• Keeping Friends

Guest Post – Friendships after 50: How to be a good friend 

Published: March 6, 2016 | Last Updated: March 7, 2016 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
Cindy La Ferle (rear right) with neighbor pals at a holiday gathering

Cindy La Ferle (rear right) with neighbor pals at a holiday gathering

Journalist Cindy La Ferle offers practical tips for doing your best to be a good friend in midlife and beyond. 

My colleague and friend journalist Cindy La Ferle wrote an excellent feature entitled, “Rebooting the Buddy System,” which was just published in the March 6th edition of Michigan Prime (a supplement to the Sunday Detroit News and Free Press).

The article speaks to the benefits of rebuilding social circles in midlife and beyond. In crafting this well-researched and organized piece, Cindy interviewed both friendship experts and dozens of her readers. She graciously offered to share the excellent sidebar as a guest post on The Friendship Blog.

Detroit News and Free Press logo

How To Be A Good Friend

(reprinted with permission)

Friendship experts and PRIME readers agree that friendships thrive on mutual care and effort. Follow their tips to strengthen your own: 


Don’t wait to be contacted. Invite pals to lunch, plan activities, start a club, or host a gathering.


Express interest in others; ask questions and be a good listener. Don’t monopolize conversations with your own problems or issues.


Be responsive. Stay in touch consistently with emails, texts, calls, birthday cards and thank-you notes.


Return favors, dinner invitations and other gestures of kindness. Aim for a reasonable balance of give-and-take.


Be there when times get tough — and to applaud your friends’ successes. Avoid making competitive or judgmental comments. 


Honor personal boundaries. Don’t pressure friends to meet your needs or to be available for you all the time.


Never take friends for granted. Express gratitude and affection often.

Click here and flip to page 5 to read the entire Michigan Prime article online.

Cindy La Ferle is a nationally published author and newspaper columnist who specializes in lifestyles topics and midlife issues. Check out Cindy’s blog: Cindy La Ferle’s Home Office.

Are there other tips you might add to Cindy’s list on how to be a good friend?

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Comments (6)

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  1. Karen says:

    Dear Cindy, Thank you for trying to bring some clarity to making friends for older women. However, I question how much effort or experience you really have in this subject. “Initiate”? How would you feel if you were only one to initiate? “Communicate”? How would you feel if you were the only one to offer a sympathetic ear and no one ever asked you, “How are you?” or “What do you think?” “Reciprocate”? After countless events at my home, I can honestly say that the number of returns have been abysmally low (say out of 100 events, maybe 1 reciprocation). “Support”? I send birthday cards, birthday greetings, messages of sympathy, congratulations on another grandchild, etc. The support is nil. I don’t even have the energy to respond to “Respect” and “Affirm.” I have read countless articles just like yours offering what I can only assume you think is helpful advice. It isn’t helpful. It only serves to remind me that at my stage of life, being comfortable with or accepting of aloneness is the only option.

    • Cindy L says:

      Karen, you make some very good points. I should clarify that only the sidebar to my 1,000-word article that appeared in Michigan PRIME (of the Detroit Free Press) has been excerpted here on this blog. You might want to go and read the meat of the article. Among the responses to my poll for this article, many of the people made the same complaints you have — about the lack of “initiation” and, especially, lack of reciprocation. I’ve experienced this myself, and I agree it is frustrating to feel that you’re always the one hosting the party — or always the one to reach out to new friends.

      But because I don’t give up, I do find that some people DO initiate and reciprocate — in the best way they can. When people fail to return the effort of friendship, I think it’s fair and reasonable to move on and stop trying. But do give yourself credit for trying!

      In my complete article, Irene Levine mentioned how important it is to have several friends — a group of friends — and not to expect too much from one person. I find this helps a great deal.In the past, when I expected too much from a “best friend,” I was often disappointed or hurt because she couldn’t live up to my expectations. Today, I no longer have one “best friend” — instead, I nurture many different kinds of friendships — and I find that each person in my circle has something special and invaluable to offer.

      I recommend Shasta Nelson’s first book, “Friendships Don’t Just Happen” as well as her newest guide, “Frientimacy,” which answers a lot of the good questions you’ve posed here.

  2. Jared says:

    This list seems self-explanatory, but most people do not follow it.

    For example,

    I hate being the one to initiate ALL THE TIME. Yes, I will do it, but if the other person doesn’t initiate sometimes, I grow resentful.

    Finding friends who reciprocate invitations, etc. is a a big pain the butt. When you find someone who reciprocates and initiates, you’ve found gold.

  3. Amy F says:

    Yes. Communication is one if the post important factor in successfull relationships.
    II you feel conflict, don’t let it fester.
    Ask, don’t make assumptions.
    Express feelings in a healthy way.
    Ask for what you need. If you want reassurance, be direct.
    If you ask for an opinion, respect the opinion even if you don’t like it, since you asked.
    Talk to, not about.
    If your friend needs to have the last word, let her.

    • Cindy La Ferle says:

      I love these, Amy! Thank you.

    • Kesha Haggans says:

      Though I’m not 50 yet (I’m 38), I’ve learned a great deal from 2 long term friendships that have drastically changed within the last year. I think it’s important to learn what kind of friend your friends need you to be. In my eyes, I really thought I was a good friend (and honestly I was), but it was evident that the friendship was viewed differently in their eyes. I had to learn to accept that and be ok with it and learn from it. With the new relationships I am currently building , I now know that it’s crucial to be the type of friend that person needs you to be and it works BOTH ways.

      Learn what this person is suppose to offer you in the friendship.
      No ONE person can be everything to anybody!!

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