Over the years I have made many new “friends”. Some of those friendships have lasted, some were short lived, and some I look back on and laugh as I realize it was never really much of a friendship. As I have grown older, I have learned to cherish certain types of friendships. I have at times yearned for deeper and newer friendships. I have recognized that some friendships were only meant to exist for a brief moment in time and I have recognized that there are friendships I miss dearly. I have also learned to identify that there are very different types of friendships, and that’s okay. While each of these types of friends has played a vital role in my life at some point or another, it is definitely true that some have mattered more than others. Here are eight types of friends I have made over the years and the truth about the ones who still matter and the ones who don’t.
The Convenient Friend: This is the person you first meet upon walking into a new campus, new classroom, or new dorm room. Usually they greet you with a genuine smile, yet they look just as lost as you. Both of you are surrounded by unfamiliarity and in that you can connect. You ask basic questions like “where are you from?” And “do you have siblings?”. You probably spend your first few weeks connected with this person. Most of the time though, that changes. There’s nothing wrong with this friend. It’s just that as time passes, you both meet more people and you soon realize you have very different likes and personalities. They become the friend you wave at as you pass them in the hallways, the friend you greet with a smile as you stop to say “How are you?” in a hurry.
The Opposite Sex Friend: I think the major identifier here is pretty self explanatory. Let me tell you though, I was the girl that always had a close guy friend. They type of friend that made everyone say “What is going on with those two?”. There were many stages in my life when I would have said my best friend was not my roommate or a girl from my sports team. I would have proudly told you that my best friend was a boy and I liked it that way. We would spend hours together talking, laughing, and exploring. Sometimes these friends and I would even travel and visit family or go to dances together. I loved these friendships. I cared deeply about them. However, all but one of these friendships has ended. They ended not because that person changed, or because we had a big blow up, or because they crossed boundaries. No, they ended because they had to. They ended out of respect for our now or future spouses. They ended because it wouldn’t be healthy to desire to run and cry on the shoulder of a guy who isn’t my husband when my world feels like it’s falling apart. They ended because it isn’t normal to talk on the phone for hours with a guy to catch up on life as my husband lays asleep next to me in bed. They ended because if I was going to be honest I would tell you there were moments when I thought to myself “what if?” in some of those relationships. They ended because there was no long term place for these friendships, except for one. The only one that’s truly going strong would be the friendship that turned into a marriage. As I look back, while I truly loved and cherished these friendships, there is a part of me who wishes I would have made more time for girlfriends. Maybe then I would have more “forever friends”.
The One Who Got Away: This is easily the one that hurts the most. This is the friend that meant the world to you. The one that knows your deepest, darkest, ugliest of secrets and fears. This is the friend that you just knew nothing would ever get in the way of the type of relationship you had. This is the friend you were wrong about. Maybe it was life, maybe it was a boy, maybe it was distance. Something along the way came and stood right in the middle of you two and no matter how much you want to and how hard you try, it just won’t go away. Maybe you have tried to get together over and over and life seems to just keep happening. Maybe there is too much hurt and shame from you both not doing more to fix it, to make it better. This is the friendship that stings when you see photos on social media of them and the friends they have in their life now. I wish I could say that it gets better/easier, but the truth is, this is the friendship that I often miss the most. This is the friendship that I sometimes wish could have started later in life so we could enjoy each other for years to come.
The Work Friend(s): These are the people you see every day. They are often the people who can tell when you’re overwhelmed or upset. They probably even know your family members by first name and what you ate for dinner the night before. They are good people who take a genuine interest in you and your life because you spend 40+ hours a week together. You have to ask yourself though, if I left this job, would those friendships go with me or would they end the day I put my stapler in a box and packed up my picture frames? Often times they end up a lot like the convenient friend. “How’s life? How are the kids? It was nice to see you!” as you shuffle out of the grocery store with your hands full.
The Challenger: This type of friend can whip you into shape faster than a kitchenaid mixer. This friend is hard to come by, but valuable to keep. They are the friend that has no problem asking you what the heck you are doing with your life or why you made a certain choice. They always have your best interest in mind, even when they say things you don’t want to hear. Actually that is what they are best at. You know you can always ask for honest, raw truth and they are going to lay it on you even if it hurts. This isn’t the friend who “tells it like it is” and then leaves you to pick up the pieces. I wouldn’t call that a friend. This is the friend who loves you in truth to see you perform at your best, yet scoops you up when you both know you made the wrong choice. They are the friend that never lets you settle. The one that reminds you that you are worthy and loved and beautiful. They remind you to look harder in the mirror and recognize it in yourself before you lose yourself. This friend is rare, but oh so special.
The Selfie: This is the friend that you can’t get a word in with. They call out of the blue and say “I miss you! Let’s hang out”. Yet every time you are together, they have to talk about everything going on in their life and yet they never ask you about yours. Often times conversations or “quality” time spent with this person leaves you feeling drained and unfulfilled. I used to think that these friends would change or that maybe these friends were just in a tough season and needed a listening ear. Over the years though I have learned that is rarely the case. I have had a few “friendships” like this and they remain in the same category no matter how hard I try to change it. Instead I have decided to recognize them for what they are and to limit my time in these relationships.
The Forever Friend: This is the most rewarding and fulfilling type of friendship you will ever have besides a spouse. Nothing can get in the way of this friendship. Not distance. Not jealousy. Not anger. Not time. No, this friendship is one that is lasting. This friendship grows through life stages where others would disintegrate due to the busyness of life. It’s the friend you can literally go a year without seeing or 6 months without texting, yet they are the one you want standing next to you on your wedding day. They are the one you want to call when you lose someone special or when you have exciting news like a baby on the way. They are the friend that their voice comforts you. The friend who has equally fought to keep your friendship alive and healthy even if they are twelve hours away. This is the friend that is the rarest. They don’t require or demand anything specific. They just are. That’s the only way to explain it.
The Candid Couple: This is the set of friends that are in the same or similar stages of life. You can double date, cook meals together, talk through the reality of marriage and even the gross and weird things that happen. This couple doesn’t judge you or your spouse when they see you guys lose it in front of them and say mean things you never meant. They are the couple that genuinely cares and if one of you complains about the other, they remind you to go home and fix it instead of being stubborn. These are the friends who would never pick sides or make you feel like you couldn’t be yourselves around them. These friendships take work. They take juggling schedules sometimes to make getting together a possibility. They are worth it though. Very worth it.
As mentioned earlier, I have had stages of life when I have longed for some deeper relationships. Reflecting through this list and placing faces in some of these categories though has reminded me how blessed I am. It has also challenged me to look in the mirror and consider what category I fall into for others. There are a few categories that I can be sure I don’t want to get stuck in if I’m currently sitting there. I want to strive to be one of the ones who still matter for someone else. Maybe then those stages of longing will become shorter and less often.
To the ones who still matter, I hope you know who you are. Thank you. Thank you for breaking the mold of friendships. Thank you for giving me hope when meeting new people.