The 7 friends you need in your life

Prevention (Australia) - - In This Issue - BY ROMY OLTUSKI

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.

Khalil Gi­bran

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.”

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