The 7 friends you need in your life
One friend isn’t enough to give you all the support you need
Sharing our latest travel pictures on Facebook is one of the joys of our newly networked world, but it’s the friends who pick up
the phone who keep us connected to ourselves.
One BFF who does it all sounds nice in theory but, realistically, the person who makes you laugh instantaneously might not be the same person who gives great advice or the one who picks up after one ring – and that’s okay. Call the first pal for cocktails; just don’t list her as your emergency contact. (Both, for the record, are important.)
“As human beings, we have different needs, and no one person could possibly fulfil all of them,” says psychologist Sanda Bernstein, co-author of the book Friendship Matters. “It’s important not to expect one person to be everything to you.”
We’re all for appreciating friends for whichever hats they wear best. Some will wear many, whereas others will adorn your life in just one specific way. And no matter how many you have, there are seven types that many women find themselves counting on. Who tends to fill these roles in your life? You may be surprised by the answer. And if you feel like your list of friends is incomplete, there’s always room for a new one (see page 79).
1. THE FRIEND YOU’VE KNOWN FOREVER
She’s the one who grew up alongside you, stuck by you through thick and thin, and understands the complicated history that underlies every romantic disappointment you shed tears over and family feud that leaves you speechless with anger.
“Being understood and having a consistent view of yourself through time helps you develop a stable sense of self,” says clinical psychologist Jessica Koblenz. “A friend who is able to tell you, ‘You always get stressed before you go on holiday, and you’re always okay’, helps a great deal.”
With an arsenal of private jokes, you two can go a long time without seeing one another and still pick up right where you left off, sharing your news over a coffee or glass of wine.
Yes, you butt heads – after all, you’ve had decades to learn one another’s flaws – but this friend sees you exactly for who you are and offers advice, even though it may hurt, from the heart. Take comfort knowing you’re bonded to her for life. E
Let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
THE INSPIRATIONAL FRIEND
This friend radiates positivity, likely because she’s living her best life, whether that means hiking the Himalayas, going on a spiritual yoga retreat or killing it at her new job. And she makes you reach for your best self. Sometimes we push ourselves when we compare ourselves to someone who is idealised in some way. It helps us reach our own potential.
In other words, you want to be more like your Inspirational Friend – but not in a Regina-Georgefrom- Mean-Girls kind of way. She’s supportive of your goals and confident that you’ll succeed at anything you put your mind to. She sees the best in you and, as a result, you leave her side feeling more confident and ready to take on the world.
THE FRIEND WHO GETS IT
Here’s another key supporting character in your life, according to psychologist and social worker Wendy Rapaport, who co-authored Friendship Matters with Sanda Bernstein.
As a diabetes specialist, Rapaport likes to pair her patients up, “so they have the ‘shorthand’ of knowing the challenges and can prod each other into good solutions”.
A friend who ‘gets it’ may look different depending on what stage of life you’re in and what consumes your time, adds Koblenz. “If you’re a mum, it’s other mum friends. If you’re wedding planning, it’s someone who just went through it. If you have anxiety or depression, it’s a friend who is battling the same thing and can give you pointers and strategies that actually work.” And if you’re focused on your professional career, it may be your work wife (or husband). Most vitally, you relate to this friend because you’re in the trenches together.
THE DRAMA QUEEN
Sounds like someone you might want to cut from the team, right? Wrong, says Koblenz: a “crazy friend who, by comparison, reassures you that you are okay” can actually be a positive part of your circle of friends. “It sounds horrible, but sometimes comparing ourselves to others makes us feel better.”
We can’t always be calm, cool and collected – and this friend reminds you that that’s okay. You might even be their Inspirational Friend, or maybe you’re their Drama Queen once in a while.
THE SOUL SISTER
One of the most beautiful hallmarks of sibling relationships is comfortable silence. Your Soul Sister – who might be a close friend, a housemate or your actual sibling – is someone with whom you share an intimacy so cosy that you can enjoy one another’s presence without the need for conversation or entertainment. That doesn’t mean you won’t find yourselves riffing endlessly off one another once you get to chatting, but you don’t need to. You can just as happily sit, read or watch TV within each other’s orbits. In the presence of your Soul Sister, you feel at home.
Bernstein uses another familial metaphor for this kind of friendship, saying there’s a “power of having an even deeper type of friendship, one in which each friend is able to be a ‘good mother’ to the other”. If you’re lucky enough to cultivate a relationship that is this nurturing, it stands apart from the rest.
THE EMERGENCY CONTACT/CONFIDANTE
This friend is reliable in every way. She’s “the one you know will always be there”, says Koblenz. She’ll drop everything to help you out if you’re in a bind and takes you at your word. What bonds you is trust, and she takes that trust seriously – which also means that if you share a secret with her, she’ll take it to the grave.
THE NEW MATE
Unlike the Friend You’ve Known Forever, this friend-to-be entered your life only recently. You may have met her through a mutual acquaintance or a class you signed up for, and you’re essentially in the dating phase. Some people stop actively seeking out new friendships once they feel settled in their lifestyles and communities, but keep branching out: new friends broaden your horizons and, like actual dating, add a jolt of excitement to your social routine.
Moreover, you never know which other type of friend on this list a New Mate may one day become. “We believe that friends can grow into all these roles, once we communicate and make it known to each other what our needs are,” says Rapaport. “Your changing needs and circumstances are always going to be important factors in who becomes a friend.”