Being friends with someone used to be a very careful business: not only because there were liars, cheats and con men back 50 or 100 years ago, but because a friend was someone who wasn’t from your family that you could count on as though they were family. A friend was someone you could tell your secrets to and he or she wouldn’t either use them against you or spread them around everywhere just so this “friend” could feel important. A friend was someone who would remember your birthday and other special days, but a friend would not remember these days because he or she could get something romantic from you, but just because you mattered.
Because friends matter to each other as much or more than family; friends help each other because they care. Friends do their very best to be trustworthy: keeping their promises, being there when they say they will instead of four hours too late. Trustworthy friends will do what they say they will do, and if they cannot, they will apologize.
Real friends will not get you into trouble: they will not tease you into doing something dangerous, stupid or illegal; if they see that what you’re doing isn’t good for you or anyone else they will do their very best to tell you, gently, in ways that don’t hurt you but will help you understand. Real friends help you if you get yourself into trouble, too, but the best friends are the ones that help you stop being in trouble. They will call your parents or talk to your teacher; they will even call the police if they know you are doing something really, really wrong. And these best friends will still love you even though you tell them you will hate them forever because they stopped you from hurting yourself.
One person’s definition of a good friend is, “Someone I can call at three in the morning and they can help me change the tire on my car.” That’s the kind of thing real friends do. They care, and they act like it.