8 Signs Your Friendship Is Strong And Will Last

Is your friend positive and supportive? Those are signs that your friendship will go the distance.
Not all friendships last for the long haul, but those that do share many common features.
SolStock via Getty Images
Not all friendships last for the long haul, but those that do share many common features.

I have friends from high school and college I don’t see often because we live in different cities. Sometimes we’ll go long stretches without communicating ― other than replying to each other’s Instagram stories or sending funny memes here and there.

But when we do finally get the chance to FaceTime or meet up in person, it feels like no time has passed, and we easily pick up where we left off. There’s a comfort and reliability to that kind of rapport, no matter how our lives evolve.

Of course, not all friendships last for the long haul. But those that do share many common features.

Below, experts share the signs of a friendship that has staying power.

You celebrate each other’s successes.

“A very important sign of a good friend is the one who is there to help you celebrate your successes,” said Glenda Shaw, author of “Better You, Better Friends.”

This can be hard for people sometimes, especially if they aren’t feeling very accomplished in their lives, Shaw noted. They may wonder, “Why isn’t this happening to me?”

“The friends who are able to overcome any incipient envy and bring forth some heartfelt excitement for your success ― your golden award, your just-published book, your new house or spouse ― are joining you in an important moment in your life,” Shaw said. “They’re letting you know that your friendship matters to them.”

Clinical psychologist and friendship expert Irene S. Levine pointed out that good friends root for each other’s success in all things, even when it’s difficult.

“You’re cheerleaders for each other rather than competitors,” Levine said.

There’s reciprocity.

“A good friendship feels reciprocal with give and take on both sides,” Levine said.

Of course, relationships can’t be perfectly equal at all times, but things should balance out in the long term, with both people putting in effort and showing interest.

“Giving and receiving support during vulnerable times is really important for a healthy friendship,” said psychologist and friendship expert Marisa G. Franco. “There’s reciprocal vulnerability. If only one person is being vulnerable over the span of the friendship, it can be more of a dependency than a friendship. Friendship is reciprocal by nature, so there should be giving and receiving support and showing vulnerability.”

Communication is easy.

Communication is paramount in any personal relationship, and a friendship that’s built to last will reflect that.

“There’s an ease of communication,” Levine said. “When conflicts or misunderstandings occur, they are easily and quickly resolved. You ‘get each other’ and just seem to click.”

Shaw emphasised that tense situations are inevitable, but they’ll only strengthen good friendships.

“Intimacy is born from conflict,” Shaw said. “The point isn’t to have friendships without conflict ― the point is how we work through these challenges. And when you talk over a challenging situation or circumstance with a friend, remember to listen to their point of view, to offer your feedback generously, and, most importantly, to be willing to adjust your own behavior. This is how our relationships can grow and thrive.”

One thing that can make friendships particularly effortless and long-lasting is sharing common interests, but it's also important to respect a friend's choices and lifestyle when it differs from ours.
The Good Brigade via Getty Images
One thing that can make friendships particularly effortless and long-lasting is sharing common interests, but it's also important to respect a friend's choices and lifestyle when it differs from ours.

You respect each other’s decisions.

“Even if your values differ, you respect each other’s judgment and way of thinking,” Levine said.

Franco defined this aspect of the relationship as “identify affirmation.”

“Identity affirmation is a green flag in a friendship,” Franco said. “That’s when your friend doesn’t try to impose their values or ways of living onto you.”

Franco gave the example of a friend who announces that she wants to quit her job and move to Mexico.

“Even though I’m like, ‘I wouldn’t do that, I value stability,’ I wouldn’t stop my friend from doing that because I affirm their identity,” she explained. “If you’re low in identity affirmation, then you would impose those standards onto a friend and say ‘I don’t think you should do that. I think you’re making a dumb decision.’”

You can rely on their support.

A fundamental part of friendship is being able to depend on each other for support when needed.

“It is always a good sign in a friendship when a person truly shows up for you when you are mentally or physically vulnerable,” Shaw said. “Think about the people who stay in contact with you when you’re sick, who call to check on you and who deliver nourishing food so that you don’t have to cook.”

The pandemic has led to countless stories of support from friends helping people get through difficult experiences, Shaw said. Showing up makes a difference, and doing it consistently lets your friend know that you can rely on each other.

“This is about the people who stay the course whenever you’re going through a tough time,” Shaw added. “In one research study of 3,000 women with breast cancer, it was shown that these women were most likely to survive this disease if they had close friends to rely on during the course of their illness.”

You have common interests.

One thing that can make friendships particularly effortless and long-lasting is sharing common interests.

“This might include work interests, hobbies, being mothers, being single, etc.” Levine said. She added that those points of overlap can also be matters of convenience.

“Perhaps you live in the same neighbourhood and can do errands together and help each other out in a pinch,” Levine said. “Your time schedules are in sync. For example, a mother with young children will have far less time for friendship than a single friend.”

The relationship can evolve.

Being aligned in terms of location, interests or life circumstances can strengthen friendships. But of course, there are plenty of strong relationships between people who aren’t as in sync.

A sign of a good friendship is one that can evolve as you and the other person change and grow. Becoming single again, moving away, having kids and other big transitions will inevitably affect your friendship in some way. But if it’s meant to last, you’ll be able to catch up and fall back into that easy communication when you reunite.

“The friendship is forgiving and allows for changes, which may even include not speaking or seeing each other for some time,” Levine said.

There’s vulnerability.

“A non-negotiable factor that determines the health and depth of every relationship is vulnerability,” said friendship expert and author Shasta Nelson.

Vulnerability involves sharing in a way that “leaves us feeling known,” Nelson said. There’s a lot of risk and reward in vulnerable moments.

“One of the best signs in a friendship is when, as an act of love, a friend takes the risk of telling you something that they know might hurt you,” Shaw said. “One time I couldn’t go out partying with friends, and my then-beau hit on a good friend of mine. The next day, she came to see me, and she gently told me what had happened. It was as difficult for her to tell me this as it was for me to hear it ― but she knew that I needed to hear it. And I did!”

While the romantic relationship ended, Shaw and that friend remain close to this day.

“If you select friends you can trust, then they will look out for your best interests,” she said.