Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Most of us have at least one friend, if not more. Some of us have many friends and large circles of friends from different areas of their life, whereas others prefer to have only one or two select friendships.

Everyone is different. And there’s no doubt that friends add to the fullness of life.

Different friends serve different needs, but the core value of friends is that there is a partnership.

Friendship comes with the expectation of honesty and trust, true authenticity.

A good friendship comes with an unsaid expectation and understanding that the walls can come down and you can be yourself – and your friend will be your friend, present and available. Friendship comes with the expectation of honesty and trust, true authenticity. Three basic values that form the foundation of a long-lasting firm friendship.

Developing and maintaining friendships takes effort and hard work, time and commitment. Friendship is not something we abuse or take for granted.

Friendships may at times take a back seat to other priorities, such as work or caring for children or aging parents. You and your friends may grow apart due to changes in your lives or interests, but true friendships remain despite these changes in circumstances and, when you put the time and effort back in again, the friendships resume just like yesterday.

What is a good friend? How do you know which friends are the keepers, the ones that you can rely on? A good friend is someone who truly knows you, because both of you have had those honest, deep, and meaningful conversations with one another. You feel safe to drop that wall and lower your defences with. There is no shame, guilt, or fear of judgment.

A real friend is one that is there in the good and the bad times. When everyone else is walking away and leaving, that friend is staying. That friend is present for you no matter what time of the day or night.

In reality, no friendship is picture perfect and without its ups and downs. In the scheme of things, there will be times that you put in more to the friendship, but it is a give and take and not about a tally system. But being supportive and loyal to a friend is not the same as allowing a friend to take advantage of you or to treat you with disrespect. Friendships have boundaries and rules just like other relationships. Toxic behaviours and boundary violations are deal breakers. Sometimes you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your friendship. Is this person adding to your life or bringing you down? A little discernment and re-evaluation of what you want in a friendship is a good way to know where you stand.

Remember, just like any partnership or relationship a friendship has rules. Know what is acceptable in your friendship and what your expectations are of that friend. When your boundaries are broken or they are overstepped, it is time to speak up and address this. Turning your cheek or ignoring it is only sending the message that this kind of behaviour is ok. Although these steps might seem simple, sometimes they are hard to put into practice.

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

Eleanor Roosevelt