Sometimes, in the craziness of our busy lives, we can take our friendships for granted, and not think about how we can be a better friend. We expect our gal pals to be there for us when we need them, and that we'll be there for them when they're struggling. But in the hectic day-to-day, we can totally forget to acknowledge or interact with these people we love. And for the most part, that's fine. True friends are able to pick up where they left off when they get together after a long hiatus, and don't need to be constantly in touch to stay close.

But the truth of the matter is, friendship, like anything that really matters in life, takes some work. If we want strong friendships, we need to make the effort. And most importantly, we need to do all that we can to be a good friend in return. Loving and caring about each other is the most important part of a solid friendship, but there are other, smaller actions and behaviors we need to partake in that we might not realize. Whether it's new friends or friends we've known since childhood, it's important to give as much as you can, to show appreciation, and to keep a presence in each other's lives. Friends are the people we'll have the best memories with, the people who will help us get through every heartbreak, and the people who will always make us smile. So make an effort to be the best friend you can possibly be — your best girls deserve that!

1. Show Empathy

Empathy, or the ability to understand another person's feelings, is one of the most important parts of a healthy relationship. This means you make the effort to understand your friend's perspective on what they're going though, not just offer advice. When a friend tells you about something difficult happening in their life, be sure to express empathy, and ask questions about how they are feeling. Make an effort to really comprehend what they're going through. Don't switch the conversation to a story about yourself in a similar situation; don't try and cheer them up by belittling the issue. Tell them you're sorry — and mean it.

2. Share The Stage

It's common to reach out to a friend when you have something you need to talk about, and that's what friends are for. But it's important to make sure you're sharing the talking time, especially if one of you isn't in the throws of a crisis. Don't hog the conversation; make sure there is an even give and take. You both have great things to say, so make sure you're both heard.

3. Don't Be A Flake

Is there anything worse then getting ready for a night out with your girls when someone calls last minute and, with no apparent reason, cancels? Don't be that person. If you have plans, stick to them, no matter how tempting it may be to watch Netflix in your PJs.

4. Small Gestures Go A Long Way

You don't have to throw your friend an elaborate birthday party to show her that you care. Small gestures that remind her you're thinking about her mean a lot, even if it's just reaching out with a text message or phone call to say so. Check in on her on her birthday, if she's going through something difficult, or whenever the mood strikes. She'll always be happy and feel great to see your name pop up on her phone.

5. Dial The Phone, Damn it!

Texting is an awesome way to keep in touch with long distance friends or anyone you don't get to see often. But you can only connect so much with someone over text. Pick up the phone, and call your friend every once and a while. You'd be surprised how much you like hearing someone's voice, and how much better you can reconnect.

6. Listen

You'd be shocked to find out how often you're listening to someone with out actually hearing them. Often, we don't truly listen because we're already concentrating on and formulating the next thing we're going to say, so inevitably, we don't really respond to what was already said. When you're chatting with your friends, make a conscious effort to really listen. You'll have a better conversation, and they'll appreciate that you're present in the moment.

7. Actually Do Things Together

As we get older, we tend to meet our friends for a coffee or a cocktail. And while those gab sessions are wonderful, actually doing things together will help keep a friendship fresh by creating new memories together, and just having fun. Take a Zumba class, go to the movies, cook a new recipe — anything that will have you girls laughing!

8. Show Genuine Interest In Her Life

When you ask your friend "what's new" mean it. Take a genuine interest in what she's doing and how things are going, and check in on them. If she's starting a new job, make sure to wish her good luck and reach out to her after her first day to see how it went. And truly care about what she has to say.

9. Be Genuinely Happy For Her Successes

Jealousy is a toxic emotion in friendships, so when your bestie does something great or accomplishes something awesome, make sure you really are proud of her. If you love her, you'll want what's best for her, so it shouldn't be hard to be happy for her success.

10. Put Down The Smartphone

When you see your friend, keep your iPhone in your purse. As notifications from Instagram or texts from others pop up, it's easy to get distracted from the person who is actually sitting in front of you. Your phone will be there when you're done with dinner or drinks or whatever you're doing, so give your full attention to your friend and keep the phone activity to a minimum.

11. Express Gratitude

Sometimes we take for granted what our friends do for us, but if you want her to know how much she means to you, tell her. Thank her for being so wonderful. She'll feel appreciated, and you'll remember why you love her so much, two things which will only make any friendship blossom.

12. Catch Up Over Text Messages

Do your catching up often. Text your friend any big updates, and check in regularly to see what's new with her. This way, when you get together, it's not a marathon recap of the last month of your lives. You'll be up to date on what they're up to, which means you can focus on the present moment and enjoy what you're doing when you do finally get to hang out.

13. Be Positive

No one wants to hang around a downer. Try your best to be upbeat and positive when you're hanging with the gals. Of course, if you are going through something, don't fake what you're feeling — that's when you need support. But on an average day to day basis, don't focus on the overpriced drinks or the stupid movie you just saw. Try and keep things fun, and your happiness will be contagious. People will be dying to spend more time around your bubbly energy.

14. Honesty Is The Best Policy

This phrase is cliche for a reason — because it's true. Whether your friend is asking your opinion on a dress she's buying or you need to tell her something important, be honest. It's the only way to create and maintain trust, and, while it may be hard in the moment, it will save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

15. Be Wary With Your Advice

Advice is great. . . when it's asked for. Don't constantly give your friends unwanted tips or opinions on their lives. If they want to know what you think about something, give them your honest impression of the situation. But if they're happy, and not doing something that will damage or hurt themselves or others, just let your two cents stay in your head.

16. Be Fair

Friendship is about give and take, so make sure you're doing an equal amount of both. Don't make your friend always come to you. Don't ask her to constantly help you and then neglect to help her in return. And make sure you're not always being inconvenienced and called upon with no reciprocation. It takes two to maintain a friendship, so you both have to do the heavy lifting if you want to both reap the benefits.

17. Be Loyal

Loyalty, in my opinion, is the number one aspect of a solid relationship. Betrayal has no place in friendship. And even when you think your friend is in the wrong, it is important to both tell them that (honesty, remember?), but to also stand by them as they work through their troubles. Don't choose lesser friends or boyfriends over your true friends. Stay loyal to each other, no matter what. That's what friends do.

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