When you look at all of your friendships, it’s easy to focus only on the people you interact with every day. But when you take a step back, there are so many unique types of friendships; you may be overlooking how many are sprinkled throughout your life right now.
I’m writing this as I sit in my new office in LA. My husband and I have had a whirlwind few years and have moved several times. Sometimes I think about friends that I miss or focus on a “lack” of friends I have in my new life here. But, when I look more closely, I can see all of the different friends I do have. Sometimes I need to make that effort and pick up the phone to call! (what a novel idea nowadays :-)
I’ve done some research, blending in my ideas, and composed a list of different types of friendships. When you see these categories, you might recognize all of the friends you have in your life right now. You also might discover that your cup is fuller than you think.
All people come into our lives for a reason. Sometimes we don’t know that reason until many years later. But, it’s great to look back, with clarity and gratitude, at the gifts each has brought into our lives.
The different types of friendships you have (and need) in life:
1. The lifelong friendship.
This friend stays the course. You’re both committed to it, have a natural rapport, and share so much shared history. Your willingness to stay together and make an effort places this friendship in the soulmate category.
This friendship brings us so many gifts. We get to experience feelings of comfort, happiness, and acceptance. But, this friendship also requires us to step up.
Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., writes about the building blocks that long-term friendships require. Some include honesty, a willingness and ability to work through challenging times, and the mindfulness to continually show up for your friend with a heart full of gratitude for having her in your life.
This friendship calls us forth. Life is full of twists and turns, and these friendships could go off the rails if neglected. There will inevitably be occasional misunderstandings, but these friends roll up their sleeves and get to work. Firestone says, “Being able to offer and receive feedback from someone you trust is a gift that we can easily overlook.”
We grow through having the courage and willingness to have hard conversations. When you can say that you’ve had a lifelong friend, that speaks volumes about who you are: a person who values meaningful relationships and isn’t afraid to commit to them fully.
2. A blessed type of friendship – the spiritual connection.
We all want to be recognized and understood. This friend sees us without us having to say a word.
Here, you share a uniquely beautiful spiritual connection. This friend knows you and your deepest thoughts and truths. This recognition is a very high and pure form of love.
This friend may not fit into your everyday life. You may have very different lives with not much in common on the surface. But, this friend is part of your tribe.
Your connection is a feeling that surpasses understanding .” You know them on a deep level that you may not know how to explain.” This friend may come in and out of your life, but you always know how to pick up right where you left off.
She inspires you to grow. This friend was sent your way as a gift from above.
3. The compatibility friendship.
You are both in the same lane, driving in the same direction. Additionally, you can easily see every day and rarely have conflict. You get along, and there is ease and flow in your friendship.
A study done in early 2018 sought to determine if friends have similar neural responses. The results “suggest that friends are exceptionally similar to one another in terms of how they perceive, interpret, and react to the world around them, as reflected in unobtrusive measurements of mental processes as they unfold over time.”
The study validated that friends experience the world similarly and that science proves their compatibility. These friends are similarly wired and experience the world in the same way. Through the law of attraction, they naturally gravitate toward one another.
Having friends who are “like us” is a rare comfort. Sometimes it’s nice not to have to explain every detail, and you don’t have to because this friend gets it. You can do life together, side by side.
4. The oldest type of friendship – the childhood friend.
This friendship is unique and special. There is transparency and a sense of place with this person. With all of the business and noise of our lives today, it’s refreshing to sit with a person who can say, “I knew you when..”
Last night I went to a friend’s house nearby, and a group of us spoke of how we carry the details of our childhoods with us every day. Childhood friends know all about it. They remember how the cafeteria looked, that birthday party at the rollerskating rink. They knew you before all of the events of your life unfolded.
This friendship is very grounding. You know each other’s histories and each other’s families, which adds even more dimension.
It’s so fun to get together and have a few laughs, too! There are many stories from way back that only this friend knows.
5. The “that time in my life” friend.
You went through something together with this friend. Maybe you worked side by side with her for several years and compared notes about your terrible boss. Or, perhaps, this friend was the neighbor that got you through a tough divorce with daily morning walks.
This friendship may not remain close through the years, but that doesn’t take away its meaning. Can you look back at times and think about how lucky you were to have those friends?
In 2000, I moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with hopeful thoughts about what the future would hold. Within a few months, I found myself surrounded by a loving and supportive group of friends. I remember feeling genuinely grateful for finding these women.
Two years later, I went through an excruciating divorce. In the end, I moved back to upstate new york with my newborn daughter. Now I can see how blessed I was to have those women in my life during that time. I needed their support, and they were there. I will always cherish that network of women and will never forget how much they supported me when I needed it most.
6. The “mixed feelings” friendship – the friend that drifted away.
People come into our lives for so many different reasons. This friend came into your life for a reason, and serving that purpose, they drifted away.
As we grow and mature, we need different support systems in our lives. It’s healthy to accept this and to let go. Outgrowing a friendship can be a good thing. It can mean that we are evolving and moving on in a new and sometimes healthier direction.
The key is to honor and cherish the friendship for what it meant to you. Also, remember to “bless and release” this friend as you move forward, wishing her the best.
7. The casual friendship – the acquaintance.
In a recent story, I wrote about the science of luck, and I was surprised to learn about the many advantages of having acquaintances in our lives. By maintaining a network of acquaintances, we remain open to many opportunities we may have otherwise missed.
Additionally, a study found that even weaker peripheral ties and play a role in enhancing our overall wellbeing.
This study also found that “the more weak ties a person has (neighbors, a barista at the neighborhood coffee shop or fellow members in a spin class), the happier they feel. Maintaining this network of acquaintances also contributes to one’s sense of belonging to a community.”
So, even now, in this world of fast-paced rushing everywhere and having little time to interact, it’s essential to take the time to connect (even briefly) with the people in our communities. It enhances our sense of wellbeing, and theirs too.
8. The intimate type of friendship – the friend that feels like family.
We all need that friend you can have on the inside of your life when things aren’t going well. This friend knows the inner workings of your life. There is a pure intimacy between you, and the walls are down.
When something painful is happening in your life, this friend walks through the door and sees your messy kitchen and screaming toddler. You don’t even mind because you feel comfortable having her there.
She’s also the friend you can call at a moment’s notice to take your teenage daughter to an emergency dental appointment that you can’t get to (because you are working). She shows up with a big, open heart, and you are always glad to see her.
9. The fun friend – you can’t stop laughing when you’re together.
My mom is a profoundly spiritual person. One day we talked about friendships, and she was telling me how much fun she recently had with one of her oldest friends. She said they laughed and laughed. I said it’s incredible how laughter and joy are in the center of that friendship. She turned toward me and said, “Does it get any better than that?”
Dr. Robin Dunbar performed experiments to determine the role of laughter in contributing to an overall sense of wellbeing. Laughter bonds us with others. When we can let go and laugh, we are living in one of our highest vibrations.
Her studies found that act of laughter releases endorphins that increase our pain threshold. Another finding is that “Scientists know that the act of laughing releases endorphins into the brain that provide feelings of happiness and a heightened sense of wellbeing.”
Friends we can laugh with (you may sometimes even call them “party friends”) are vital to our happiness and wellbeing. We need them in our lives.
10. The multifaceted type of friendship – the mentor.
This friend takes you under her wing and shows you the ropes.
The word mentor evolved to mean a trusted friend, advisor, teacher, and wise person.
This person might start as a mentor, but the relationship can evolve into a blossoming friendship.
When I first moved to LA, I met a woman named Kimberly. She told me, “I’m going to take you under my wing and show you this city and all of the wonderful things about it. I had a friend do this for me, and it made all the difference.”
This friendship offers the opportunity to grow and learn while also connecting and bonding together, making it an extraordinary companionship indeed.
Wrapping it up:
After reading these descriptions, can you see all of the types of friendships you have in your life today? Maybe you don’t talk on the phone every day or even see each other every year. Either way, these friendships are some of the greatest blessings of your life.
Valuing, honoring, and celebrating friendships is a great thing to do. Every person that comes along provides an opportunity to grow and discover more about who we are. We get to have the experience of nurturing a friendship, sharing our lives (and stories), and laughing together along the way.
Celebrate your friend today by sending her a quote.