Together for life? 4 compelling signs of a friendship that’s built to last

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On-screen, true friendship is often depicted in high-octane brushstrokes; in the bar-hopping, Manolo-clad world of Manhattan, say, or via a crazy, cliff-jumping road trip. The truth, however, is rather more prosaic. 

When thinking of a friendship “keeper” – the platonic version of the reliable partner your nan always urged you to find – the image is perhaps less sunset and cocktails, and more… a study pair of wellington boots. You know: the kind you can wear in any weather, will always be there and are so darn comfy to wear. 

One sign of a deeper connection is you don’t sweat the small stuff

There’s nothing especially glamorous about this form of friendship. It’s certainly not the type of glossy material that would come bothering a Netflix producer. But at the same time, it’s strong and steady; the friendship that is there, not for a reason or season, but for life. 

So how can you tell when you’re lucky enough to have this person in your sphere? Here are a few giveaway signs:

Assuming the best of each other

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One sign of a deeper friendship is you two don’t sweat the small stuff. If one of you forgets to send a birthday card, turns up late or calls three evenings in a row in drunken tears – it’s no big deal. You take one another’s quirks and niggles into your stride. 

It’s a mindset that goes hand-in-hand with not taking offence, too. If you do have to cancel an evening together last-minute, you’re not going to assume your friend is flaky or can’t be bothered. The same goes for radio silence on WhatsApp, or not being able to be there as much as you’d like when one of you is going through a crisis. 

At its core, this quality speaks to a certain generosity of spirit, and of mutual faith. You know you love each other, and have one another’s backs. Your friendship is so rock-solid, it doesn’t get knocked off course by the bumps that life inevitably throws in along the way. 

Being an outspoken champion

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You know when you’re really frustrated about someone or something, and you just want to rant? A deep friendship will allow room for that venting – without trying to offer solutions, or providing a more balanced outlook. 

This means echoing your friend’s sense of injustice, and being outraged for them – even if you know deep down that it’s not entirely rational – just because it makes them feel better. You’re jumping in, right alongside them, to empathise and share the weight of their perspective. 

A lasting friend will be the first person to shout about your success

Obviously, this doesn’t discount telling hard truths if and when you need to. But in the first instance, a for-life friend will hop right into the “I’m angry for you” position. On the flip side, they’ll also be the first person to celebrate your successes; sending you flowers for that promotion or shouting from the rooftops when you take the plunge and decide to live abroad for a bit (even while they’re secretly distraught at the idea of you going away).

Providing a safe harbour 

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It’s a cliché but it’s true: lasting friendship is the proverbial harbour in stormy seas. It’s a place you can both go to dock amid the rough waves of life, and offload your baggage – secure in the knowledge that it will be closely protected. 

What this means in non-metaphor terms is that you can both be vulnerable without fear of judgement. What happens in a true friendship, stays in a true friendship and there is no topic off-limits; no worry too big or strange to share. 

Between the two of you, you have absolute trust that you can not only talk about any and all aspects of your life; but also that said chat will never travel further. Like the everyday equivalent of a therapy session, your friendship provides a safe space to share whatever you want. 

Being OK with arguments

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Last but not least, a lasting friendship makes room for arguments enroute – even the more gnarly ones that leave you both fuming or in tears. Like any relationship, however, the tenor of these rows matters. If you find yourselves routinely hurling insults at one another, or are left feeling bullied or belittled, that’s an obvious cue to step away. 

If your friendship is robust enough, you’ll be able to lean into any tension

But if you can air your grievances and then hear each other out, apologise and move on; that’s the golden standard. Because it’s so easy for friendships, when they hit a wall or a point of conflict, to drift away into passive aggression and distance. A fear of confrontation means nothing is explicitly said, but you both end up taking a step back and seeing each other less. 

If your friendship is robust enough, however, you’ll be able to lean into those tensions without letting them fester. And that is a superpower indeed. 

Flash Pack is a group travel company that specialises in small group adventures for solo travellers in their 30s and 40s. Find out more about how we work, and our mission to build a global community of friendships

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