I initially wrote this blog post in 2010, but in the past year, I’ve found myself mentally referring to it as I’ve gone through lots of “friend-shifts”. That’s a strange word, but all it simply means is that a lot of friendships are seasonal or limited, and tension usually occurs when we don’t understand the seasons and terms in which our relationships are supposed to function.
I’ve had many friend-shifts in my life; the people I used to be really close with, I’m not anymore, and that is ok. Sometimes I tried to confer on people a status of friendship that they shouldn’t have had, and that was not ok lol…
I hope this post really helps you guys 🙂
So we’re speaking about the concept of friendship and how it’s very important to understand the different type of “friends” we have, how we should relate differently to them, and how to minimise pain in each category.
Whereas “friend” is the umbrella term, there are many different types of friends, each which a different purpose and lifespan. Think Doctor. Doctor is the umbrella term under which there are various specializations (paediatrics, gynaecologist etc). A paediatric doctor is only for childhood. It wouldn’t make sense to continue seeing your paediatrician when you’re 35, even though they could probably help you, they’re probably not best suited to…
So let me jump right into it. I’ve brainstormed a few categories of friends and I’ll try to attach brief explanations for each.
- The “PRN” friend. Pro Re Nata or When Required. These are not your everyday friends, as the name suggests. You probably won’t speak much, but you know when you really need that one friend who will listen, or maybe just to quickly share jokes with, you can easily dial their number. The moments are not many, but they are always memorable. These kind of friendships don’t usually cause much pain as not much involvement is needed.
- The Agony Aunt. We all know these people, they bear the weight of the world on their extremely large hearts. If you are this person, you need to know how to release to somebody also, if not you’ll break down. If you’re talking to this person, know that you are never a burden to them; they are built to handle your “madness”. Pain can come when the aunt doesn’t have their own personal forms of release or the person venting feels trust is being broken or they are not being understood. As the aunt, you have to show the person you care too, so a call every now and again to check on them will go down well :). Care should be taken to respect each other, especially if you are the aunt.
- Close Friend. You guys are CLOSE! You can speak everyday or once in 5 months, it won’t change. This is the person you’d give your kidney to without even going under anaesthetic lol. There is usually a reason why you are so close, usually a challenging life experience(s) that you’ve both been through, or just the sheer fact that the levels of mutuality, understanding, growth and development are so strong due to being in each others environment. This is the person that will tell you truth whether you like it or not, usually you don’t lol. They understand YOU…the whys, hows, and whens. Pain comes when one person feels as if they are giving more, caring more, or being more. Pain can also come when trust is broken, feelings are betrayed, and the closeness is abused. These friendships hurt the most when broken.
- Best Friend. I tend to not like using this phrase, but for the sake of this blog I will. I think a best friend is more dependent on understanding than anything else. Your best friend is mostly the person who you think understands you and the place you are in your life the most. You normally do grow together, but sometimes not. For this reason, best friends can and do change and it is important to recognize when this change has come and lovingly not “force it” due to obligation. I’d also like to mention at this stage that best friends are not always mutual. Who you think understands you the most may not think you understand them the most. This is perfectly normal. Pain can come when you expect mutuality and there isn’t, and when you try to hold on to what isn’t there any more.
- Distant Friend. By distant I actually mean a physical distance. This isn’t a barrier in the friendship. You probably only get to talk once every 3 months, if that, but you’re still as close. When they come to town you drop everything to be in their company – they are your close distant friend 🙂
- Mentor/Mentee. Now I think these are mandatory to have. Some people are afraid of the word mentor, so I’ll suggest “elder” or just someone who you look up to. They’re not really your “friend” per se, but more a guide and wellspring of wisdom. Trust is VERY important in this relationship, and without it, the friendship will have a rapid decline. It is a BIG responsibility to be a mentor, and a vulnerable thing to be a mentee.
- Big Bro/Sis. This is like a mentor or mentee, just more personal and less professional (if that makes sense) but both are crucial, both help to instil qualities such as self-worth and esteem, correction, and wisdom. As a big bro/sis your relationship is a lot more mutual than a mentor as you grow, learn, and share a lot more with each other than if you were a mentor (if that makes sense). Whereas one is older, there’s more of a sibling thing here than mentor-ish. You will know the difference. A mentor will mostly be of a different generation/age group than you…there are exceptions…
- Convenient Friend. As the name suggests, they are just that. These are the friends or people you talk to just purely out of convenience i.e. you work together, or study together. Don’t go sharing your life stories with these people…you probably wouldn’t even speak to them if it wasn’t for the setting…less is more in these cases lol. Convenient friends can evolve into close friends, but you will always have a category of convenient friends.
- Funny Friend. You know that one friend you have that is just so seriously un-serious? lol…the amount of jokes you guys share is phenomenal, and it seems like that’s most of what your friendship is comprised of. There’s Nothing wrong with that, laughter is medicine for the soul, so enjoy your “doses” when they come.
- Seasonal Friend. I think these are the most misunderstood friends. You become close rather quickly, and all of a sudden it seems like some random turmoil ends the friendship. You usually both fight to try to keep the friendship, which usually does more damage than good, because the season has come and gone. Sometimes there is no turmoil, you just grow apart…there’s no harm in just parting ways though, seriously…save yourself the heartache. You’ll always find afterwards that the love and respect has never changed, only the season has.
This is not an exhaustive list, and most friends may dwell in more than one category, but every friendship involves sacrifice, compromise, understanding, and willingness…forced friendships are not real friendships..
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