Photo: Digital Vision/Thinkstock
Every woman deserves to have at least one close friend who supports her unconditionally. You know the kind of friend we mean? She'll tell you if you have spinach in your teeth. She'll go shopping with you and give your little black dress the thumbs up or thumbs down. She'll listen when you complain about work or kids or your spouse and never bring it up again, unless you do. In keeping with the queen metaphor, we call these friends our Ladies in Waiting or LIW. LIWs are a precious gift and something to treasure. Do you have such friend in your life? Are you such a friend to someone else?

Think about the women in your life. Is your support system just that—a support system? Or do you have women in your life who undermine you? Do you have someone in your life that would be unhappy if you changed? Someone who would not like it if you lost weight, stopped drinking, went back to school, got a divorce or moved to Kansas City? Spending time with someone who is competitive with you or who you simply share a bad habit with might not be a basis for a good friendship.

What does a trusted LIW have that makes her different than all other friends? It's really not what she has, but what she doesn't have. She doesn't have an agenda. She listens, loves you and gives advice only when asked, based solely on what is best for you—not what would make her happiest. Do you have this kind of bond in your life? Having a strong support system is essential. We're not saying to dump all your friends. We're just saying take a look at who you rely on and ask yourself if you are getting what you need from these relationships.

Here's what we did to figure out which friends were our real LIWs..

4 ways to find your true inner circle of friends