Qualities That Can Make A Good Friendship

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle, a reflection.

Friendship is not about quantity but quality.

One of the qualities we love about a friend is goodness. There can only be good friends if the persons involve have a common aim at what is good.

Since not everyone is not good at finding good friends, what then are the qualities that make one a good friend?

“A friend to be one who intends and does what is good to another for that other’s sake and one who sympathizes with his friend in his sorrows and in his joys.”

Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle

First, those who intend good things for others

If someone is wishing good things to happen for others or for us, that person can potentially become our good friend.

Of course not anyone who wishes us good things can be our friend. It is being human to wish someone good things because what is good is the wish of every sane man most of all.

But those who wish us good things by reason of advantage may never become our good friend. Because once the source of advantage ceases, the intention stops, so as the forming of friendship.

When someone intends good things to happen for us on a basis of kindly feeling—and this kindly feeling endures in a certain period, mutually known, and reciprocated—it will ripen into friendship and more likely to be a good one.

Second, those who do what is good for others

If we consider ourselves a good person, generally speaking, we look for a good friend—like aims at like.

In friendship, quarrels arise when we realize we have different desires or sentiments. If not appropriately acted upon, it would cause damage to the relationship. The good thing to do when differences arise is to proportionate—which is to find the mean and what is fair for each.

Look out for the person who would try to do that. Because he is the person who does what is good; thus, knows how to preserve the friendship. That person can potentially become a good friend.

Lastly, those who sympathize with us in times of joy and sorrow

In times of joy, the celebration is not complete without the presence of our friends. Some friends would even prepare surprises and gifts which we accept without hesitation.

In times of sorrow, we keep it to ourselves. But if we can no longer keep it alone, we seek the presence of our friends—for a shoulder to cry on or to have some booze.

But we may ask, “Why do we have more friends during the good times than the bad times?”

What is good is likable in the sight of men; whereas, what is bad is dislikable. The likable attract more people but the dislikable gathers the least attraction. As Aristotle said in the book, “…since to avoid the painful and aim at the pleasurable is one of the most obvious tendencies of human nature.”

The same person we invite for a celebration and we call in time of distress is the person we consider as a good friend. But a good friend who comes uncalled for during our misfortune is heaven-sent and rare.

There is no magic in making good friends. In order to have good friends, we have to be a good friend with ourselves first.

Again, friendship is not about quantity but quality; let us now intend good, do good, and sympathize with others. For these are the qualities that constitute a good friendship.


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My 2020 goal is to read a book per month; share with people what I learn from and feel about the book. For June 2020, the book I read is Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle.


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