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What Are Friendship Green Flags At University?

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One in every five UK students say they don’t have a ‘true friend’ at University, according to a survey of more than 12,000 second and third years nationally. So what qualities should you look for in a person that makes a good friend, and how can you recognise these green flags when exposed to so many people at university? Let's delve into the qualities that form the foundation of meaningful friendships.

1. Acceptance and Non-Judgement

A true friend embraces you for who you are, flaws and all. They allow you to be your true self. They don't make you feel like you need to exaggerate aspects of yourself into something you're not or force you into doing things you don’t really want to. Instead, they offer unconditional acceptance and support your personal growth. A non-judgemental attitude allows you to open and be vulnerable, knowing that you won't be criticised for your choices or feelings. Although boosting your self confidence is great, a large contributor to this is surrounding yourself with people who bring out your best and most authentic self.

2. Empathy and Active Listening

A good friend not only hears your words but listens. They show empathy by understanding and sharing your feelings. Even when they don't fully comprehend your situation, they try to understand, ask thoughtful questions, and provide validation. It may not fix your problems, but it is nice to talk out your problems with someone.

3. Reliability and Dependability

At University, it is good to have a sense of independence, but you may not always want to do things alone. People who consistently flake out on your arranged time together, whether that be a study session or your food shop you like to do together, can be frustrating! Reliability in keeping promises, being punctual, and showing up when they have said they would creates a sense of security in the friendship.

4. Shared Values and Interests

While differences can enrich a friendship, having shared values and interests provides a strong foundation. Common ground allows for meaningful conversations, shared experiences, and a sense of belonging. You will gravitate towards these people much sooner if you actively look for them through making the most of student societies, or social media, and be open about what gives you joy. Whether it's bonding over films, being a green student, or a similar outlook on life, these commonalities contribute to a lasting bond.

5. Supportive and Encouraging

University provides so many opportunities for achievement, a good friend cheers you on in your endeavours, celebrates your success, and offers a shoulder to lean on when things don't go as planned. They believe in your potential even when you doubt yourself and they never make it feel like a competition. It makes the outcome so much better when you have people who are genuinely invested in you.

6. Communication and Respect

Effective communication is key to resolving conflicts, expressing feelings, and maintaining a healthy friendship. It is good to remember everyone is on their own journey at university so be understanding when someone is seemingly not displaying all these qualities and discuss these concerns. Good friends are comfortable addressing misunderstandings and offering feedback without fear of damaging the relationship. Not only this, but they also respect your space, and your boundaries, especially when conflicts have come from a place of stress or burnout.  Openness creates an environment where both parties can grow and learn from each other.

7. Open Mindedness

Friendships require investment, just like any other valuable relationship. Spending quality time together, whether it's through shared experiences or heartfelt conversations, strengthens the bond. Find someone who is as enthusiastic for you both to go on a walk or spend a quiet evening with you as they are trying a new bar or partying together. Especially in the face of busy schedules and a student budget, you have to find someone who is willing to work around this.


In a world where superficial connections are prevalent, a good friend stands out as a treasure worth cherishing. The qualities of acceptance, empathy, reliability, shared values, support, communication, and open-mindeness form the mosaic of a meaningful friendship. These qualities go beyond convenience and casual interactions, shaping a relationship that enriches both parties' lives. And remember, keep these qualities in your own practices, as you'll not only become a better friend but also attract those who embody the essence of true friendship.

Freya is a Marketing student at the University of Portsmouth, and is currently on a placement year as marketing assistant at GRB! Outside of work she enjoys wellness podcasts, going out with friends, and audiobooks. 

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