"How to Be a Best Friend Forever"Having a best friend is one of life’s greatest joys, and research overwhelmingly proves that our life depends on them. The absence and presence of them affects our physical and mental health ¬ even our finances. In a world of diluted friendships, from “besties” to Facebook friends, friendships of convenience and “specialty” BFs, how do we find and keep them?

In How to Be a Best Friend Forever: Making and Keeping Lifetime Relationships, clinical psychologist and best-selling author Dr. John Townsend shows us the sustaining strength of forever friendships, helps us break through barriers, and reveals eight vital skills necessary for building long-term, rewarding friendships.

Backed by up-to-date research and illustrated with real stories from his own life, How to Be a Best Friend Forever provides simple but profound ideas for finding deeper connections and staying the course when challenges arise.

Five Best Friendship Rules to Live By

Adapted from How to Be a Best Friend Forever by Dr. John Townsend

Is there room for more than one BFF in your life?

While some people prefer to have a #1 friend, Dr. Townsend says we need more than one best friend because each person brings a certain set of qualities to a relationship. Variety is the spice of life and BF should be a plural term.

What about best friends of the opposite sex?

Dr. Townsend says, exercise caution. Sharing feminine and masculine viewpoints helps balance us, grow us, and make us better people, but close opposite-sex relationships can bring fear and insecurity into our romantic relationships. If that’s the case, both people should spend time with the BF, so the other person feels safe, loved, and assured that everything is on the up and up.

What if your spouse or your sister is your BFF?

You might be limiting your own growth because you are operating in a closed system. And if your husband or wife is your best friend, you risk smothering them and your marriage. Dr. Townsend encourages connections outside the comfort zone of family.

Does Facebook make friendships better or worse?

Digital connection is essentially neutral in friendships, but it does have drawbacks. It acts as a magnifying glass, making good friendships seem better and negative issues larger than they are. It also lends to “Instantaneous Dependency,” where a person over-relies on external views, too afraid to trust their own.

What if you don’t have a BFF?

Look for 3 must-have elements, “the DNA of friendship”: knowing, liking, and presence. Knowing allows you to evaluate how deep the relationship will go. Next, are you drawn to each other? Liking serves as an anesthetic to get over rough patches. And third is time spent together. The more time you share, the better the relationship.

John Townsend, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, best-selling author, and trusted source on relationship and leadership topics. He has authored or co-authored more than 25 books, selling 5 million copies, including Boundaries and Leadership Beyond Reason, and has been featured by national media from Fox News to Cosmopolitan. He is a popular speaker and co-hosts the nationally syndicated daily radio program New Life Live!, heard on 180 markets nationwide. He and his family live in Southern California. Learn more at www.DrTownsend.com , and on Twitter: @drjohntownsend.