Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Importance of Having Different Types of Friends

I've talked about the benefits of friendship before, including stress relief, reduced sense of loneliness, and overall feeling of well-being, as well as how to find new friends.  But today I'd like to talk about the importance of having a variety of different types of friends.

Three Friendship Models

In a study on the effects of social connections on academic performance published in the October 2016 issue of the journal Contexts, three friendship models were identified:

  • Tight-knitters:  You tend to hang out with one big group of friends who basically all know and offer significant support to each other.
  • Compartmentalizers:  You have different smaller groups of friends who are unrelated and don't intermingle.  For example, work friends, church friends, book club friends, sports/fitness friends, and school friends.
  • Samplers:  You like one-on-one friendships.  
I have been a part of all three types of friendships over the years.  My favorite type of the three is one-on-one.  I like to form deep friendships which is difficult in a group setting where I tend to clam up and get drowned out. If I had to choose a second favorite, it would be compartmentalizing.  I like having all sorts of friends with different interests and personalities, so the smaller groups of this friendship model suit me.  At one time Jim and/or I had these friendship groups: football, church, school, volunteer, work, workout.  We've had friends of different ethnic groups, ages, socioeconomic status, lifestyles, interests, faiths, and political views. The most important thing is to have quality friendships, no matter the number.  

Types of Friends

There are many categories of friends who can have a positive impact on your life.  Here are some examples:
  • Cheerleader:  This person is always in your corner supporting your new project at work, relationship, or fitness program.
  • Good-Time Charlie:  You are guaranteed to relieve stress with this friend.  This is the friend you go out dancing, play games, and go on road trips with.
  • Kindred Spirit:  This friend just "gets" you completely.  You can be totally open and honest with each other without fear of feeling stupid or being betrayed.  
  • Polar Opposite:  Opposites attract, right?  This friend helps keep you balanced, and you do the same in return.  
  • The Neighbor:  Neighborliness still exists,  Scope out your area for friendly neighbors.  You may just talk over the fence once in awhile, but it's important to make that connection. Getting to know your neighbors not only may spark a friendship, but it gives you a sense of security as well.
  • The Mentor:  This friend guides and challenges you to do your best whether professionally, spiritually, or in other facets of your life.  
  • The Guardian Angel:  This friend comes into your life when you need him the most. This person provides support that no one else can give you at that specific time in your life.  The friendship may last a few days, a couple years, or a lifetime. 
  • True Friend:  This friend doesn't fit into any specific category.  She is there to provide emotional support without fail, during your high and low points; through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  
Again, I have or have had many of these types of friends and they have each taught me important lessons about trust, loyalty, honesty, self-confidence, and tolerance.  It takes me awhile to establish a friendship, but that's pretty normal.  It takes time to build trust and feel comfortable exposing vulnerability that fosters close friendships.

What type of friendship model do you prefer?  Do you have a variety of friends, or a few close ones?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or email me at  


  1. Great topic! Friends is such an important thing to define!

    1. Thank you Charlene! Yes, thinking about your different types of friends helps you realize what treasures they are to you with the roles they play, unique support they provide, and the valuable lessons they can offer. It also can tell you what may be missng in your life. I find the topic of friendship fascinating and am so glad you enjoyed the post. Take care.