If you've ever had a bad friend, you know how easy it is to justify their actions to yourself. Maybe they used to be a good friend and something changed? Maybe they were a bad friend the whole time? Either way, you love this friend despite their bad actions towards you and it really hurts when you come to the realization that they are not the friend that they had initially appeared to you to be.

The most important trait in a good friend is empathy. Friends that lack empathy are the ones who always think of themselves and always place their desires above your needs. This is the friend who you always offer rides, but that never provides the same courtesy for you. This is also the friend who makes you feel guilty when you need them to be there for you when your boyfriend breaks up with you, even though you sat up with them for hours the night their dog died. No one should ever be made to feel as if they are a burden, especially by one of their friends. All it takes is a bit of consideration for someone else. Experiencing friends who fail to be there through the good AND the bad showed me just how important this quality of loyalty is.

I try to make empathy one of my utmost priorities in my friendships and relationships. I want to be the friend that others know they can come to when they are in need. I want to be the friend who is always present to give advice and love, especially knowing how I have experienced others be so lacking in this area. I don't want others to have to go through the sadness that I have felt when one of my closest friends turns out to be a bad friend.

It's really not all that hard. You should love your friends. Loving your friends means that sometimes you need to put their needs above your own. Friends who cannot realize this concept and only ever think of themselves are not good friends and they are not people that you need in your life.

Bad friends make you feel alone and result in you always questioning their loyalty. Good friends built you up in love and support. You know you can count on good friends to always be there for you, even when you are struggling.

As terrible as it was, experiencing bad friendships really taught me to appreciate my good friendships. It's so much easier for me to recognize what I need and look for in a good friend after having experienced the heartbreak of bad friendships. Now I know almost immediately after meeting someone who will be a person I can become close to, and who will most likely remain more of an acquaintance than a good friend.

Everyone deserves good and loyal friendships that are life-giving. Good friends make you think, "Wow, they love me so well!" I want to be that friend because I know how terrible it feels to be given less than I deserve.