the qualities which made a good friend were loyalty, that means that someone can be trusted to not repeat what was shared in confidence. People enjoyed common interests but also different interests in friendship. A good friend would be understanding, encouraging, and able to tell you hard things even though its difficult because they care about you and what is in your best interests. Good friendships are encouraging, growing, equal and mutual which means support is given both ways when needed. Boundaries are understood and respected, as are values. Honesty, authenticity and being genuine were seen as important qualities in a friend. We also discussed ‘the eggshell factor’ meaning that there was balance in the relationship about being to directly tackle ‘anything in the room’ and an ability to break tension and awkwardness and the freedom to be honest and not having to play games around each other, able to have a dialogue about what is going on.
Good friendship qualities are being discreet, kind and fun and sharing humour. It was highlighted that the importance of friend relationships can be a bit underrated in society because there is such a focus on dating and marriage when actually friends are so important and no less necessary even if you are in a relationship! Some of the group recognised that sometimes a lack of friends is to do with circumstance and not an individuals ability to make friends. We may look at how to make friends in a future group, as this can feel difficult in some seasons in life, for example moving to a new place, following the breakdown of a relationship or having low confidence. A shared history was also seen as a good contributor in a friendship, and especially shared values as people thought it would be quite difficult to be friends if someone had extreme views which conflicted with closely held values.
Things which people thought were not indicative of true friendship were abuse, control, belittling, sarcasm, not really caring but exploiting and taking advantage and someone who is not genuinely interested in how you are but is all about their own self interest.