1. Thou shalt fend off a friend’s embarrassment. In the event of a friend being incapacitated, take responsibility of preserving their dignity. That means deleting their computer history of any odd, inappropriate, abnormal website listings and trashing any shameful possessions that they own.
2. Thou shalt be understanding and considerate of a friend’s responsibilities and goals. If you want to hit the bars or clubs but the friend you invited has extra work for an important goal, or a relationship to tend to — don’t give them a hard time about it. Truth is they’d probably love to hang, but they’re obviously sacrificing for something important. A true friend is always considerate of another’s obligations and aspirations.
3. Thou shalt not allow a friend to unknowingly let go of his or herself. If you notice that a beer belly or a triple chin is developing, be a pal and let it be known. Just a little hint will do. Say something along the lines of, “Man, you haven’t been working out much lately and that’s a lot of Taco Bell.” We see ourselves constantly every day, so it’s not always easy to recognize physical changes. That’s what kind friends with good vision are for.
4. Thou shalt honor the ‘dibs’ rule… kind of. When you’re out and spot a physically attractive individual, the first person to call ‘dibs’ is expressing interest, and reserving the first access to approaching said beautiful creature. Here’s the thing: ‘Dibs’ can only be applied to one individual at a time. You can’t just shout ‘dibs’ on all of the pretty people in the joint.
5. Thou shalt not habitually bum off of a friend. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing things when necessary, but this norm in which only one person per circle of friends purchases gum has got to stop. Asking for the occasional stick of gum is completely acceptable, but never investing in some for yourself makes you a pest. Aside from gum, it goes for mooching food, drinks and whatnot from your pals. Don’t eat the fries off of my plate and a bit of everyone else’s meal until you’ve consumed a free sampler. Friends do lend or give each other stuff, but it’s mutual — not one-sided.
6. Thou shalt provide courtesy laughs when necessary. If we make an unfunny joke, nothing is worse than the punch line being followed by pure silence. Help a friend out and give a chuckle. Don’t go overboard to the point where you look foolish for laughing at such a bad joke — but make it audible. We’ve all seen that contestant on Family Feud who gives a terrible response, yet their family members applaud and say “good answer,” as if they don’t know that a red ‘X’ is looming. It’s just like that. A little support to knock complete mortification down to mild humiliation.
7. Thou shalt not have anything to do with a friend’s ex. That means no happy conversations, separate friendships or dating your friend’s former lover. You have to realize that they’re your friend’s ex for a reason — and now that they’re not together, you can’t have meaningful contact with them. It’s not high school so if you run into a friend’s ex, there’s nothing wrong with being cordial. However, anything more will probably been interpreted as excessive.
8. Thou shalt not replace a friend with an acquaintance met through the original friend. When you meet the friend of a friend, you might hit it off and be rather fond of each other. That’s all fine and dandy, but don’t begin neglecting the person who made your newfound friendship a possibility in the first place. Overlooking an old friend can make them feel expendable, and nobody likes the thought of being replaced.
9. Thou shalt be consistently reliable for a friend. Imagine how annoying flakes and undependability are. Those aren’t the qualities of someone you want to be associated with regularly. Obviously there are times where we’re truly unavailable, but if you make plans or are direly needed — you should come through. You’ll know when somebody considers you a friend because they’ll ask you to help ’em move… unless you own a truck. Then they probably just need your truck.
10. Thou shalt be a human vault. The ability to keep secrets is crucial in every friendship. When something epic happens — be it awesome, awful, awkward, shameful or whatever — we have to share it with someone. Sometimes knowing it occurred in our own mind isn’t enough, and the story is too juicy to not be shared. This is where a good friend is important. We should be able to withhold deep dark secrets without the possibility of someone spilling the beans. That doesn’t mean telling others, but making them swear to never repeat it. It means not a word. Secrets aren’t meant to be transferable, so keep the heavy stuff in your safe.