When it comes to personal and professional relationships with women, I’ve learned that boundaries are important and some relationships aren’t meant to last.

Friends will come in and out of your life who you thought were like family. People you never expected will stab you in the back. You will grow apart with others. Some friends are actually disguised as mean girls.

I try to look at everything as a learning experience, especially when bad things happen to me, such as being betrayed by someone or needing to end a friendship that I’ve outgrown.

I’ve learned that having a close circle of friends who you can really trust is more important than having a big circle of people in your life.

Here are a few other things this social butterfly has learned (the hard way) over the years.

Find your tribe. These are the people who will stand by you no matter what whether personally or professionally. These are the friends who are truly family. They will watch you ugly cry. They truly have your back in good times and most importantly bad times.

If a friend puts you down or doesn’t respect you, it’s time to walk away. I had a friend who constantly took jabs at me in groups and privately. We used to be close, but gradually something changed in her toward me. I began to retreat from her and it came out that she harbored a lot of resentment toward me from the past that she never addressed with me. Instead she took it out on me through passive aggressive comments.

There was always a sense of competitiveness and jealousy that I felt from her whenever things went well in my life. She seemed to enjoy when I faltered.

When we stopped speaking, I realized how much effort I had been putting into the friendship, and how harsh she had been to me. I felt stupid for putting up with that as long as I did.

Friendships, just like romantic relationships can turn emotionally unhealthy. Friends are supposed to lift you up, have good intentions and be loyal. Of course no one is perfect and each of you will make mistakes and upset each other from time to time – but respect, kindness and having each others’ backs are non-negotiables. The length of a friendship is not what matters – it’s the substance.

Not everyone will like you and that’s perfectly okay. I used to really care what people thought of me and was a people pleaser. I wanted everyone to like me, and I went overboard trying to achieve this unachievable goal, which only led to me feeling disappointed all of the time.

I could not be luckier to have a close circle of friends who are truly family

Once I realized that that was impossible to accomplish, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t have to walk on eggshells around certain people. This also counts for potential romantic partners and employers in addition to friends.

Bottom line – find people who encourage you to be yourself. The right people for you will gravitate to you as a result.

Not all of your friends want you to succeed. Unfortunately you will be stabbed in the back. Sometimes you will see it coming. Other times you won’t (this happened to me last year and it was a painful reminder that mean girls exist well into their 40s).

Be careful what you share with others. Less is often more because some women will use information you share against you.

These women always have my back. They are kind, supportive and let me be me.

And perhaps most importantly, be in tune with kinds of reactions your friends have to your successes and when good things happen to you. If you see signs of jealousy, competitiveness or hear they are gossiping about you, it may be time to cut ties and move on.

Here are some things you can do to cultivate healthy relationships with the women in your life who you care about:

  • Do more kind acts without expecting anything in return
  • Let go of grudges
  • Celebrate their successes
  • Tell them how much you appreciate them
  • Truly be there for your tribe when they need you
  • Don’t ever break the girl code
  • Keep secrets and confidences no matter what

Remember to always trust and follow your intuition when it comes to who you allow and keep in your life. Boundaries are a good thing.

You can have great female relationships by surrounding yourself with women who inspire, encourage and challenge you and weeding out the mean girls.