Put your best friendship to the test.
Sure, everyone WANTS to be friends forever (and get matching dainty tats to prove it), but how can you actually tell if a friend is a keeper versus someone who’s really fun and interesting now, but will eventually fade out of your life? Just like romantic relationships, finding the BFF version of «’til death do us part» can be tricky. Here are 11 signs you’re both on the right track to be besties for the long haul:
1. You’re equally proactive about hanging out.
While you can forgive your BFF for «being bad at making plans» right now, after a while, carrying the sole burden of reaching out will wear you down (especially when your own life gets really busy). «Two friends have to feel like they are equally deserving of, and equally invested in the friendship,» says Dr. Irene S. Levine, PhD, psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. «It doesn’t mean that it will feel like that at every moment but the give-and take of the friendship needs to balance out over time.»
Nothing makes you feel more secure than your BFF being just as psyched to hang out with you as you are with them.
2. You don’t disappear on each other without explanation.
«No friendship remains static over time – things change and friends need to be flexible,» says Dr. Levine. «However, good friends do try to carve out time to stay in touch with friends and to explain their absences when they’re romantically involved or exceptionally busy for other reasons.»
Yes, you or your BFF can disappear for a few weekends when you fall in love or work insane hours at your new job. But you’ll still try to hang out (or at least text to know you’re both still around).
3. You both feel REALLY listened to.
Sure, having identical Netflix tastes is great, but if your friend only wants to talk about the latest episode of Black Mirror when you’re going through a rough patch, that could spell trouble.
«Friends need to be active listeners, especially when a friend is upset,» says Dr. Levine. «This means maintaining eye contact and resisting other distractions like looking at [your] phone or around the room. Most times, feeling heard is almost as important as getting advice or solutions.»
4. You do your best to handle your jealousy.
Everyone experiences jealousy, and it can be especially confusing when your best friend is the target. «It’s natural for friends to compare themselves to each other,» says Dr. Levine. «But [you have to] remember that your friend’s happiness hasn’t come at your expense. There were probably times they were envious of you.»
Being able to hold back on telling your friend you’re super jealous of her promotion is key to keeping resentment at bay. It’s what stops you from entering a weird guilt cycle of your friend feeling bad for mentioning the good news in their life and you feeling bad that you can’t be happy for them.
5. You’re acutely aware of when the other person is down.
The other piece to handling jealousy, of course, is not humblebragging your friend to death, especially when they’re not in a good place. «The person who is having a wild stroke of luck needs to be sensitive to their friend’s misfortunes,» says Dr. Levine. «This doesn’t mean they have to conceal their luck or happiness, but they have to realize that their friend may not be able to be a ‘cheerleader’ right now.»
Yeah, some of your friends may forget you just went through a breakup when they show off their new boyfriend, but what distinguishes your true BFF from them is they’ll put your feelings above their need to happily boast about it.
6. You can ask for help without making them your therapist.
«Helping a dear friend, who would help you if needed, doesn’t feel like a sacrifice,» says Dr. Levine. «But if a friend is exceptionally needy and constantly demanding, that can begin to feel like a drain. Your friend can’t be your therapist or counselor.»
At the end of the day, you still have other ways of coping than repeatedly piling all your problems on the same friend.
7. You express hurt in a really healthy way.
«Friends need to be able to feel open enough to discuss their feelings,» says Dr. Levine. «When someone feels hurt, they shouldn’t allow little hurts to snowball into big ones.» Levine suggests using «I» statements and staying away from accusations or passive aggression. Because if you’re that close, you will inadvertently hurt each other’s feelings at least once. Knowing how to navigate those situations can actually improve your bond and glue you together.
8. You give kind criticism, and only when actually necessary.
If you have a BFF who says «edgy»-but-mostly-hurtful things about you under the caveat of «I just tell it how it is,» They. Are. Not. A. Friend. And you will cut them out of your life the moment you find an actually-supportive best friend.
How does one know a friend is truly just looking out for you? «[They] limit [their] criticisms to the small things that a person can change and don’t ruminate about the same negative things over and over,» says Dr. Levine. They also watch their tone and notice how you react to what they just said, so they don’t go too far and hurt your feelings.
9. You don’t bring in the squad when you have a fight.
Never once saying anything behind the person’s back is an impossible standard to hold yourself to, but there’s a difference between airing out a mild annoyance and building a case against your friend so that your mutual friends will take your side. «Close friends are loyal to one another,» says Dr. Levine. «The rule of thumb should be to never indulge in gossip that would be hurtful to your friend if it got back to her.»
10. You’re always doing new things to bring yourselves closer.10. You’re always doing new things to bring yourselves closer.
Your friendship isn’t confined to a bar at Happy Hour – you’ll plan vacations together or bond over the physical torture that is CrossFit. «Shared passions can strengthen a friendship; on the other hand, friends can also expose us to new interests and ways of being,» says Dr. Levine. «Some friendships are talk-and feeling-intensive; others are more heavily based on shared activities.»
Whatever you end up doing, the main thing is you never feel bored together, or like you’re just stuck doing the same exact things you did in high school.
11. You adjust to whatever big life changes come your way.
Unless you’re very lucky, you probably won’t be in the same location 24/7, especially as you get older. «Long-distance friendships are less spontaneous and convenient,» says Dr. Levine. «To sustain and nurture a long-distance friendship, two friends need to have a solid emotional connection and be willing to make an effort to maintain the relationship.»