A real friendship survives this test...

How do you know that a friendship is real -- that it's built to last?

The test is simple: See what happens when one person doesn't need the other for anything anymore.

We all get something out of friendships: a person to hit up the bar with, a gym buddy, a shoulder to cry on when things go awry.

But sometimes circumstances change in one's life that leaves them with less time for or interest in a given friendship: They move, get married, they have kids, and so forth.

Unfortunately, many of my friendships have ceased to exist -- or become much more watered down -- as soon as the person got into a relationship.

Some people seem to have trouble juggling their relationship with their friendships. It could be a sign of a possessive partner, or maybe the friend is so head over heels in love that they couldn't care less about their friends anymore.

I've observed that people who abandon their friends for a relationship end up regretting it, especially if the relationship goes down the tubes.

This happened with a close friend of mine. In the 8-month span he was in a relationship, he showed very little interest in hanging out with me. Once the relationship was no more, he was back to his old ways, calling me almost every Friday to hang out.

Such selfish behavior is completely unacceptable. A true friend doesn't leave his friends out in the cold once he's in a relationship. A true friend makes time for everyone he genuinely cares about, even if it's only a fraction of the time they used to spend together.

And making time doesn't have to mean eating out and taking trips to Las Vegas. It can be as simple as a quick phone call or text message -- just to let them know they're on your mind.

If a friend kicks you to the curb as soon as they get involved with someone, they were never a true friend. It's when the person doesn't need you anymore that they show their true colors. I gave my friend a chance because we've been friends for over 15 years.

But I was sure to admonish him very tactfully: If you do it again with the next girl, consider our friendship over. A "friend" who forgets about you one time while in a relationship is bad enough. Two or more times is no fluke -- it means the person assigns little value to friendships once they have a partner.

If there's something I can take immense pride in, it's the fact that I've never abandoned my friends during the 11 years I've been with my wife. In fact, my wife and I frequently bring them along on many of our outings.

Some people mistakenly assume that a relationship will last forever and that friends will always stick around, whether you pay them any attention or not. There's no guarantee that either of those things will happen, as many people in ill-fated relationships discovered a tad too late.

Have you ever used this litmus test on any of your relationships? Have any of your friends fallen off the map completely once they've gotten into a relationship?

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