The prominent poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “When friendships are real, they are not glass threads or frost work, but the solidest things we can know.”
I’m sure we can all agree that one of the greatest pleasures in life is friendship. Yet, in today’s fast-paced lifestyle where sometimes it’s about what you have and who you know, it can be tricky to find real friends.
You might have a hundred so-called friends, but still feel very much alone when you need support the most.
So how can you determine whether someone is fair-weather or forever? If someone does these 10 things, they value deep connections over surface-level friendships.
1) You pick up right where you left off
Everyone has things they need to do and it can keep one busy, pretty much all the time.
Because of this, it’s not hard to go long stretches without talking to a friend. But when you finally do get to talk to each other, it feels like no time has passed.
Let me expound using my own personal experience.
When I was much younger, I thought the mark of real friendship was talking all the time and not getting sick of each other.
That’s why when I was in elementary all through high school, my childhood best friend and I would call each other’s houses right after spending the entire day at school. Even when we weren’t saying anything, we’d stay on the phone.
Fast forward to the present: she now lives a continent away and needless to say, the endless phone calls had stopped years ago.
We’re now occupied with our respective lives: our jobs, our partners, our families, and our activities. We can go months without talking.
But either of us can send the other a text one day and talk as if we had been talking the whole time.
The same goes for my closest friends in the same time zone as myself. It’s normal for us to go silent for weeks but still feel as close as ever.
So if you have someone in your life with whom you feel this way, they value deep connections over surface-level friendships.
2) They’re there for your wins in life
Who do you call when you land your dream job? When you get engaged? When you learn that you’re expecting a child?
Whatever the occasion, your closest friends will always make the cut for the list of people you choose to share the news with.
When someone is able to be genuinely happy for your good fortune, they value deep connections over surface-level friendships.
No matter what’s happening in their own lives, a true friend will find it in themselves to share in the joy, and not feel resentful or envious.
3) They give as much as they take
The key concept for this point is reciprocity.
Friendship and belonging expert, Dr. Marisa G. Franco, (also a New York Times bestselling author, TED speaker, psychologist and professor) says that “reciprocal vulnerability” is “important for a healthy friendship.”
Without it, the relationship is less a friendship than a dependency.
As a side note, co-dependency is a condition where one person forms one-sided, emotionally destructive relationships.
These often develop as a result of coming from a dysfunctional family, where members experience fear, anger, pain, or shame, all of which go unacknowledged or denied.
Co-dependent people look for validation outside themselves and turn to things such as alcohol, drugs or sex to feel better.
Franco adds: “Friendship is reciprocal by nature, so there should be giving and receiving support and showing vulnerability.”
That makes sense, doesn’t it? In true friends we find solace when we feel sad or angry. Personally, I can’t count how many times I’ve cried on a friend’s shoulder over a breakup.
In the same way, my closest friends come to me when they’re feeling overwhelmed or upset. To this day, we still reach out to each other when we need to vent.
If someone you know shows that they reciprocate your generosity, they value deep connections over surface-level friendships.
4) They support you when it matters
The great thing about having friends is having people who are there for you when you need them the most.
As the adage goes, “No man is an island, entire of itself.”
Who are the people in your life who listen to you when you’re experiencing a difficult time? Who checks on you even for no reason at all? Who makes their presence in your life felt?
Who are those people that are there even when you’re not going through a rough patch? Who gives their support by cheering you on in your endeavors?
Whether you’re starting a new business, interviewing for a job, auditioning for a role, or even beginning a new chapter as a new parent, true friends will be there for you.
True friends will be there even through sickness, and you will be all the better for it. In fact, a research study done on women with breast cancer found that those with closer social connections were less likely to have a recurrence or die from the disease.
If someone shows up for you, then they value deep connections over surface-level friendships.
5) You share common ground
This might seem like an obvious thing, but you have a better chance at developing deep connections with people with whom you share common interests.
Based on personal experience, sharing common ground paves the way for meatier conversations and stronger connections.
For instance, I am married and a mother. My childhood best friend is both single and childless and wants things to stay that way.
Although we have a trove of memories and shared experiences, she cannot fully understand what it is to be a mother, to be responsible for another human being.
Meanwhile, my other close friends are mothers, too. It is with them that I can talk about things such as parenting issues and childcare.
They understand this aspect of my life because they also bear the mental load of being a mom; they’re in the thick of it everyday just as I am.
The same goes for people sharing a profession or a hobby, whether that’s sports, crafts, or other recreational activities (e.g., hiking, rock-climbing).
6) They respect you
For any relationship to thrive, respect is essential.
No two people are exactly the same (even twins) so it’s only natural that a person’s decision differs from another.
For example, I have a friend who recently migrated to Canada. While I understand her reasons for going in search of greener pastures, it’s not what I’d choose for myself.
Yet, I respect that. I respect her.
What might be right for you might not be right for somebody else. When somebody respects your choices, they value deep connections over surface-level friendships.
7) They accept you for the real you
As human beings, we all have a side of ourselves that we show to the world and a side that we keep hidden, except to a select few we trust.
We try to put our best foot forward in social settings because we want people to see the good things about us.
We tend to conform to how others around us behave. Sometimes though that can get exhausting. It is in real friends that we find the comfort to be our real selves; we can let our guard down.
If someone makes you feel that you can be yourself without being judged, if someone embraces you–warts and all–then they value deep connections over surface-level friendships.
8) They cheer you on
I think we can all agree that life as an adult is hard.
We’ve got so many responsibilities and obligations to fulfill inside and outside of the home. We’re forever trying to find that work-life balance.
It’s no wonder that sometimes we feel burnt out, tired or just lost.
“Is this job really what I want to be doing?”
“Am I going to ever find someone to share my life with?”
“I feel like I don’t have a purpose in life.”
These are just some of the endless questions we’ve heard or asked ourselves at one time or another.
A true friend listens and peps us up. They help us get back on track and find the strength to go on.
Even when you feel you’re all over the place and you don’t know what to do, a good friend will sit there with you, if only to make you feel that you’re not alone.
If someone does this, then they value deep connections over surface-level friendships.
9) They are loyal to you
In a romantic relationship, it’s easy to interchange loyalty with fidelity.
But is that all that loyalty is? Fidelity is part of it, yes, but it’s so much more than that.
This trait, or virtue, rather, shows itself in many ways.
When somebody accepts you and doesn’t desert you the moment things get hard; when somebody proves him/herself to be dependable; or when they are honest and authentic in their ways, they are loyal.
They also show they are loyal when they express their appreciation for you, support you, confide in you, stay true to their word, and treat you well.
When someone is loyal to you, they value deep connections over surface-level friendships.
10) They don’t judge you
Everybody makes mistakes. It’s part of the human condition; we all make mistakes. It’s how we learn.
A true friend makes you feel that you can open up to them and not be judged.
Especially today, when “cancel culture” is so rampant, it’s important that we know our choices are respected, our views on various matters heard, and that we are accepted for who we really are.
When a person decides to hear you out and understand you instead of automatically judging you, they value deep connections over surface-level friendships.
Friendships are necessary to live a full and happy life. But too often, we can’t know immediately if a person can be someone we have a meaningful friendship with.
Through this list, we can determine that if a person does these 10 things, they value deep connections over surface-level friendships.
Worthwhile also to keep in mind is that those who value deep connections over surface-level friendships respond to authentic people. People who are in touch with their emotions and know who and what they truly are.
What helped me in my own journey was world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandé’s masterclass on empowering oneself and breaking away from self-limiting beliefs.
If that sounds like something you feel can benefit you, learn more in this free video.
Hopefully, we become more selective and mindful about the relationships we build and the people we choose to keep in our lives.