Remember the days when being a best friend meant sharing half of your peanut butter and fluff sandwich and saving a seat on the school bus?  Those were simpler times, and adult friendships – while equally meaningful – require more effort in order to prevail through the ups and downs of everyday life.

In many ways, the work of a best friend can be compared to that of a gardener: with a solid foundation and careful tending, a friendship will continue to blossom and grow.

Plant the Seed

Developing a lasting, lifelong friendship is a worthwhile endeavor, but also requires constant vigilance. Establish a good foundation for your friendship by attempting to understand your friend’s wants and needs, which may vary from your own. All people are different, but the roots of the best friendships are the same: acknowledging, accepting and celebrating our differences. While this seedling needs water and sunlight to grow, your friendships require a different kind of nurturing.

Add Water…

Just as gardens require a few essential acts of nurturing in order to survive and thrive, so do friendships. Be sure to set aside quality time for your friends, and view every shared cup of coffee and conversation as an opportunity, not an obligation. Be available to listen to your friend and commit to being 100 percent present in all discussions.

When asked for advice, be honest yet gentle. This may include occasional, unpleasant bouts of “tough love.”  After all, a good friend doesn’t just say what the other party wants to hear, but takes the time to deliver a thoughtful perspective. This can be a balancing act, however: refrain from giving unsolicited advice, as this can upset the dynamics of your relationship.

Ultimately, while you don’t have to agree with everything your friend says and does, you do have to offer unconditional support – if not for all of her choices, then at least for her.

Who doesn’t benefit from some good, old-fashioned coffee talk?

…A Little Sun

In life, we all have sunshine and rain. Good friends are happy for each other in good times, and available to provide support in times of need.  <br>

Even the most pure-hearted person can feel a twinge of jealousy when a best friend experiences sudden success or exceptionally good fortune – particularly if it comes during a less-than-ideal time in your own life – but you will both benefit from sticking together through thick and thin.  By striving to provide unconditional support to your friends, you guarantee the same for yourself in return. <br>
Best friends stick together.

And Watch it Grow!

Tending a friendship – just like tending a garden – can be a lot of work, as well as a day-to-day learning experience. While there is no precise formula for being a good friend and we sometimes fail despite our best efforts, continuous nurturing is sure to eventually produce a beautiful, beneficial bounty.

Joanna Hughes writes on everything related to lifestyle – from style and fashion to house and home, including custom mats. She is lucky to have many best friends.