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10 Ways to be a better friend

Tristan is a love stylist who, through internal and external makeovers, guides her clients on all matters surrounding falling in like, falling in love and falling into bed. She is also the author of MENu Dating: Taste Your Way to the Mai...

Are you a good BFF?

There's nothing like the companionship of your best girlfriend -- you know, that girl with whom you can swap any secret, whose closet you can raid and who will tell you that yes, you do look fat in that dress. But nurturing such a special relationship takes effort, especially when life, love and careers take you in different directions. This year, focus on becoming the Courtney Cox to your Jennifer Aniston.

Challenge her

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

Sweat the small stuff

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 a celebratory mani/pedi gift certificate. She notices when you're using a new eyeliner and gives a giant 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.

Let her breathe

One of the quickest way 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.

Forgive and forget

Everyone screws up. Even besties with the best intentions. Think of what life would be like without her in comparison to her crime, and you'll probably want to overlook your friend's human mistakes and move on.

Know when to zip it

This is the hallmark of a true best friends: Knowing when to offer advice, and when to just shut up. It's why women band together. (Have you ever noticed that when you vent to your man, he tries to fix the situation? Just listen, instead!). 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 -- for example, "I can see why this is a hard place to be in. I think if it were me, I might do this, but whatever you choose, I'll be here for you."

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