ANSWER: Thank you for your question, familiar spirits is an interesting area of discussion and many will know the concept of familiars in the shape of animals that seem predisposed to practising magic and typically become pets for practising witches. It actually goes much deeper than that and I can assure you that familiar spirits are different from spirits who simply want to communicate with you and there are ways to tell them apart, and even attract them if you are looking for one.
The earliest mentions of these spirits tend to indicate that familiars are in fact demons sent from the devil, but we as witches do not see them this way – firstly because we don’t believe in the devil, and secondly because they always seem tend to be here to help us in some way, usually with magical workings either as a mentor, or as a servant or aide. There are old stories about well-known witches having familiars simply appear and begin to serve them as its said that familiars choose you not the other way around, though you can choose to find one for yourself.
The difference between one that is here to serve and here to find help, is that one who is here to find help will ask for it in some way or show you that they are in need. A familiar spirit is one who will arrive and begin to serve you in some way. It is harder to tell the difference between one who is needing help and one who is a demon, but it is worth remembering that not all demons are malevolent. Your intuition will serve you well in this, if you serve spirit regularly then your intuition will undoubtedly be well practised and highly tuned into what the energy feels like that is contacting you. If any doubt whatsoever then cut off the communication and ensure to cleanse yourself afterwards.
A loved one can indeed become your familiar, as can any spirit, but it does not do this just because it is attached to you through familial bonds. It will only do so if it has purpose to do so and can be of service to you in some way.
If you wish to attract a familiar to you then consider what you would like to attract one for. Is it to be a mentor, serve you in some way or provide some other mutually beneficial relationship? Usually if you are looking for one, you will need to provide an offering in the beginning as well as some ongoing benefits for the spirit such as somewhere for them to live, sustenance such as they require and possibly even things like entertainment. Ensure that should you find a spirit you would like to cultivate this kind of relationships with is one you can get along with having around and that you will both benefit from the relationship before getting started and you should be fine.
I hope that all helps answer your question!