Expressing gratitude for genuine friendships

July 25, 2023

Collage created by Yael Judah with image by Bansi Patel, CorrelateStudio from Pixabay

Yael Judah appreciates what constitutes healthy friendships

I made my first best friend when I was in Year 10. Four years later and we still like playing games and drawing. Having common interests, hobbies and activities that you both enjoy can strengthen the bond between friends, as they are things that can be done together.

In this great friendship, I recognise the importance of feeling comfortable, being ourselves and having respect for each other. True friends accept each other for who they are, embracing both strengths and weaknesses.

My friend and I are able to support one another in challenging times, and we can also have fun and a good laugh! Having someone to relate to and confide in is really important for our wellbeing. Being able to express feelings, and concerns freely, while also listening to your friend, promotes understanding and deepens connection.

I believe these are the main qualities required in having a good friendship. Another one is being trustworthy as it means you can tell each other stuff, such as secrets, without being afraid your friend will tell other people. Trust forms the foundation of any healthy relationship.

Friends who possess empathy can understand and relate to each other’s emotions and experiences

It’s important to be respectful of someone’s boundaries and know when to give them space. This shows you care about your friend’s needs. Being empathic is important too as you take their feelings into account, especially if they are struggling or need your support. Friends who possess empathy can understand and relate to each other’s emotions and experiences.

Healthy friendships have a positive impact on everyone involved. In an unhealthy friendship, this isn’t the case. Often, toxic friendships have an imbalance of power, where one person is trying to please the other, afraid that in not doing so the friendship will end.

Friendship should involve balanced give-and-take. If you’re the only one making an effort to maintain the friendship, or if your friend consistently takes advantage of your kindness, it may be an unhealthy dynamic.

I believe social media can play either a positive or negative role in friendships, depending on how it’s used. On Whatsapp, in particular, you can keep in touch with friends when you can’t always get to see them. Other platforms can be used to take selfies with each other and share what you’ve been up to.

However, social media can also be damaging to friendships. When people get caught up in comparing each other’s social media profiles, feelings of jealousy and inadequacy can arise.

Remember that no friendship is perfect, and there will always be ups and downs along the way

My best friend left our school last year, but we’re still friends. We keep in touch via Whatsapp and sometimes meet up on weekends. I’m grateful that they are still part of my life and for having such a genuine friendship.

I’ve made other friends too since they left, who I also get on well with and feel really comfortable around.

My advice to people who want to develop positive friendships is to just be yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not to impress people, and only be friends with someone who respects you and cares about your feelings.

Schools and colleges could help young people develop positive friendships by teaching the difference between healthy friendships and toxic ones. I also think we should be taught how to avoid unhealthy friendships, which could be done via role-play workshops.

Remember that no friendship is perfect, and there will always be ups and downs along the way. Embracing the good, facing the bad, and working through the challenges can strengthen the bonds and make our friendships even more robust.

I’m really thankful that I have people in my life who I can trust and have fun with, as well as support when they need it. It really does help to practise being grateful as it means you focus on the good stuff in life, rather than the bad. This could help you gain a more positive perspective on life!

Yael is currently studying Digital Media at Middlesex University, and is interested in spreading a positive image of autism. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing chess and listening to music.

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