Skip To Content

    28 Practical Habits And Tips To Become A More Supportive Friend Or Partner

    We love emotional maturity in this house.

    You know the saying, "Blood is thicker than water?"

    Buena Vista Television / Disney–ABC Domestic Television / Via giphy.com

    Well, the full phrase is actually, "The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb," which is to say... friends are pretty dang special!

    And sometimes, when we get caught up with our own lives or have known each other for so long, we *might* take our friends for granted or forget to show them how much we appreciate them.

    NBCUniversal Television Distribution / Via giphy.com

    So here are some everyday habits, tidbits, and pieces of advice that can help you be a better friend. (And if you have one to add, please share in the comments!)

    1. If you're constantly venting to your friend, also be sure to let them know when things are going well.

    Warner Bros. Television Distribution / Via giphy.com

    Just because your friend is a good listener doesn't mean they don't have their own feelings or opinions, or that they're not feeling similarly overwhelmed. It's always nice to hear positive stuff, too. Plus, they're your friend, they want see you do well — they're not just a sounding board.

    2. Don't compare yourself to your friends! Everyone has their strengths, and comparing your "non-strengths" to their strengths isn't going to do anyone any good.

    Nintendo / Via giphy.com

    Think about it like Mario Kart — some karts have higher speed stats, while some karts accelerate faster. Some karts have better traction but weaker handling. Each kart has their own strength, and just because one doesn't accelerate as fast as the other doesn't mean either is better or worse.

    3. Make time to check out something that your friend recommends to you! Even if it's not your vibe, you'll have something to bond over and may be able to understand them better.

    Thunderbird Films / Via giphy.com

    Alternatively, if you don't check it out, it can send the message that you don't care or can't be bothered — which, you should never want your friend to feel.

    4. When a friend is sharing something difficult with you, don't immediately share a similar problem to relate. Instead, make sure you're genuinely listening.

    Netflix / Via giphy.com

    If it feels appropriate, you can share your story to relate to them. But read the room and don't unintentionally shift the conversation to your difficulties. Just listen and respond.

    5. Similarly, when your friend tells you about a problem, don't immediately try to solve it. They're most likely seeking validation and just want to be heard.

    ITV Studios Global Entertainment / Debmar-Mercury/Lionsgate Television / Via giphy.com

    If you're not sure how to respond, just ask your friend if they'd like your advice or would just like you to listen! Emotional support can be just as — or more — valuable than an active solution.

    6. And, if you already know your friend is upset (and maybe why), ask them if they'd rather talk about it — or get their mind off of it.

    Paramount Pictures / Universal Pictures / Via giphy.com

    Sometimes it's nice to have a laugh to distract you from what's getting you down.

    7. Support your friend's growth. If they change their mind about something and make a positive change in their life — whether it be a new belief or behavior — don't judge them negatively.

    HBO Enterprises / Warner Bros. Television Distribution / Via giphy.com

    Ideally, your friendships last over a period of time — meaning you'll both grow along the way. Support that healthy change and growth. Don't crack sarcastic jokes or be condescending. You're not a hypocrite for changing your mind or learning a new perspective along the way.

    8. Whenever you find out an important date — like their birthday, the first day of their new job, or any big event — add it to your calendar. Then, shoot your friend a text the day of.

    giphy.com / Via giphy.com

    Whether it's wishing them a happy birthday or good luck on their first day, it's a super simple but thoughtful way to show them you care!

    9. Don't assume that your seemingly-always-has-it-together friend never needs help. Some people just aren't good at asking for help when they need it, so reach out and offer help when you can.

    VH1 / Via giphy.com

    Maybe they're used to being the "mom" friend or constantly putting everyone else first. Either way, make sure to check in with them and offer help if you feel they could use some! It's a nice gesture, regardless, and shows that you're there for them.

    10. When you make a mistake or hurt your friend, just own up to it, apologize, and work toward moving on.

    Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution / HBO Enterprises / Via giphy.com

    You might want to (over) explain your side or justify your behavior, but it's not just about you. Even if it was an accident or you had good intentions. It might seem like an excuse, so it's best to just acknowledge your mistake and move on.

    11. But if your friend is treating you badly, you're entirely allowed to defend yourself or call them out.

    True Entertainment / Via giphy.com

    We all care about our friends, so we can be lenient and forgiving when we know they're having a hard time. You can help them get past it, but at the end of the day, you can't fully control them — and you should should know where to draw the line.

    12. On that note, set clear boundaries with your friends. It's okay to feel selfish when it comes to your mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

    NBCUniversal Television Distribution / Via giphy.com

    Selfishness has a negative connotation, but it's a disservice to your friends if you're secretly resenting them or being a Debbie Downer when you know you just don't have the energy to socialize at the moment. Set boundaries. It'll help you be a better friend when you want to be there for them and not when you feel obligated to be.

    13. Let your friends know when you're running late! While it's not on purpose, running late can be disrespectful and inconsiderate of their time. So just shoot them a quick apology and text to let them know when to expect you, instead.

    Worldvision Enterprises / Paramount Domestic Television / CBS Paramount Domestic Television / CBS Television Distribution / Via giphy.com

    Your friends will definitely appreciate that instead of sitting around wondering where you're at. And it doesn't have to be deep, just a quick, "Sorry, will be there in 15!" works fine.

    14. Use "I feel... when..." statements to diffuse (and prevent!) arguments.

    Paramount Pictures / Via giphy.com

    Don't just come out the gate saying, "You're making me mad," or upset or whatever. Try saying, "I feel upset when you blah blah..." Most of the times, it's not what you're saying but *how* you say it. Throwing out accusatory statements, no matter how valid or true, probably won't help resolve whatever issue you're having with your friend.

    15. And remember, an argument between you and your friend does not mean it's "you" versus "your friend." It's "you and your friend" versus "the problem."

    Dundee Productions / Via giphy.com

    Don't get bogged down trying to prove your friend wrong or that you're the victim here. The bottom line is that — in any relationship, really — y'all need to resolve this and figure out how you can both make it work going forward.

    16. Immediately tell your friend when you're speaking to them on speakerphone. And mention whoever else is listening!

    NBCUniversal Television Distribution / Via giphy.com

    This isn't a surprise three-way call. And it's not about shit-talking people, either. Even if it's just your sister in the car, let your friend know so that they can share what they're comfortable sharing (or not expose your sex life to your mom).

    17. It's not always worth calling out your friends on small things, especially if it leads to trivial arguments.

    Warner Bros. Television Distribution / Via giphy.com

    So your friend got a year wrong or mispronounced a word. Life's frustrating enough without having to get badgered by your friend when you try to tell a story. Unless it's something serious, it's sometimes best to just let things go.

    18. Be conscious of why you're sharing certain information with certain friends, especially if you're talkative. It's cool to always have something to talk about, but sometimes you gotta know when to not say anything, too.

    Endemol USA / Shapiro/Grodner Productions / Allison Grodner Productions / Fly on the Wall Entertainment / Via giphy.com

    Sometimes this can lead to you oversharing or talking someone's ear off. It's best to be a little selective in what you're telling people so you don't regret it or trap someone in an endless, one-sided conversation with you.

    19. When you and your friend are trying to figure out what to do together, try not to say, "I don't care." Instead, explain that it doesn't matter to you because you're just here to hang out with them.

    ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks / Via giphy.com

    Sure, it's a bit minute! And with your ride-or-dies, you can be blunt. But sometimes it's frustrating to figure out what to do. And if you seem disinterested, it just makes it harder. So specifying that it's not the activity, but the companionship can help keep the vibe up.

    20. If you have anxiety when it comes to socializing (or social events!), remind yourself that your anxiety doesn't actually mean everything will definitely go bad. You're just uncertain, and that's okay.

    Debmar-Mercury / Via giphy.com

    Something that my therapist taught me that I love applying is switching "What if?" with "Even if..." because it allows you to accept whatever might happen and continue on, instead of fixating on that one fear. Especially because it's often beyond your control, anyway.

    21. With new friends, ask questions to drive conversations. If things are feeling a bit awkward, questions are a great way to open up.

    Disney–ABC Domestic Television / Via giphy.com

    You're not interrogating them, but you can ask them general things, like how long they've lived in this city or what kind of music they listen to. Then let the ball roll from there — keep asking deeper questions or share your own thoughts, too!

    22. Keep a list of things your friends like for gift ideas throughout the year.

    NBCUniversal Television Distribution / Via giphy.com

    If your friend mentions wanting something, take note! Literally, toss it in your Notes app. Whenever their birthday or some gift-giving occasion arises, you'll be prepared. They'll be touched you remembered, and you don't have to stress about what the hell to get them. Win, win!

    23. Whenever your friend asks how you're doing, make sure to return the question. Sometimes, they may even want to open up about something but not know how to begin.

    Universal Television / Broadway Video / Via giphy.com

    Plus, it's common courtesy. But seriously, a simple "HBU?" can go a long way.

    24. If your friend shares their creation with you (like a song they wrote or art they made), point out a specific aspect of it that you notice. It's more engaging than a general compliment.

    Paramount Pictures / Via giphy.com

    Compliments are always nice, but saying, "That's cool!" can also be a bit dismissive. (Did ya even look!? ) Okay, but seriously, it'll make your friend feel so much more seen if you take the time to acknowledge something specific about their creation.

    25. If your friend is talking about a subject you don't know much about, it's totally okay to say that you don't have an opinion because you don't know enough about it.

    ITV Studios Global Entertainment / Debmar-Mercury/Lionsgate Television / Via ezgif.com

    Don't feel embarrassed or forced to B.S. your way through something. Just let your friend know that you don't much about whatever they're talking about, and listen instead.

    26. Be willing to walk away from friendships that are doing you more harm than good.

    Warner Bros. Television Distribution / Via giphy.com

    This might seem obvious, but sometimes it's hard to step back and take stock of our friendships. Maybe you're so used to being there for this person that you expect the friendship to be draining. But if that's the case, then recognize it so you can prioritize your well-being and put that energy toward a friend who deserves it.

    27. When you invite your friend somewhere, tell them, "I'd (We'd) love to have you there!" instead of, "You can come if you want." One sounds way more invitational than the other.

    Evolution Media / Dunlop Entertainment / Via giphy.com

    The latter doesn't exactly sound like you want them there, even if you do. Wording matters! Just phrasing something more actively can make your friends think more highly of you and feel more valued over time.

    28. If you have a (new) partner, still make an effort to keep connected with your friends.

    Vice on TV / Via giphy.com

    It's exciting to be with your partner (esp during the honeymoon phase!), but don't ghost your friends — they still need you. Remember to check in and spend time with them, too!

    Do you already do these things and more? If so, share what you do to be a good friend below!

    P.S. if you are worried that some friendships are toxic, check out these red flags and these lessons learned from toxic friendships.