The Guided Friendship
There is no such thing as friendship boot camp, but a great friend takes a lot of effort. There is more to being a best friend than just being around. Real friends are there whether you think you need them or not. They support you in life's most unexpected and trying times. I had a friend who I supported through a very trying time, a rough ex-spouse who just kept dragging them back to court, a child just entering into teenage hood. While they were dealing with open wounds even many years latter I made sure to stay around, cook meals for reheating, gave advice on having a daughter. Nothing huge, but I worked hard at making my schedule open to helping a very close friend when they needed it most. A lesson, not so funnily learned on my part, was that when I went through something equally life changing and stressful they pulled back and let it be known I was as good a friend as was available to help them.
The more I talked to friends about this situation, the death kneel of friendship is hard, almost everyone had a story similar to mine. We have all experienced a fake friend, somebody along for something easy and supportive for them but shallow and easy towards anybody else.
Do small things to bring happiness to your friends
Don't pretend to be engaged and interested if you aren't, honesty
What you should expect from a good friend:
Keeping up with changes in your life
Supporting your decisions, good or bad for them
There are so many downfalls we read about daily within the social media age but there are many positives as well. Distance is not a barrier to maintaining strong bonds. We can write the occasional letter by hand or post photos of our lives online. All these things are good but we should not loose sight of the power of our human, in-person connections. I know plenty of people who haven't seen friends in ten plus years and always regret not flying or driving to see each other.
Put the time in but make sure they are too. We shouldn't be giving any more than we're taking. The guided friendship is one where both sides to the friendship equation are equally valued. We learn through doing and being and guiding our friendships is no different. In a time when we have more connections than ever but fewer relationships being mindful and aware of how we conduct our friendships, both in receiving and giving, is vital to a vividly and well lived life.