14 secrets to make friendships last forever
The deepest, most committed friendships span time, continents, and life experiences. The keys to maintaining those strong friendships often take a lifetime to learn, so we asked some of the longest lasting duos (and trios!) how they’ve managed to make their bonds unbreakable.
Honesty is always the best policy
Heather Hopkins credits her decades-long best friendship to her commitment to honesty. “Never be scared to tell your best friends how you are really feeling about any situation. A true friend will always appreciate and be grateful for honesty, even in the stickiest of situations. If your real friends can’t be honest and truthful, do you think the transients and acquaintances in your life will be?” Read how aligning the way you manage your friendships with your core values makes emotional sense.
Always assume the best and never lean into a negative presum
“Assume that everything they do is with good intentions, even when that assumption seems unreal” explains Yael Lustmann, a mother in her 40s who has managed to make her best friendship last for around 30 years. She adds that laughing off the bad stuff is a big helper, too, and admits that she picked a sort of “wild and crazy guy” to be best friends with. Learn how the power of positivity had a huge impact on one woman’s life.
See the other person’s differences as a way to balance your
“It helps that we both evolved and became educated over the 21 years of being friends since university,” shares Max Zaslavsky, a dentist. “On paper, my best friend has nothing in common with me, but we accept our personality differences as things that balance us out. He is the only person allowed to call my mum ‘Ma’ besides me. When my parents almost died in a car accident in 1998, he and his now ex-wife rushed to be with me and help take care of my folks who were both in different hospitals. When I graduated in dentistry in 2004, he got my 83-year-old father, who was battling cancer, in and out of a wheelchair so he could see me accept my degree.” Friendships come in many forms. Read how Beverley and George became friends through their shared love of painting.
Connect over spreading goodness
When Liesa Goins’ childhood friend passed away early in her 20s, she knew she had to commit to positivity with the rest of her tight-knit friendship circle to make it work, even through tragedy. “I had a group of five super close friends in high school. One died of leukemia in our first year of university. Every year since then we have awarded a scholarship in her name. It’s a way for us to memorialise her and connect at least once a year. And we’re definitely the type of friends who pick up where we left off every time we connect.”
Just keep calling, even if there’s nothing to really say
Nicki Bandklayder’s 20+ year friendships are going strong because she’s always eager to get on the phone. “Pick up the phone just because! You don’t need a reason to call. This is what keeps some of my 20+ year friendships alive and strong. When you start needing a reason to call, you lose that everyday sort of connection. This goes for several of my bridesmaids who are in different parts of the country.” Find yourself lost for words or out of ideas to talk about? Here are six magic phrases that help bring a conversation to life, regardless of how well you know the person.
Don’t pretend, real life isn’t like Facebook at all
“The trick is to not pretend and just be you,” tells Dr Chetna Singh, of her 26-year friendships with her medical school friends. “Share your joys and your sorrows. Laugh together and be there for each other. Nobody’s life is Facebook-perfect.”
Sometimes one party forgets to be present, but that’s OK
“My best friend Helen and I are going on 32 years, and we never call out the other person on being an absentee friend,” shares Angela Randall. “Life happens and when you are in different places and going through different things just pick up where you both are.”
Use technology to your advantage
“It’s said that technology is ruining relationships, but there are few things as nice as being connected with your best friends since primary school by an ongoing group text,” says Lauren Schwartz Gamsey. “We are seven busy working mums living in three states, and we can still share everyday thoughts, big news, and silly stories as if we had never moved away from each other.” Love your long-distance friends but wishing you had a friend that lived closer? Sure, Facebook is a great way to stay on top of what your friends are doing, but boundaries may need to be established. Here’s how to avoid being a turn off on Facebook.
Be realistic and keep it casual
“My four best friends from childhood and I are all married with kids. Restaurant gatherings once we had kids were always a disaster,” tells Stacey Feintuch. “So we decided to switch things up. Now we each host a meal at our home throughout the year. It may be just a brunch or a pizza dinner. The host helps organise the long email chain to choose a date, does the brunt of the work and food prep. But we all bring something to help ease the burden. It ensures that we get together at least four times a year.”
Have coffee together, even if it’s on the phone
Heidi Frederick isn’t bothered by geography when it comes to sharing a cup of coffee with her long-time best friends. “No matter where my BFFs are, we have coffee together as many mornings as we can. All I need is homemade coffee and speakerphone and it’s like we are together!”
Identify your bond, even it was from ages ago
“Somehow, amidst the chaos of labour and delivery, my mother and her mother befriended one another in the maternity ward,” tells writer Abbie Kozolchyk of her decades-long friendship with Catalan Conlon. “So we – the fruits of their labours – have been friends from birth: I was born October, 1969, and she was born on the 9th. We’ve since travelled through life together, sometimes figuratively (seeing each other through marriage and divorce, for example) and sometimes literally (we make a point of taking periodic trips together, especially because we haven’t lived in the same city since we were little kids). We’ve long joked that we’ll be the centenarian ladies chasing after the cute orderlies in the old folks’ home – and I’m not so sure we won’t.”
Don’t be afraid to work at it
Real friendship is an ongoing, never ending work in progress, and that’s something Stacy Lettie knows so well of her 30-plus year friendship. “Friendship takes work and planning, but true friends fall in step with each other no matter how long it’s been. Our favourite tradition is that every New Year’s Eve since 1998 we have gotten the families together. We cook a big fancy meal and stay up half the night playing karaoke or some other silly game. We always have a family sleepover and each year it’s at a different house.” Young children are generally excellent friend-makers. Read about one friendship that broke down all age barriers.
Let disagreements be buried by the sands of time
“Take none of the fallings-out and arguments seriously. As lifetime friends, you always recover,” explains Bonnie Gleicher of her friends-for-life policy.
Just be a good listener
“My best friend in the world is from first year of university,” shares Judy Gropen. “We were instantly friends. She claims that it was because I actually listened to her, and I was blown away by how smart and kind she was and different from anyone I knew.”
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