If you're very lucky, you have that one particular friend who you always turn to in tough times, whether "rough" means a tiny mini-drama like dropping your phone in the toilet, or an actual, serious road bump in your life. They're the Jennifer Lawrence to your Liam Hemsworth, the Leslie Knope to your Anne Perkins. They are there for you no matter what, and they know just what to say when you text them nonsense at 3AM even if you're not sure what you're saying. There is something unique that happens between friends who experience hard times together. It's like the challenge—and overcoming it—forges a different kind of bond between you, one that is stronger and deeper than any friendship between people who have only ever gone through easy, fun stuff together.
Sometimes they happen when you've already been friends with someone for years, and sometimes they come at the very beginning of a new friendship, but for most people, there will inevitably be unexpected moments in your life when you or your friend (or both of you together) will go through a rocky time. It could be illness, or a breakup, or that period time after college when it seems like the disappointments and stresses can pile up so quickly that you barely have time lift your head up off the ground before you get knocked down again. I've been through some incredibly challenging times, and as much as I never wanted to drag my friends down when I was, I undoubtedly became closer to the friends who stuck by me—and who could relate to what I was experiencing because of their own struggles. After sharing a tough time together, here are the ways that your friendship will get stronger:
You know when they are about to fall apart before they do
And they can sense when you're on the verge, too. With other friends, you can put on a chipper face and they might not question you when you say that everything's fine, but the friend who has endured the worst with you can see past even your best front—and you can see through theirs. You're there for each other before anyone else knows something is wrong.
You never judge each other
You have seen each other in your weakest moments already. Once your friendship has survived you snot-crying into someone's shoulder for an hour, it can survive pretty much anything.
You know just what the other is capable of
You climbed out of the hole you were in together, so there's never any doubt about just how much you're both capable of. No other friend knows just how strong you are. The same way you have seen each other at your weakest, you have seen each other at your most powerful, when you defied whatever odds you were up against. When one of you tells the other one that they can do something, it's not just a hollow pep talk. It's coming from someone who has watched you rise to the hardest occasion, giving them completely valid confidence that you can do more than anyone else would imagine.
You appreciate the good times so much more
They say that we need bad times to be able to enjoy the good ones, and that especially goes for someone who understands exactly what the bad times were like. Nobody will celebrate your triumphant, joyful moments quite as enthusiastically as a friend who was there when you were hitting rock bottom.
You have the best inside jokes
Is there anything more friendship-cementing than an inside joke? And yours are particularly awesome; Not only gotten through a rough time together, but you have moved past it enough to see the humor in it.
You can tell each other just about anything
With all your other friends, you have to feel them out a little bit before you decide whether or not telling them something personal. You never know which parts of your life will sound like over-sharing or freak them out a little, but with a friend you've already shared super hard times with, you know that they'll be the last one to judge you. Having a friend you can be that unabashedly open with is irreplaceable.
Their advice means so much more than other people's advice
It's not that other people give bad advice, or that their advice is invalid. But your friend who has seen and experienced exactly what you've overcome in your life is the one who will be able to put your problems in perspective—and help find meaningful solutions to them—with greater clarity than anyone else.
When your friend triumphs, you feel triumphant, too
You know how with some of your friends you're like, "I'm so happy for you!!" when secretly in your bitter little heart, you are a smidge jealous of them? Or if you're not jealous, maybe you just, like, don't really care that much? (Yes, I know, we're all terrible people. Let's accept it and move on.) This doesn't happen with friends you've been through actual hard stuff with. After coming back from something truly difficult, whenever one of you succeeds at anything, the happiness is so genuine. You'll always share their victories as wholeheartedly as they will share yours.
You can call each other any day, any time, no matter what
The thing that is perhaps most special about friends who have weathered hard times together: It doesn't matter if a a month has passed, or a year, or five years. Rain or shine, you could call them right now and immediately pick up right where you left off. These kinds of friendships are a fixture in your life more permanent than anything.