It might be that each friend comes with his or her own litmus test, that you can only be conscious of after the fact. Kind of beats the purpose of a litmus test as well as the original intent of this post. I seem to have changed my stance amidst typing the introductory sentence.
Instead, I’ll say that there isn’t one set of things that make up a litmus test for all true friends, but some things I’ve noticed with individual good friends over the years include the following:
Weather isn’t boring
“How’s the weather” is usually a surefire notification that your conversation is either empty or headed towards it. But with a friend, it’s part of felt conversation and comes up all the time. Simply put, weather between friends is a pretty active topic.
Silence is okay
Gaps of silence are good indicators of good friendship. Awkward and unbearable in all other instances, with a true friend they say something about not feeling compelled to chatter continuously. In these moments, there is no discomfort in silence, and the interims in conversation flow as naturally as the words do.
You aren’t being judged
There was a Friends episode where Ross meets a girl he’s about to start dating. Rachel is pregnant and feels bad about Ross going out with someone else. She doesn’t want to get back together with him, but she also doesn’t want him to see anyone else, and she wants him at her “constant beck and call.” He agrees, to which she’s taken aback saying: “But….I’m being so unreasonable!”
This quote by Jim Morrison I read today sums it up even better:
“Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself—and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to—letting a person be what he really is.”
A great friend—and even greater person—will let you be calm in one moment, completely lose your composure in the next, be fragile in the next, be ailing in the next—all without losing sight of who you really are.