There's a post over on The Literary Lab today about having friends critique your work. The gist of it is that you shouldn't have friends (writer or otherwise) critique your work, because the feedback you get is not going to be as honest as what you need to make your writing the best it can be. I agree with this to a point.
Obviously, close friends and family who are not writers, or maybe they are writers but you were friends before your writing came into the relationship—either way, those people, as a general rule, are not going to tell you what's wrong with your writing. In those cases, the personal relationship would be too important to alienate you, the writer, by truly being critical of your work. I think this holds true for most relationship in the blogosphere as well. You just don't know if saying something critical is going to hurt someone's feelings, or if they're going to take it the wrong way.
However, I think it's possible to have a close, friendly relationship with other writers and still get solid, honest feedback on your work. I have a couple of writer friends that I met online and we swapped manuscripts and did critiques for eachother. In the process, they've actually become what I consider my good friends, but that doesn't have a negative affect on our critiquing relationship. If anything, I think it makes it more honest, because I know what they want out of the crit, and if there's something HUGE in their manuscripts that needs fixed, I tell them. Granted, I will most likely preface it with a "Please don't hate, but...", but I always try to be as honest as possible. Even if I think it might initially be painful to hear, because I want them to succeed as much as I want to succeed.
So what do you all think? Is it possible to be friends with the writers you go to for critiques? Or do you think keeping it strictly professional is essential?