Emotional Health and Friendship Quality

Because emotional health and relationship health are so intertwined it’s important to take stock of who you’re surrounding yourself with.  Aside from your intimate partnerships, who are your friends?  Are they people who support and lift you up?  Or are they people who ultimately are more focused on themselves – perhaps even at your expense?

Many aren’t necessarily clear in their understanding of what qualities make up a healthy, nurturing, supportive friendship.  This lack of clarity may be the result of never being modeled this type of relationship.  Whatever the case, it’s never too late to take stock of the people in your life – and consider making some changes.

Are you unsure about how to determine the quality of your friendships?  Read the following “quality of friendship” indicators.

Great friendships are those where your friend:

  • listens and takes an interest in you.
  • is someone you can relax, be yourself and maybe even laugh with
  • is reliable in life’s when life hits you with a curve ball
  • is authentic even if it means giving an honest opinion you may not like to hear.
  • makes you feel comfortable enough around them that you can be yourself too
  • celebrates your accomplishments with you – and you with them

Potentially unhealthy friendships are those where your friend:

  • appears not to be listening and constantly draws the conversation back to them
  • repeatedly doesn’t prioritize you in the way you prioritize them
  • can’t be bothered when things get really hard in your life and you need support
  • is competitive with you in a way that feels uncomfortable
  • says and behaves in ways that are opposing, leaving you feeling badly in the end

There are many reasons that can explain why people behave primarily from the first or from the second list.  Those who had secure upbringings where emotional safety and security was present tend to be pretty good at demonstrating positive friendship behaviors.  Often those who do not have not been modeled this in their lives, particularly in their family of origin.  They may have false beliefs about their worthiness and lovability.  For this reason, it’s important not to instantly write people off.  Express how their behavior makes you feel and that you care for them but you really need things to be different.  Give your friends the benefit of the doubt.

If despite giving it your best to improve the quality of your friendship – and you continue to suffer emotionally – perhaps it’s time to rethink the situation.

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of with emotional and relationship health articles, guides, courses and other tools for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in,, and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers Emotional Health and Relationship Consultations via email, phone or video conference.

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