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Friendship Expectations

by Dr. Jan Yager

When I was interviewed about friendship for the CBS-TV News Sunday Morning Show for a series on friendship that they were producing, TV reporter and interviewer Russ Mitchell asked me what are reasonable expectations for a friend and friendship. I replied that it was an intriguing question since we do have very clear guidelines, even vows, that a husband and wife exchange when they marry, and there are clear expectations for a parentís duties. I thought about it and decided that a Friendship Oath might be useful to consider and even to share with friends. Afterwards, I composed the following:

Friendship Oath

"By accepting the responsibility of being your friend, I promise to be honest and trustworthy. I will try to work out any differences or conflicts that we may have and will try to put the time and effort into our friendship that it requires. I know we both have work (or school), family, and personal obligations, and we will respect each otherís other relationships and commitments, but I will also be committed to this friendship. I will try to only give advice if itís asked and I will also try to be your friend, unconditionally. I will keep your confidences. However, I will also share with you if it is my policy to never keep anything from my spouse or any other primary relationship, with whom I entrust all my secrets. I will try to remember your birthday and be there for you when times are tough and when times are grand. Making time to talk, communicate by mail or e-mail, or getting together is a priority. I will celebrate your achievements even though I know a tiny bit of envy or competitiveness is normal. I will bring fun and joy to your life as much as I am able to as I cherish our past, present, and future friendship."

*This explanation of how the Friendship Oath evolved, as well as the oath itself, is reprinted, with permission, from Who's That Sitting at My Desk? Workship, Friendship, or Foe? by Jan Yager, Ph.D. (Stamford, CT: Hannacroix Creek Books, Inc., 2004) ( The oath is also published in When Friendship Hurts ( by Jan Yager, Ph.D. (Simon & Schuster, Inc., Fireside Books, 2002), beginning with the 4th printing, July 2006, and in subsequent printings. Permission is granted to The Friendship Page to reprint this Friendship Oath exactly as is for educational purposes only. All rights reserved.

Dr. Jan Yager has been studying friendship for more than 2 decades, when it was the topic of her dissertation for her Ph.D. in sociology. A prolific, award-winner writer, translated into more than 20 languages, Dr. Yager coaches on friendship, relationships, and business, and speaks professionally throughout the United States and internationally. For more information, go to: or

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