In this day and age, it's hard to determine who out there is really your friend, or if they're just out there to pass the time with you. Make no mistake, your trust is a valuable commodity. Knowing who you can trust is extremely important so you can avoid future mistakes and potential pain. I've been hurt in the past by people who I considered friends, only to learn that they weren't trustworthy. So how do I decide now who deserves my trust? I remind myself of these 3 points.
The main theme that encompasses all three points is...
OBSERVE THEIR ACTIONS
Only by objectively looking at them, can you see past your own biases.
1. Look at what they DO, rather than what they SAY.
There is a saying out there that goes like this: "Everything I hear is a lie, but everything I see is the truth". In these times, a lot of people have learned to talk the talk, but never walk the walk. There are people who will lie blatantly, and there are people who simply do not have integrity behind their words. It's important to understand that they can say all they want, but if those words never translate into actions, then they're just lying to themselves - and possibly to you as well. It is our actions that define us.
2. How do they treat others?
If they generally treat others poorly, ask yourself what are the chances that you will be their exception? When I talk to someone, and we end up talking about others, I am usually conscious of their attitude towards another individual. There are people out there who will not hesitate to speak badly of them. It's important to realize that they may speak the same way about you to other people. Those that treat others with respect, loyalty, and integrity are likely those that will behave the same towards you.
3. Think about your past interactions.
Don't fool yourself buddy. People are not that quick to change. If they have betrayed your trust in the past, think carefully about giving them another chance. In most cases, the mistakes they made will be repeated. UNLESS they have a huge realization that what they did was wrong, I would be very cautious. If you do decide to give them another chance, don't take that chance with something that matters a lot to you. Do it with something you're okay with losing.
It's important that I say that life is not meant to be lived being paranoid about everyone. But these tips above, when you're conscious of them, will help greatly in eliminating negative influences in your life. When you spot red flags in any of these categories, perhaps they do not deserve your trust. So use this system to filter them out. Then, take that trust and give it to someone who truly deserves it. These people will become your greatest friends and your greatest allies.