The Power of Lifelong Friendships

Lifelong friendships are rare — and that’s part of what makes them so special. Cherish your opportunities if you are so very lucky to have such a gift, and don’t take for granted the relationships you have. 

Are we really meant to have the same set of friends throughout our entire lives? After all, we move to different places, we change, we drift apart, and grow in unique ways.  Sometimes we outgrow each other — and that’s perfectly normal. But the friendships that last for decades are truly something to treasure.

We have been tested over the past year in many ways. Having faced this difficult and confining time, we know that one of the hardest parts has been the distance created for all of us in some way or another. With this in mind, let’s take a step back and examine how the depth of true friendship resonates in our lives, despite distance, pandemic, or any reason that life has placed upon us. What’s important is to understand the value of these relationships, as we continue to make them meaningful and successful.

1. Friends show up for each other when it matters most.
When you are friends with someone for many years, you’ll inevitably see each other through some of life’s biggest challenges: the death of loved ones, breakups, divorces, layoffs and health issues. Fair weather friends may fall off the map when the going gets tough. But lifelong friends know they can count on each other to be there through it all with a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or just a welcome distraction from the heartache.

2. Friends plan for transitions — and keep talking once they happen.
Lifelong friends are proactive about figuring out how they’ll continue to fit into each other’s lives, even as circumstances change — whether it’s a cross-country move, a baby (or grandbaby!) a new career or a romantic relationship. Of course, no amount of planning will make these transitions seamless — there will be growing pains along the way. It’s the willingness to adapt and put effort into maintaining the friendship that counts.

3. Friends remember things happening in each other’s lives, big and small.
Friends might text you on your birthday, but your nearest and dearest pals go a step further. For instance, they never forget to reach out on the anniversary of your mom’s death or send you flowers or your favorite dessert. They also remember to check in on things you may have only mentioned in passing, like an upcoming favorite movie or a doctor’s appointment you were nervous about. Friends are always thinking.

4. Friends are able to discuss issues in their relationship honestly and maturely.
When issues arise, longtime friends are willing to work through them together. Lesser friends might sweep their frustrations or hurt feelings under the rug, too scared to tackle these problems, hoping they just disappear. Lifelong friends, however, are committed to addressing whatever issues come up. They’re confident their friendship can withstand uncomfortable conversations and know that having them will only strengthen — not destroy — their bond.

5. Friends are vulnerable with each other.
Unlike casual friendships that tend to only scratch the surface, lifelong friends know they can let their guard down with each other. They can talk about their fears, their flaws, their mistakes and insecurities and know they won’t be judged or rejected.

6. Friends make time for quick catch-ups and longer get-togethers.
Spending quality time together IRL (in-real-life) (even if it’s only once a year for long-distance BFFs) can be an essential key ingredient. To maintain the long-term friendships in their life, try to aim for a mix of brief check-ins and extended hangouts together if possible, and wherever possible, even if it’s only by phone.

Those regular check-ins keep the friendship humming along. But without longer hangouts (when you can ideally spend a day or more together) in the mix, it’s difficult to have those unexpected conversations that take the friendship to the next level. Lifelong friends know how nourishing this extended time together can be and prioritize it when they can.

7. Friends give each other grace even when they go a while without talking.
In an ideal world, we’d keep in touch with our pals regularly, but sometimes life gets in the way. Long-term friends understand these ebbs and flows and try not to take them personally. In time, they come back together and pick up where they left off. There’s never a question.

 

*Portions of article reprinted from: https://www.huffpost.com