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Let’s face it, nobody is perfect, not even you.  When it comes to friendships, we need remember patience and effort go a long way.  Your friend might drive you crazy one minute and make you bust out laughing another.  To be sure you are surrounded by your closest friends forever, take a look at these 10 ways to become a better friend.  Some of them might surprise you!

1. Face time. Regardless of how many texts you and your BFF exchange in a day, this form of communication cannot replace face-to-face time. An investment in real time together is an indication that, despite how busy you may be, you still matter to each other. When you need a shoulder to cry on, your cellphone won’t give you a warm hug or take you out for happy hour (if it does, tell me where I can get one!).  Oprah got it right when she talked about her weight battle and said, “I’m putting myself on the list’?”  It’s important that we put our friends on our “list” too.  Girlfriends are often the first thing women drop when life gets hectic.  Don’t let yourself get too busy for your friends.

2. Be her #1 fan. Support your friends in all that they do. Feel happy for her when she succeeds, and pick her up when she hits life’s roadblocks. Always talk well about her and keep her in your thoughts. When you see something that reminds you of her, send her a text to let her know. This will instantly bring a smile to her face.

3. Be there when she needs you the most (whether she asks or not.) Being a friend when times are good is easy, but showing up when her life is sucking is crucial. We know you’re busy, but take a moment to call or show up at her door. The gesture will speak volumes. Although you may not have all the right words your presence alone will be the comfort she needs. Just show up ready and willing, leaving any judgement at the door, to give her whatever she needs, be it recovery from a cheating boyfriend or search help after getting pink slipped.

4. Challenge her. A good friend is unafraid to challenge her friend’s actions, especially when they seem risky. However, there’s a fine line between challenging her ideas and telling her what to do. Be careful that you stay on the side of provocative debate without crossing into mom territory. Otherwise, she may not want to share her thoughts with you in the future and become offended and defensive in the meantime.

5. Stop to smell the roses. Good besties remember and notice the little things. She remembers the day your in-laws are finally due to leave after an 18-day visit and then comes over with celebratory cocktails. She notices when you’re using a new eyeliner and gives a genuine compliment. Recognizing the little stuff goes the distance with good friends because friends are often the only ones who do notice. Try jotting down special days your gal pal mentions, job reviews, important doctor appointments, etc., on your calendar so you don’t forget to ask about them.

6. Let her breathe.  One of the quickest ways to kill a great friendship is to smother it. Healthy friendships need breathing room, so manage friendship expectations reasonably. Remember, you are not dating so she doesn’t need to check in every day or call to tell you if she is meeting up with another friend.  Nobody likes a crazy jealous boyfriend, so be sure not to play that part in your friends lives either!

7. Forgive and forget.  Everyone screws up, even when we start out with the best intentions. Think of what life would be like without her in comparison to her faults, and you’ll probably want to overlook your friend’s human mistakes and move on.  Think of all the times other people have overlooked your downfalls and accepted you with open arms, and be that person for your friends.

8. Accept her weaknesses.  So she isn’t the best listener, that doesn’t mean you should cross her off your list entirely. Recognize your friends’ shortcomings but remember each of their individual strengths as well.  Put the microscope on YOU, and you might become more open-minded.  Remember, you don’t expect a man to be perfect, so why would you put that pressure on a girlfriend?

9. Know when to zip it.  This is the hallmark of true friends, knowing when to offer advice, and when to just shut up. It’s why women band together. Assume that your friend just wants a safe place to vent, not judgment or a plan of action. Wait to offer your opinion until she asks for it.  If she does, frame your advice in a very nurturing and supportive way but citing what you would do in her situation.  Ask her questions about her situation, instead of sharing your experiences all the time. Let her ramble even when she is being repetitive and keep your mouth shut and your heart open, always.

10. Be cash-conscious. In this economy, it pays to be sensitive to your friend’s budgets when making plans or divvying up a check.  Everyone seems to be pinching pennies these days, but if you know that a friend is particularly struggling, maybe offer to help with her check at lunch, or suggest a lower-priced activity that you can do together.  Talk a walk together, or make dinner instead of spending money at a restaurant.

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