I'm not someone with a lot of friends, but I'm definitely someone who is fiercely loyal to the friends I do have, sometimes to a fault. If you're my friend, I'll basically rip out anyone's throat who has the audacity to be unkind towards you in any way. I will never talk about you behind your back, and I will make sure you are uncomfortably full of delicious food at all times. That's the kind of friend I am.
That said, I sometimes find female friendships difficult to navigate. Yes, I know there's going to be someone who's all "What you're saying is SO reductive and sexist and the product of internalized messages about needing to be competitive for male attention with all other women and WHAT ABOUT SISTERHOOD?!" I know that response is coming, so let me be clear: I don't hate women. I love women. And I'm very aware that some of the qualities that make some women bad friends—being backstabby, and overly-sensitive, and generally difficult to be around—are often the product of those divisive, subconscious messages we've all been receiving since girlhood; Girls are taught to hate each other, therefore a lot of us end up being miserable to be friends with. I'm not saying it's a fun equation, but it's sure as hell an honest one.
So while I do have female friendships (and deeply beloved ones, at that), the point remains: Sometimes, being very matter-of-fact about what I believe friendship entails makes it tough to be friends with girls who don't share the same philosophy. I think it helps to go into female-female friendships with some sort of idea of what is absolutely required of you at all times. Because the truth is, girls are often taught, in detail, how to go about winning a man and doing well at school and plucking our eyebrows and killing it at work, but we aren't taught very much about how to be there for each other, and what a healthy, awesome, lasting best friendship should be about. So I've made us a little cheat sheet: These are the things all best friends should always be prepared to do for each other at all times.
Obviously, these could also apply to female/male friendships, male/male friendships and even romantic relationships. There are some things that are subjective, like whether or not you borrow each others clothes (I do not share my clothes, I don't borrow clothes, and I hate the notion that as a friend you are somehow obligated to share and borrow), but there are some things which I think are—or at least should be—universal.
1. Be there when they're sad
If your friend is having a rough go of things, you should be there, without question. Even if you have brunch plans with your SO. Postpone them. Postpone all plans if possible. It's our duty as friends to be there for one another. There's even a song about it.
2. Hate whomever they hate
I mean, if they hate your mom then maybe you get a pass. Maybe. It really does depend if your mom deserves to be hated, tbh. But if someone is being mean to them at work, or some acquaintance is talking behind their back, or someone they were dating dumped them via text, you must hate without question. Everything they need to hear about that person, especially the really hateful stuff, should be coming out of your mouth, because while I don't condone meanness, sometimes, between besties, it's essential to vent about a manipulative co-worker/cheating ex/malicious party pal.
3. Have their back when they're wrong
No one needs back up when they're right. Being right is backup enough. When your friend is making the wrong decision, have their back. If they're going for the wrong job or the wrong person, you can tell them your opinion, but ultimately, it's their choice. As long as they're not putting themselves in physical danger, you've got to support them. Because one day, you're going to make a decision that's going to turn out to be wrong, and when that happens, all you're going to want is your friend in your corner. When everything goes pear-shaped, see Rule #1. (And no saying "I told you so". We're all grown-ups here.)
4. Give unbiased and immediate opinions on pictures of potential outfits sent from change rooms
As a friend, you're on call 24/7 to give opinions about clothes, shoes, accessories, make up, couches, hair styles, cars, magazines, vases, lotions, ANYTHING that your friend is considering buying and would like your advice on. And you must give that opinion nicely, but always truthfully, and without judgement. And it preferably needs to happen immediately. If you wait to finish an email before responding to your BFF's "Should I?!" text, it might already be too late and she might have bangs now. SHE MIGHT HAVE BANGS, THE EMAIL CAN WAIT.
5. Do all their social media stalking
Social media stalking can be unhealthy, so as a friend, you need to take charge when it comes to finding out things like who your pal's ex is dating now. All the social media stalking that would be insane for them to do is now your responsibility. Don't pretend like you don't love it.
6. Tell them they're beautiful/funny/smart amazing without being prompted
When you care about someone, that's a tacit agreement that you've taken on the obligation to make them feel good with your words and actions. You should always be reminding your friend how wonderful they are, because people really don't do that enough. What are friends for if not to make each other feel like gorgeous, sugary, sparkling boxes of donuts with sprinkles, aka, the most beautiful thing on earth?
7. Defend them even when they're not around to hear it
You should be saying lovely things about your friend behind their back, as well as to their face. And if another friend starts talking smack on your friend, even if you're all BFFs, it's your job to put a hasty end to it. I have a take-no-prisoners approach to backstabbing: If someone wants to shade your bestie, it's your job to shut the discussion down immediately.
8. Help them professionally whenever you have the opportunity
This is where we can all afford to be more like rappers, who undoubtedly have the whole "do your absolutely best to come up together if you can" thing figured out. When you're doing well at work, take your crew with you. Competition is healthy but jealousy is not: If you have a contact that could help your friend get a dream job, you should literally be tattooing that info to their arm. You should help your friends get where they want to go, because you're a team.