Over the years I’ve collected a good amount of friends. I’m fairly introverted, but once people get past my resting bitch face, I think they find me to be moderately agreeable. (Or not, whatever. Like I said, I’m an introvert.)
I quickly learned though, that 36 nights (and days) of consecutive college drinking does not make a friend. While I cherish those memories, they have endured quite longer than the friendships themselves. Whether I was exclusively drinking with buddies, or actually engaging in what seemed like significant time together, neither situation was guaranteed to survive the test of time; the setting or sobriety level didn’t make a difference. School, jobs, gym, single, attached, drunk or sober. Some just wouldn’t stick.
I thought I was connecting with these men and women on a deeper level. All those hours logged still weren’t enough to transport us into friends for lyfe territory. So what gives?
Yesterday I talked to my best friend 12 times on the phone. Excessive? Definitely. But besides taking up a lot of my day and annoying my husband, it got me thinking about what makes a best friend…
1. You talk on the phone. (as mentioned)
My BFF and I text a lot, but we also talk on the phone with regularity. I’m not saying you have to chat every day, but you need someone that you can call and not apologize for doing so.
2. You talk about everything.
Poop and God. Politics and that weird rash. Sex and your favorite TV shows. All of it. Nothing is off limits. Disclosure breeds intimacy, without it your friendship is going to stay in the shallow end of the pool. That’s because how are you supposed to feel close to someone if you barely know anything about them. And I’m not just talking about their drink order or Twitter handle.
Start talking about things that matter and everything that doesn’t, or your friendship won’t endure past the circumstance that it began in.
3. You might not agree on everything.
If you surround yourself with likeminded people, you won’t grow. My best friend is a conservative Republican, and I’m not. You know what she’s taught me? That she’s not an asshole. Before I met her, I had a nice little catch all for people who didn’t share my beliefs. And I was wrong about a lot of them.
How embarrassing for me to go through life with such a superiority and an unwillingness to engage with people unlike me. Very hypocritical considering the whole liberal Kumbaya shtick I’ve got going on.
Step outside your comfort zone and befriend people who differ in race, religion, sexuality, political party, socioeconomic status and musical preference. You and your iTunes library will be better for it. You’ll also be more credible in internet fights.
4. They challenge you. They inspire you.
They want what’s best for you. Tina isn’t a good friend if she stands by idly as you make bad decisions. Good pals ask when you’re finishing school and remind you of your goals for the future when you’ve forgotten that you had any.
Be friends with someone who makes you hustle. Surround yourself with people who are living life in a way that makes you want to be better.
5. You keep a burn book, for them.
I like my friends to be a good blend of reasonable and insane. If someone did me wrong, I don’t need you trying to be the devil’s advocate. Stop figuring out a logical explanation for their behavior, besides them being pure evil. Yes, please keep me from doing anything that will land me in jail. But I need you to commit to hating them for an appropriate window of time.
You don’t have to go all mean girl on them, but your alliance should be clear.
There’s a guy who scorned my bestie a decade ago and I’d still swerve to hit him on the sidewalk. #RideOrLiterallyDie
6. You talk them down from the ledge.
Loyalty is important, but honesty is pretty big too. Find a friend who isn’t afraid of ruffling your feathers. “Yes men” are easier to come by, they don’t really care about what’s best for you or they’re scared to disagree with you. Be suspect of the person who gives your craziest ideas a green light.
This looks a lot like someone telling you that your ex definitely still loves you and you should call them, even though you just saw them out with someone else.
99% of your friends from college probably fall into this category, and it makes sense, because actually helping you through your situation would take up time and make you 15 minutes late to the bar.
7. You don’t keep track of finances.
A good friend doesn’t take advantage of you, so you don’t need to. A strong friendship is reciprocal. You help them, they help you. So if you cover Starbucks on Tuesday, they’ve got your first round Friday. You do what you can, when you can and you don’t remind each other of your good deeds. You do things for one another out of the kindness of your heart, not the need for a pat on the back.
If your pal is habitually forgetting her wallet at home or doesn’t reach for her AMEX when the bill comes, goodbye.
8. You show up for each other.
Weddings, showers, birthdays. Goes without saying.
You understand when they can’t be there, but true friends don’t make it a habit of not being present for your unforgettable moments.
More importantly than that, go through your list of friends and think about what their reaction would be if you would call them spur of the moment and express a true need. Would they drop everything and show up for you? If they couldn’t show up and physically be present, would they try to help in whatever way they could?
A very good friend of mine sent lunch after the birth of our daughter. She was across the state, but demonstrated that she was there for me despite geographical limitations. That type of thoughtfulness cannot be substituted.
The best friendships are not defined by convenience.
9. You get jealous.
Good friends are hard to come by, that’s why you take issue when someone else starts referring to yours as theirs. New girls start coming around and act like they know your friend. I’m sorry, but a few hangouts based on proximity does not make a best friend. If you haven’t stalked at LEAST 3 people for my girl, you need to cool it. I’ve been here since day 1. So you can post all the pictures you want, but take it easy on the BFF captions.
10. You can do nothing.
Errands. Couch sitting. Silence. Real homies don’t need an event to kick it.
11. You ask questions.
If you’ve ever spent a lot of time with someone, but can’t figure out why you don’t feel connected to them, think about your interaction with them. Do they ask you questions? They don’t? Huh, let me save you from reading one more long paragraph and sum this up for you: people who don’t ask you questions about yourself and your life DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. They are self centered. Move on and take your high quality friendship with you.
(Also be wary of people who ask you a lot of questions, but don’t let you finish or quickly redirect the conversation back to themselves… that’s a narcissist trying desperately to function as a normal human, and failing.)
12. You KNOW them.
Hence the questions. True friends pay attention to the details. They don’t panic when they have to get you a gift because they have a firm understanding of who you are, even if you’re made up entirely of lattes and glitter. They’d know what shade of nail polish you need next.
Or in my case a grey T shirt. If someone buys me anything in color, besides flannel, they’ve identified themselves as a fake friend.
13. You support one another.
Friend and cheerleader should be synonymous. People of true integrity support one another. If your pal is reluctant to sing your praises, or talk about your accomplishments, move along. We need women who support women, NOT women who only support women that aren’t a threat to them.
14. You are the keeper of secrets, the collector of memories.
We’ve arrived at the quintessential BFF trait. They are a human vault. Your good, your bad, your most shameful… they know it all. If something happens, you call them. You have zero reservations about confiding in them, because you have enough dirt on them to destroy their lives and they wouldn’t think twice.
Taylor Swift has this super crew of women in her life, but more importantly than taking a lot of pictures with a team of models, is being there for things other than photo opportunities.
Next time you’re hanging with a friend, go through this list and take a mental inventory. This is #SquadGoals, don’t settle for less.
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