FRIEND vs ASSOCIATE
Being a true friend is giving of the one thing you can not get back, TIME.
Do not call yourself my friend just because you know or have met me. I'm not your friend based on years of acquaintance. Get to really know me. Accept me for my sole being. Voice your concerns, accept necessary separation, understand my actions.
Friendship is not monetary or measured on your presence.
I've known a person for 17 years and it wasn't until several months ago, that I actually acknowledged them as a friend.
Putting in productive time and establishing the friendship, is a subconscious occurrence. There isn't a whole lot of planning and preparing for the establishment, it just grows into such, naturally.
There is no expiration date or allotted time for the feat; but you'll know when it's met.
Distinguish the two. The word friend is far larger than the 6 letter word.