A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

The 14 Secrets to Making Friendships Really Last Forever, According to Lifelong Friends

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.

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Honesty is always the best policy

Heather Hopkins credits her decades-long best friendship (and that’s saying a lot because she’s only in her 30s) 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?”

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Always assume the best and never lean into a negative presumption

“Assume that everything they do is with good intentions, even when that assumption seems unreal” explains Yael Lustmann, a mom in her 40s who has managed to make her best friendship last for around 30 years (and counting!). 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. Here are eight more types of friends every woman should have.

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See the other person’s differences as a way to balance your own personality

“It helps that we both evolved and became educated over the 21 years of being friends since Auburn University,” shares Max Zaslavsky, a dentist living in Florida. “On paper, my best friend being 6’1,” African American, and from Birmingham, Alabama has nothing in common with a 5’5″ Jewish guy from Brooklyn, but we accept our personality differences as things that balance us out. He is the only person allowed to call my mom ‘Ma’ besides me. When my parents almost died in a car accident in 1998, he and his now ex-wife rushed down to be with me and help take care of my folks who were both in different hospitals. When I graduated dental school in 2004, he flew down from Boston and got my 83-year old father, who was battling cancer, in and out of a wheelchair so he could see me walk.”

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Connect over spreading goodness

When Liesa Goins’ childhood friend passed away early in college, 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 our freshman year in college. Every year since then we have awarded a scholarship in her name. It’s a way for us to memorialize 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.” Here are the science-backed reasons why these kinds of friendships are so healthy for us.

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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 states.” Reaching out to friends is one of the best ways to overcome the friendship recession.

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Don’t pretend, real life isn’t like Facebook at all

“The trick is to not pretend and just be you,” tells Chetna Singh, MD, of her 26-year friendships with her medical school buddies. “Share your joys and your sorrows. Laugh together and be there for each other. Nobody’s life is Facebook-perfect.”

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Sometimes one party forgets to be present, but that’s OK

“My best friend Helen are 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.” Find out 24 little ways to be a better friend today.

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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 elementary school by an ongoing group text,” says Lauren Schwartz Gamsey. “We are seven busy working moms across seven cities 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.”

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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 a bagel brunch or a pizza dinner. The host helps organize 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.”

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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 longtime 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!”

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Identify your bond, even it was from ages ago

“Somehow, amidst the chaos of labor and delivery, my mom and her mom befriended one another in the maternity ward,” tells writer Abbie Kozolchyk of her decades-long friendship affair with Catalan Conlon. “So we—the fruits of their labors—have been friends from birth: I was born October 8th of 1969, and she was born on the 9th. We’ve since traveled 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.”

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Don’t be afraid to put the work in so you can kick back and let the good times roll

Real friendship is an ongoing, never ending work in progress, and that’s something Stacy Goldstein 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 its been. Our favorite 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.”

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Let disagreements be buried by the sands of time

“Take none of the falling-outs and arguments seriously. As lifetime friends, you always recover,” explains Bonnie Gleicher of her friends-for-life policy. Her are 19 quotes about forgiveness that will make you set aside those grudges.

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Just be a good listener

“My best friend in the world is from freshman year in college,” 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.”

Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber is an expert in gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.