featured photo credit: flickr contributor Caroline
“If you’re really meant to have a friendship, then it will sustain.” – Kevin Bacon
I caught this quote from Kevin Bacon in the March 2014 issue of Esquire. Simple, but profound. And true. Those friendships that seem “meant to be” in our lives sustain. Those that were just a passing infatuation fade away. But those short friendships, the types that last maybe a year or two due to circumstances, can be very meaningful, and sometimes painful to lose.
We Should Be Friends
The start of a friendship is always an interesting event. Whether the words “we should be friends” are actually said (do people say that anymore?), or it’s just a comfortable vibe felt between you and someone else, it’s always exhilarating to gain a new friendship. Getting to know someone, especially on an intimate basis, challenges our minds to think, communicate, and remember things. New friend Sally has two kids, a dog named Scooter, and lives close to downtown. Remembering facts like this help us bond upon our next encounter, and opens the door to learning more about them.
Now That We’re Friends
You will, and I’m sure have, made many types of friends in your life. Best friends, fair-weather friends, a mentor, a peer friend, even an animal that you would call a friend (time for a mad shout-out to my girl Matilda and boys Cookster and Pierre). Depending on the type of friend, your relationship can be supremely fulfilling, sometimes disappointing, or exactly what you need at the time. Here are 7 types of friendship I came up with:
- Best Friend – Hopefully you know this type of friend. The type of friend that no matter what happens in life, your friendship remains. Large quantities of time can go by without contact, but when you reconnect you fall comfortably back into pace with one another. And when problems arise, this is one of the people you think to turn to first. You are completely comfortable in their presence, and feel like you can truly be yourself.
- Mentor Friend – This might be a friend who is a little older and a little wiser. Or even just a little wiser. Just a person that has their sh*t together that you admire. You may not hang out on a weekly basis, but your encounters with said friend are always welcome, and always rewarding.
- New Friend – The new friend is exciting. A new sense of style, new knowledge to pass on, a new subset of friends to meet. And one of the most exciting things about a new friend is the possibility of the relationship turning into a lasting one, although it can be a bit disappointing if it doesn’t.
- Peer Friend – This is a friend you make that just seems to be in the same situation, and gets everything you’re going through at your current point in life. You’re both married. You both have young children, or are thinking about it. You both just broke up with your boyfriend. You’re both looking for a boyfriend. You both like the same guy. Uh-oh, perhaps friends no more! But you get the picture, this is the friend you make bonding over all the similarities currently happening in your life. Sometimes these friendships last, sometimes they don’t.
- Circumstantial Friend – You’re stuck rooming together at college. Your cubicles are right next to each other at work. You volunteer for the same non-profit and often work on projects together. But you get along, and like one another. This may turn into a lasting friendship, or it may end once the circumstances do.
- Fairweather Friend – These “friends” tend not to be the most fulfilling, and usually don’t last, although some become endearing enough that they stick around. But fairweather friends, just like the term implies, are really only in need of your friendship at certain times. If you’re going through a rough patch and approach them for friendship, they might not be responsive.
- Animal Friend – Some of the most faithful friends of all! They may not speak our language, but the love from an animal, that we reciprocate back, creates such a strong emotional bond that often in times of need we turn to our animals for comfort.
Parents can become great friends.
Why We Need Friendship
We humans are social creatures. And from habits past, we bond together in packs for safety and nurture. Studies have shown that humans with larger personal networks recover faster from disease and live longer. Good friends are some of the best medicine! Friends also provide validation in a world that can be fairly brutal at times.
Humans that isolate themselves from friendship tend to develop some odd behaviors. Friendships can keep us grounded, and challenge us to work through emotionally complex situations. Plus, a really good friend always puts a smile on your face, which is very beneficial to your well being.
Be grateful for the friends you have, and if you feel like you’re lacking friends, don’t be afraid to make a few new ones. For fear of judgement, sometimes making friends can be hard. But chances are, with over 7 billion people on our planet, someone else is looking to connect too. Keep an open mind, and you’ll have a new friend before you know it.