Badmagic has an interesting post badmagic.livejournal.com/309634.html
about what is friendship.
True friendship is a relationship where both people are honest and open with one another, they listen to and respect one another's opinions and reasoning even if they don't agree with them. They don't ask each other to become what they are not. They stand up for one another and work together to make the relationship (and the inevitable rocks) work.
A friend looks out for you for who you are, not who you are to them (i.e. just because you fit the cheerleader's outfit and look cute, you shouldn't be encouraged to do everything the rest of the squad does if it isn't who you are). So often in the more shallow 'friendships' out there people are asked to "not do this" or "not think that" or "act this way" or "dress that way" in order to be acceptable to the group/friendship. That isn't respecting who you are. Now, a real friend might say something along the lines of "that combination is rather bright, have you considered using the electric orange blouse instead, that will calm it down a bit" but will let it slide if that doesn't fly.
A real friend won't berate you for your personal choices (kosher, vegetarian, Buddhist, etc.) but may try to explain why they believe that XYZ is worth considering. There is a big difference between "you are so totally moronic to eat beef, like EWWW man" and "I'm sorry, I don't eat mammals, it bothers me; can we choose a restaurant with non-mammal options". And there is a difference between "you know, the religious group that you are starting to spend a lot of time with reminds me of the Branch Davidians because of XYZ and I am worried about you." and "how can you hang with those mindless sheep?".
A friend will
- not betray your trust
- not leave you stranded
- not let you be a complete idiot without mentioning it
- will not insist that you become a copy of them
- will respect your choices for lifestyle though they may be willing to discuss their reasoning
- will be honest with you
- will respect you for who you are
- will not make you feel like you have to watch every word, gesture, etc. to avoid offense
- will not insist you make a choice between them and someone else (though they may need to avoid being around you and that someone else)
- will be there when you need them
- will comfort you when you are hurt
- will avoid rubbing your nose repeatedly in your mistakes
- will help you become the best you that you can be
- is someone you can enjoy just being with, even if you are just sitting there reading together