Monday, April 6, 2009

Eight Kinds of Friends

In a world where we are driven by conflicting needs and wants, and where simple things are complicated, no one friend can be everything to you.
We have many friends and each one helps us in a specific unique set of ways. Some people know this is true and cultivate different kinds of friendships. But people who are not aware of this concept can have difficulties because they expect one person to be everything to them or they compare friends to each other and make value judgements that are not necessary. Or they may be critical of a friend for lacking a characteristic, when that friend may serve some need that is completely unrelated, so that lack is irrelevant.
If you have a 'best friend' that you fight with, or are sometimes secretly annoyed with, it might be because you expect her to be the "perfect" friend and serve all of these needs for you. But how can she know if this time, when you talk about this cute but expensive red leather zippered notepad folio you saw at the luggage store at lunchtime, you want her to be the responsible friend and remind you that you are trying to pay off the mortgage early, or that you want her to be the fun friend and encourage you to go for it because you will never see another piece you like as much again.
When we ask for help, we usually kinda know what type of help we want. If we are in a bad mood, we might want to languish in that and savor the bitter bitchiness of it for a while while drinking cheap wine or silly colored iced drinks. Or we might want to be snapped out of it and told how amazing the world and everything in it is and made to remember that "ain't life grand".
If we know how our friends will react, we can call the right one to meet our needs. But if we rely on a single friend to somehow read our mind and know what to tell us this time, we are setting ourselves and the friendship up for failure.
Figure out what each friend is good at and what needs she serves, and don't ask her to go beyond that. And don't tell me your husband is your best friend in all of these areas because some or them are polar opposites and he can't possibly be all things to all situations. He is either going to make you stick to the budget or he is going to think the red folio is a wild fun thing that will make you happy, but not both, so be realistic. Figure out what 'friend' needs he meets and cultivate other friends for the rest of the areas.
And look at how your friends relate to you. To whom are you each of the kinds of friends? Are you always a certain way with everyone? Are you always the analytical one? Do you wish you could let your hair down more and have more fun? Maybe your fun friend is the one who can help you be more that way, at least with her. Use the types to look at yourself in your relationships.
Realizing there are many kinds of friends will help you be a better friend to your friends. Knowing there are many kinds of friends will help you get your needs met because you will ask from them what they are best at giving. And it may help keep you from fighting with your friends because you won't be expecting them to be what they aren't. No one is everything to anyone, but we are all important to each other in some important way.

Following are the eight types of friends that I have defined, and I will write a bit more about each type in coming days:
The Comfort Friend who will console you after a bad day, bring you healthy food when your are sick, and listen to you complain but for just so long before she cheers you up.
The Validating Friend who tells you that you are brilliant and fabulous looking and funny and talented, and that you are making all the right decisions and choices.
The Shared Hobby Friend who will shop for supplies, go antiquing, start an exercise program, make a craft mess in her dining room, or learn to cook with you.

The Get Off Your Ass Friend aka the Motivational Friend, who will pester you to go to the gym, nag you to make the dental appointment, sign up for the 5K run with you, and praise your successes.
The Intellectually Challenging Friend who asks your opinion on current events, works on causes with you, says yes you should take that class, and discusses the book with you.
The Mentor Friend who has been there before and knows the ins and outs and is not threatened by your success so is willing to share it all, and takes pride in your achievements.
The Creatively Inspiring Friend who helps you pick out paint colors, takes you to amazing places, does projects with you, and says no job is too big for the two of you.
The Party Friend who will go for a drink, got to a movie, got to the mall, take a last minute trip with you, or go with you to the company party to make it less boring.
I first learned this in some corporate workshop on some entirely different topic. This was presented as a 10 minute 'related topic', like a sidebar in a self-help book. And many people have written about this concept and there are probably books out there. This is my own list and why are there eight? Frankly, because I was looking for topics for the pages of my 'tiny books' that have eight pages.


Chuckles said...

Here is number 9: The Facebook "Friend". May be, but not necessarily, a combo of all the above. Certainly willing to "put it all out there". Available at a moment's notice. Sometimes even 24/7...

goprairie said...

wllng 2 tlk n code, must b abl 2 decifer, communicating mainly by completing quizzes and making lists