What does it take to be a BFF (Best Friend Forever)?
Those who can stay friends throughout life have certain unique traits that get them through the ups and downs of friendship.
I know because I’ve been friends with several people my whole life and observed what personality traits are necessary.
Friendships, like relationships, won’t always be happy and fun…
But when you have a deep connection with somebody it’s worth nurturing and protecting.
Here’s the kind of person who does that:
The lifetime friend is present.
Even when he or she is busy, they are never beyond the reach of a text message or call.
When they can’t talk right now, they let you know when they can talk.
I have lifelong friends I don’t speak to as much because they’re busy with family and career.
But they still get back to me about a time they’ll be able to talk and be more present, and we talk then.
Lifelong friends stay loyal to each other, not out of obligation but out of mutual respect and affection for each other.
This means no gossiping and trash-talking about each other.
It also means they support each other’s wins and celebrate victories.
They’re there for each other when times are tough and confusing as well.
The keyword here is: unconditional loyalty.
Lifelong friendship almost always means that your purpose in life is connected in some way to that of your close friend.
Finding your purpose includes linking up and collaborating with those who share a similar or connected purpose.
This isn’t just about career, it’s your deepest friendships, too.
It’s often not even about money or career, but about the deepest and most meaningful pursuits in your life and how your lifelong friend also connects with this.
German author and philosopher Johann Goethe once said that certain people have a predetermined attraction to one another as friends, partner and colleagues.
He called this the theory of “elective affinities” and wrote in his 1809 book “Family By Choice” (die Wahlverwandtschaften):
“For as human beings who may be well inclined to each other by nature, yet hold more firmly together when the law cements them, so are stones also, whose forms may already fit together, united far better by these binding forces.”
Some of us aren’t only friends by choice, but out of our very nature are drawn to those who are similar to us and also aligned at achieving a similar purpose to us.
True friends who stay friends are consistently sincere with each other.
They don’t use each other to vent or take out their problems on, not by any means…
But they are honest about what’s going on in their lives.
This is why a lifelong friendship is so much deeper than the average friendship:
Because real honesty is both expected and accepted.
Lifelong friendship involves consistent honesty.
Not only do you and your friend speak sincerely about what you really think and feel:
You do your best to ensure that the information or advice you talk about with your friend is accurate.
You’re honest about what’s going on in your life, and you’re honest about even the messy details.
Which brings up the next point…
Lifelong friends don’t stand on ceremony.
This goes back to being sincere and the other points I’ve emphasized here.
Friends who stay friends aren’t afraid to offer the unvarnished truth about what they think.
Sometimes the truth may even be ugly.
Sometimes they may judge their friend even in unfair ways and this can cause fights and misunderstandings.
But real friends aren’t off some publicity poster; they have ups and downs like any romantic couple, but always with good intentions.
Nobody could remain friends with someone their whole life if they were too judgmental.
We’re all going to judge our friends at times in ways that might hurt them, as I mentioned earlier.
But tolerance ultimately has to be the reigning trait.
There will be times you feel your friend is on the wrong path or staying in a relationship that’s bad for them and so on.
You want so desperately to save them or change the situation, but a big part of true and deep friendship is being tolerant of the line where your life ends and your friend’s life and decisions begin.
Generosity is a key component of any friendship that stands the test of time.
This includes generosity of every type…
Being generous with your time, energy, love, money, and patience.
Every friendship has give and take and times when you’re enjoying it more than other times (and vice versa).
Humor goes a long way in any relationship, including friendship.
Life is full of tragedies and disappointments, and humor keeps you and your friends buoyed by hope and laughter when times aren’t good.
All my friends are people I genuinely enjoy joking around with.
The closer friends we are and the more years we’ve been friends the more we trade jokes back and forth, share memes and have a shared sense of humor.
Even if you have a different sense of humor than your friends, seeing them laugh is always enjoyable.
Every lifelong friendship runs on mutual listening.
Both people need to be able and willing to listen to each other and also allow the other person to talk.
This won’t always be a perfect balance, of course.
But that general willingness to listen and really hear what your friend is saying is absolutely necessary.
You won’t always have the answers, either.
If your friend wants advice or is going through a rough time, sometimes they just need you to listen to them and understand.
There isn’t always a clear answer about what to do or how to respond.
But just listening deeply is comforting in and of itself sometimes.
It may sound obvious, but caring about your friend is a key component of a lifelong friendship.
If you really don’t care a whole lot either way, the friendship was either not that deep to start with or is effectively over.
Lifelong friends go through all sorts of ups and downs and life sometimes separates them in many ways.
But they never stop caring and thinking of each other and how they’re doing.
Friends who stay friends for life are grateful to have each other in their lives.
Even when things get a bit tense of they’re going through a real valley in their life, they don’t forget to feel happy they have such a friend.
Many people don’t.
Some people are just very introverted and find it hard to make friends.
Others have a huge number of friends but none that are very close or who they can confide in.
Having even one lifelong friend you can always trust is a huge blessing.
Lifelong friends are deeply considerate of each other’s time and space.
No matter how far removed they are by geography or how different their schedules, they respect each other’s boundaries.
They intuitively know when their friend needs a bit of space or might be feeling lonely or needing some company.
They’re also considerate about unique issues or vulnerabilities their friend may have.
Every lifelong friendship rests on a foundation of real respect.
Lifelong friendships also have their fair share of practical considerations.
From advice and sharing ideas to collaborating in your purpose and affinities that I mentioned, close lifelong friends are able to navigate practical matters.
They help each other out in practical ways and are able to be a real bonus for each other in navigating the complexities, bureaucracy and confusion of life.
Friendship isn’t just about having a connection and emotional bond, it can also be about mutual respect in dealing with practical challenges, too.
Lifelong friends have patience with each other and with life.
So many changes and frustrations take place in life, and it’s necessary to have patience with yourself and other people in order to make a friendship last.
Lifelong friends grow in maturity throughout their lives and help each other out in becoming more grounded and patient as well.
Friendship that goes the distance
Lifelong friendships are able to weather distance, distractions and challenges.
Those who remain friends throughout life have times when they’re closer and times when they’re more focused on other parts of their life.
But they never forget the special place that their friend holds in their heart and their priorities.
Lifelong friendship is a rare and priceless gift with no peer.
Valuing somebody with a unique place in your heart is a form of love that no time or space can ever destroy.
As Bruce Springsteen sings in “Terry’s Song”:
“Love is a power greater than death, just like the songs and stories told
And when she built you, brother, she broke the mold…”