We’re social animals, and even at our darkest we still need to reach out to someone. A confidant is that perfect person; they listen without judgment, they might be a source of strength and good advice, and they keep your secrets safe. But who should that person be? How do you know they’re trustworthy or even capable of listening? There are many forms of sponsors – from clergy to a 12-step to another friend in recovery – but we’re going to drill down even further.
There are at least ten basic qualities to look for when finding that perfect confidant.
The Ingredients to the Perfect Confidant
An Active Listener
An active listener doesn’t offer advice unless you ask them for it – nor do they make the conversation about themselves or their issues.
Someone who can feel what you’re feeling – either because they’ve experienced your problems themselves or because they’re very tuned in.
They need to be trustworthy and have the integrity to keep your conversations between the two of you.
They shouldn’t assign blame when hearing your stories. Instead, they should be capable of understanding that we’re all human and that we all make mistakes.
Someone who allows their own emotions and vulnerabilities to show through without any pretense.
Being self-aware allows a person to better empathize with others.
They need to be your rock; they can’t be prone to emotional or dramatic outbursts, or they could make things worse.
Someone who can see the forest for the trees when you’re too emotional to be able to.
Someone who can listen for hours at a time or can offer their time without the need to constantly interject their opinion.
They need to have an uplifting outlook on life and give you the strength to keep going.
The Ring Theory
Another rule of finding a good confidant is what the LA Times calls “Ring Theory.” This involves the creation of “rings” of people around you and what they can offer you.
First, you begin with a small ring that’s made up of people directly affected by whatever the problem is (and, of course, if you’re the one with the issue, you go in this ring).
Next, draw a second ring around the first and in this place people close to you (spouse, bestie, etc).
Then continue drawing circles placing people in each according to decreasing intimacy levels. From there, you’re left with a visualization of who to talk to (and who to avoid) – and then it’s down to one simple rule:
“If someone is in an outside or bigger circle, complain to them. If they are in an inner or smaller circle, comfort them and listen.”
That’s comfort IN, dump OUT.
The Casa Capri website talks about ways to show your loved ones how thankful you are for them – and this covers not just what makes good qualities for us but for a confidant.
How to be the Confidant
Offering a sincere apology can demonstrate that you know you have caused them pain. Can your confidant apologize when necessary?
Not great at speaking your emotions? Sit down and write an email to your loved ones expressing just how you feel about that. Ask yourself how does your confidant communicate best with you?
3- Showing Up
Spending time together will allow you both to restart your relationship and begin creating new positive memories. Ask yourself if your confidant is good with face to face meetings.
4- Lending a Hand
Helping family or friends around the house or with any task they may need assistance with is a great way to thank them. Would your confidant help you or others like that too?
But having a confidant to talk to over the phone is one thing – having them engage with you in an activity can bring benefits to both parties. Your confidant could be a work-out buddy or a chess opponent or a writing partner.
Find some mutual ground that allows you to both talk while doing an activity, that way when you get together, it’s not just one-sided.