25 ways you could be a better friend

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Good friends are hard to come by, which is why it's important to cultivate your relationships with the people you care about most. In order to keep good friends, you have to be a good friend - and while you may think you're doing just fine, there's always a way to be better.

While you may feel that you do your best as a friend, the truth of the matter is that no one is perfect and there are likely some things you could be doing for your friends that you haven't thought of. Whether it's making sure your loved ones know that you have their back or learning to fix bad habits that could be damaging your relationship, try taking at least one of these 25 steps you can take toward being a better friend.

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Check up on them regularly

Sometimes life can get in the way, especially when everyone is busy with work and their own home life. It's easy to tell your friends that you're always there for them when they need it, but it isn't as easy for them to reach out. Let your friends know there's always an open line of communication by regularly checking in with them to see how they're doing.

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Go the extra mile for them

A good friend will oblige when asked for a favor; a great friend will be the one asking. Not only should you try to help your friends out with smaller things, you should offer to help out with things like babysitting, a big move or even driving them to the airport. Be proactive in showing that you're there for them, and your friends will definitely feel supported.

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Stand up for them, even when they're not around

Not only should you never talk about a friend behind their back, but you should also refuse to tolerate anyone else doing so. Should anyone be treating your friends badly, you should definitely make a stand for them, but make sure you're also doing it even when they're not there to see you do it.

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Stand up to them

Sometimes your friend may be the one treating someone else unkindly or even doing something harmful to themselves. A good friend looks out for your interests, and sometimes the best way to help a friend is to call them out on their own bad behavior.

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Be a more vocal supporter

Whatever your friend's aspirations are, make sure you're one of their biggest fans. Whether that's showing up for a game or contest they're taking part in or sharing their work with others or on social media, showing your support for your friends' goals will not only make them feel great, but it'll also help give them confidence that will further help them achieve their dreams.

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Help them with their goals

Don't just cheer your friends on; help them get to the finish line in whatever way you can. If you have shared or similar goals, work together to see how you can achieve them. If not, ask your friend what you can do to help them get to where they want to be.

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Listen more

Sometimes it's better to talk less and listen more. And you should listen actively - ask your friends questions about what's going on in their lives or even about their past. Not only will this help you get to know your friends even better, but it'll also help them feel more heard and supported, all of which will serve to improve your relationship.

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Show an interest in their interests

Is there a particular movie, book, sport or activity that your friend has been very interested in lately? Check it out for yourself, and not only will you be showing an interest in what they're passionate about, but it may also be your next favorite thing too.

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Make time to see them

Sometimes a text message or phone call isn't enough. No matter how busy you are or how far away your friend is, making some sort of effort to see them at least occasionally will improve your bond and also show your friends just how important they are to you.

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Don't invalidate them

Validation is important in any relationship, and it's important to know that all feelings are valid. While clearing up miscommunications or encouraging one another is always good when needed, make sure you're not minimizing or dismissing your friends' very real feelings and reactions to situations, whether or not they have to do with you.

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Be honest

Sometimes it may seem like telling a white lie can spare someone's feelings or avoid trouble. However, it's best to be as honest as possible with those you love, especially if it's something that will be hard for them to hear. This doesn't mean blurting out whatever comes to mind, however. Make sure you use tact, and also that you know when it's best to hold your tongue, such as when you may not like a romantic partner of theirs very much or think their outfit looks terrible.

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Put some thought into your gifts

If you're giving a friend a gift for an occasion, put some thought into it that shows you really do care about them and pay attention to their interests and who they are. Giving a gift "just because" every once in a while is another great way to show that you were thinking of them.

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Let them know how much you appreciate them

Sometimes gestures aren't enough. Make sure your friends hear it straight from you just how much you love, respect and appreciate them and their presence in your life. You don't have to do overdo it, but it's something they'll definitely appreciate hearing every once in a while.

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Tell them when you're upset

Communication is important in any relationship, and you won't be able to work on any issues you're having with a friend if you don't tell them what they are. While it's not OK to lose your temper, you are allowed to express if you're sad, hurt or angry with a friend because of something they did, and you should do so in order to work on it with them.

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Be understanding

Your friends shouldn't ever feel anxious or scared to tell you if they're too busy or if they're upset themselves. Remember that your friends have a right to their feelings too, and that you're both just trying to get through life together. Be supportive, rather than upset, when your friends communicate their needs as well.

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Try to get to know their other friends

A great way of deepening your own friendship with someone is by connecting your social circles further. Not only will connecting with your friends' other pals give you an excuse to hang out with them more, but they're also potentially great relationships for you as well. You already know you have something in common with them, so there's bound to be more.

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Be supportive of their relationships

Sometimes you really can't stand the person your friend is in a romantic relationship with. It's a very tricky situation, and the best course of action is generally to keep your mouth shut and give the other person a chance (unless your friend is in an abusive or otherwise extremely unhappy situation). This also goes for other friends and family members of theirs who are important to them but may not exactly be amenable to you.

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Keep your promises

A good friend is a reliable friend, and you want to make sure your friends know they can depend on you and take you at your word. Don't make any promises unless you're sure you can keep them. By keeping your promises, you build a stronger relationship and assure your friend you've always got their back.

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Keep their secrets

You can't be a good friend if you're not trustworthy. If a friend tells you anything in confidence, make sure you don't spill the beans to anyone else. Not only is it a matter of principle and something that will also further strengthen your bond, but if your friend finds out you've betrayed their confidence, it can be seriously damaging to your relationship.

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Be more trusting

Friendships are a two-way street, and that includes sharing secrets and information about yourself. Trusting others can be scary, but if you've chosen the right friends, you should be able to build a better bond by confiding in them about your deepest fears, biggest dreams and even just your day-to-day life.

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Try to learn from them

You can gain a lot from the relationships in your life, and having a variety of friends means having a variety of perspectives available to you. Take advantage of those perspectives by learning from your friends' life experiences and skills. Whether it's a life lesson or learning more about a particular subject, your friends are a great resource to enrich your life with.

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Make them feel wanted

One of the biggest reasons we form friendships is for a sense of belonging and feeling wanted. By making your friends feel wanted - whether it's telling them you miss them, showing excitement when you see them, or making sure to invite them whenever you go out - you'll cultivate their sense of belonging, and you make them feel happier too.

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Respect boundaries

Boundaries are extremely important in any relationship. Whether a friend is busy, needs some space or has certain rules of engagement, when you respect their boundaries, you show that you respect them.

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Own up to your mistakes and apologize

Apologizing can be very hard, but it's important to do, especially if you've done something to hurt or upset someone you care about. Acknowledging your mistakes and the harm they've caused, as well as apologizing and promising to do better can go a long way toward repairing the damage and maintaining a healthy relationship.

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Forgive

Not only is it important to be able to apologize, it's also important to be able to receive an apology as well. Friends make mistakes, and forgiveness is important in order to heal and move on. In fact, it'll even strengthen your friendship and help both you and your friend to be kinder people.

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