Friendship is unpredictable. Sometimes you connect with someone the moment they share their sparkly orange crayon with you in playgroup and never look back, and sometimes you can know someone for years before you begin to uncover their unmatched ability to quote Gilmore Girls or their biting sense of humour.
And sometimes we're wrong. Sometimes we offer our unwavering loyalty and the rawest parts of ourselves only to realise that these people aren't the ones after all; sometimes we can only recognise a one-sided friendship in hindsight.
But once you've truly found "the ones," you realise just how lucky you are. Here's how to know that your friends are in it for life.
1. They are happy for you when something goes well.
If your friends downplay your accomplishments or their congratulations sound hollow, they might not be the friends you need right now. Your best friends should be at your door with Champagne, unable to suppress their wide grins as you tell them about getting that promotion you had been gunning for. They should certainly not view you as competition.
2. They are more than comfortable wearing their underwear around you.
There does need to be some allowance for the good old British stiff upper lip here, but do you really want friends who won't let you watch TV in a vest and knickers? The news is harrowing enough without the added pressure on your waistband.
3. They forgive you when you lash out.
And you might. You might take every recent missed train, bout of food poisoning, strained phone call with your brother, or deeply ingrained self-esteem issue out on your unsuspecting friend as she sits blinking at you, a crisp hovering midair, wondering what she did to deserve this rude interruption from The Great British Bake Off.
4. They know your birthday is a BIG deal.
If your friends are the ones, they will see right through that eye-fluttering chime of innocuous "No, I don't need anything special; let's just ignore my birthday this year" nonsense. They will celebrate your birthday whether you say you want to or not.
5. They tell you when you're being an idiot.
Seriously. If your friends never call you out for being catty, or resentful, or childish, or totally wrong about that couple because they are not compatible at all (just rewatch season two), they aren't being themselves with you and they aren't holding you accountable.
6. They tell you when your outfit isn't working.
Sometimes you need someone to tell you: "Stop, OK? Let's switch the top because that doesn't match at all. What is going on with the fringe here? Where did you even buy this? OK, there, that's gorgeous. So much better."
7. They know how to cheer you up.
When I'm upset I like to be clad in an oversized white duvet so that I resemble a dejected marshmallow, collapsed in someone's reassuring arms, beside an enormous bowl of ice cream. I recognise that these are not everyone's preferences; some people prefer to be alone when they are grieving, down, or broken. Your friends should respect your preferences whatever they may be.
8. They stand in solidarity against your enemies.
Yes, this absolutely includes that guy from the supermarket who gave you a dirty look that one time.
9. They know your whole family tree, and your first kiss.
And they know that kid who cut your hair in year one like some kind of demon barber. Real friends listen, and they remember. More than likely your friends know your family personally and text your mum with some frequency, but if they don't, they certainly know their names, ages, and a handful of stories about them.
10. They cover for you.
This could apply to anything from going along with a lie seamlessly and without rehearsal to looking for your lost cat at a moment's notice.
11. They go out of their way to be there for you.
Friendship, similar to romantic love, requires an element of sacrifice. If your friends are willing to be woken from a deep sleep to hear your news, to go out of their usual route to pick up soup for you when you're sick, to spring for plane tickets when you move away, to text you about those concert tickets they themselves have no interest in, to proofread your CV, and to physically bar you from getting an impulsive infinity tattoo? You're doing OK.