Is there someone in your life that you consider a lifelong friend? Are you confident that no matter what, they’ll be there for you?
Friendship is a beautiful thing. Research shows that lifelong friends can do so much for not only your mental health, but your physical health as well. In terms of happiness, having an enriched social life increases your sense of self, belonging, and purpose, all leading to much more happiness (Cleary et al. 2018). And physically, strong friendships in adult life especially can increase your pain tolerance and boost your immune system (Miller 2014).
Think you have a lifelong friend? Here are 8 signs.
1. You can confide in them
Being comfortable confiding in your friend is a great sign of a long-lasting friendship. In order to do so, you have to trust your friend, feel comfortable around them, and be sure they will not judge you. Checking all of those boxes with confidence and comfort is good.
In addition, confiding in someone is a sign of connectedness, which is not only a strong sign of friendship, but also great for your mental health, because it intensifies your sense of purpose and belonging (Cleary et al. 2018). To belong is to feel comfortable and confident with who you are, and if you feel that way around your friend, you know there’s a good that they’re here to stay!
2. You enjoy similar things
Think about a few people you consider close friends. Do you enjoy doing some of the same things? Have similar hobbies? Study similar things in school? Having similar interests is actually a sign of a lifelong friendship.
It may seem superficial at first, to put importance on something like hobbies and interests, but research actually shows that forming friendships based on common interests created a valued sense of community between you (Xiao et al. 2018).
This is definitely not a hard and fast rule, and it’s more applicable to making friends in college or school, where your lives are more or less grouped by your interests and hobbies. With that said though, enjoying similar things has the potential to ensure a lifelong friendship as they can lead to sharing similar passions and values.
3. You feel comfortable and safe around them
This sounds like a given, but remember that comfort includes not only physical comfort but emotional comfort. Do you feel safe to express yourself around your friend? Or do you feel like you have to hide parts of who you are in fear that they’ll judge you? All of this has to do with emotional comfort and safety, which are so important in a lifelong friendship.
To achieve this in a friendship, it’s important that both people listen to each other actively with a non-judgemental mind (Mayo Clinic Staff 2019). You should feel that no matter what, your friend has your best interest at heart and appreciates things that make you, you.
4. They emotionally support you when you don’t feel well
True friendships don’t fizzle out when things get difficult. Ups and downs are a part of life, and a lifelong friend will be willing to be there for you through all of it. You could be sick, sad, heartbroken, or worried, and a true friend won’t turn their back on you.
Being in social circles does wonders to improve our mental health: they make us feel loved, secure, and taken care of. When people are mentally unwell, they tend to isolate themselves, and friends who still emotionally support them can actually help pull them out of the debilitating effects of social isolation (Mental Health Foundation).
5. They inspire you
Your friends can make you want to become the best version of who you are! According to the Mayo Clinic, lifelong friendships can encourage you to take up healthier habits, such as exercising, overusing substances, or overthinking things (Mayo Clinic Staff 2019).
Have you ever had a friend who helped you quit doing something that was difficult for you to quit on your own? A lot of times, loneliness can cause you to perpetuate mentally destructive habits. But secure, long-lasting friendships can change your perspective by showing you that you aren’t really alone, and that in itself can help remove some of your negative thinking patterns (Miller 2014).
6. You feel valued around them
Have you ever been hanging out with a friend and they were on their phone the whole time? Or talked so much about themselves that they forgot to ask you anything? Every once in a while, if your friend is super busy or having a bad day, that is nothing to worry about. But, if this is a recurring pattern between you and your friend, it may leave you feeling less valuable to them than you should.
By contrast, lifelong friends will show you through their words and actions how much they care about you. This is so important because feeling valued and cared about is known to contribute to your happiness as an individual (Cleary et al. 2018). Rather than talking only about themselves, they will call you to check in on you. They will show up on time and when they are with you, they will give you their full attention. Lifelong friends will lift you up when you’re feeling down, simply by being present with you and reminding you how much you matter to them.
7. They’re honest with you
Have you had a friend who called you out when you made a mistake, but still didn’t leave your side? You may have felt embarrassed or even angry at the time, but that friend truly has your best interest at heart and wants to help you succeed.
Friends like these are so important and usually lifelong because they have shown you that not only will they be there for you, but that you can trust them to give you their honest opinion to help you succeed, rather than sitting back, saying nothing, and watching you fail.
8. They respect your boundaries
Believe it or not, boundaries are crucial in friendships. They make sure that you grow as an individual and that you and your friends don’t become too dependent on each other.
If there is something you don’t want to talk about, a lifelong friend will accept that and continue to emotionally support you rather than distance themselves out of anger. Boundaries are necessary because they keep you safe, and a good friend will make sure not to cross ones that you have set.
We hope we were able to give you some insight on a few of the qualities of a lifelong friend. Have you made a lifelong friend? Let us know. Thanks for reading!
- Cleary M, Lees D, Sayers J (2018). “Friendship and Mental Health”. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 39:3, 279-281, DOI: 10.1080/01612840.2018.1431444
- “Friendship and mental health”. Mental Health Foundation. N.d. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/f/friendship-and-mental-health
- Mayo Clinic Staff (2019). “Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health”. Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle: Adult health.
- Miller A (2014). “Friends wanted”. American Psychological Association. 45:1, 54.
- Xiao Z, Li J, Zhou G (2018). “Do common interests of students play a role in friendship?”. Procedia Computer Science. 131, 733-738, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2018.04.318.