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Finding a true, lasting friendship can feel rare and special. As an author focusing on lifestyle topics for a young adult audience, I often get asked about the secrets behind maintaining strong bonds with best friends. After reflecting on my own close friendships as well as researching this communal topic, I’ve come up with 12 key, unbreakable rules that help define the healthiest friendships.
Trust and honesty serve as the foundation. Best friends must be able to open up to one another without fear of judgement. That means showing emotional vulnerability and admitting mistakes. Honesty builds trust between friends.
Make a genuine effort to understand them. It’s easy to make assumptions about others, but best friends take the time to truly understand each other’s backgrounds, personalities,goals and insecurities. They don’t pretend to “get” each other.
Allow each other space to change and grow. As a teenager and young adult, interests, goals and even personalities tend to shift frequently. Best friends embrace growth in one another, giving space for self-discovery.
Laugh often…and heartily! Inside jokes, funny memories and contagious laughter get shared frequently between the closest of friends. Humor and playfulness serve as bonding forces.
Prioritize Quality Time Together
Life often feels busy and hectic with school, work, family life and technology pulling focus. But best friends make spending meaningful time together a top priority.
Quality matters more than quantity when nurturing a close friendship. An afternoon shopping or two hours catching up over coffee carry more weight than dozens of text exchanges. Dedicating real pockets of time to engaging in shared interests or having thoughtful conversations makes bonds grow stronger.
Lend An Ear…And Stay Present
Connecting meaningfully means offering full presence and engaged listening. Refraining from checking phones or letting the mind drift when together demonstrates care for one another.
Best friends also depend on each other during tough times for empathetic ears. Rather than offering unsolicited advice, listening patiently and asking thoughtful questions provide comfort.
“A good friend is a connection to life — a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.” –Lois Wyse
Show Up For Each Other
Particularly during transitional times, like heading off to university or starting a new job, best friends consistently make efforts to stay present in each other’s lives. They celebrate successes, offer reassurance when nervous, and check in often.
Teasing playfully often occurs between close friends. But best friends know where to draw lines, avoiding overly harsh criticism. Respect means upholding one another’s boundaries and reasonable wishes. It also involves defending each other when unfairly judged by others.
Miscommunications and disagreements inevitably occur. But holding grudges erodes bonds between even the closest of friends. Brene Brown’s research shows that best friends authentically apologize after hurts and practice forgiveness to preserve intimacy. Blaming each other proves corrosive over time.
Cheer Each Other On
Best friends feel genuinely happy for one another’s accomplishments and successes. Whether it’s encouragement to keep going on a long run or hearty congratulations over a promotion at work, best friends lean on one another as nourishing sources of support.
Lift Each Other Up
Everyone experiences moments of self-doubt or low confidence. Best friends act as natural emotional boosters for each other — not engaging in toxic positivity but instead gently encouraging growth mindsets. “You’ve so got this!” gets uttered organically.
Accept Imperfections…In Both Yourself and Friends
Striving for perfection — in appearance, talents or behavior — drains mental health and strains even close bonds. Part of lifelong friendship means embracing each other’s messiness, quirks and imperfections with warmth. And it also means letting go of unattainable standards for how everyone should act as a “perfect” friend.
Share In Each Other’s Interests
Best friends express curiosity about understanding why activities or topics matter deeply to one another. Maybe it’s finally binge watching a show they love or reading a book series they can’t get enough of. Shared interests weave friends’ lives together.
“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” – Linda Grayson
Remain Reliable Through Thick and Thin
When tough times hit, best friends can count on each other for steadfast emotional or practical support. Showing up dependably during crises or major life changes helps cement bonds for years. And even when physically distant, checking in consistently through calls or texts nurtures intimacy.
Close friendships that stand the test of time and changing life seasons clearly matter immensely. Following these 12 unbreakable rules guide and strengthen bonds so both individuals feel securely connected. Simple ingredients like trust, understanding and forgiveness combine to create those extra special relationships that feel akin to family.
What other “musts” would you add to this list of friendship non-negotiables? I welcome any ideas or reflections since nurturing community represents a key ingredient to well-being and happiness. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!