When it comes to friendship, there are countless different kinds. When it comes to maintaining friendships there are countless different ways. Below is a view on friendship by breaking down the details of different types of friendships and ways to actively maintain all areas of those friendships. Why? Because the people you surround yourself with should bring joy into your life and because you deserve to know the difference between having a friend that counts and people that count as friends.
There is no actual rule book on how to be with friendships and relationships, although many have been written. Recently I took a good look at my friendship statuses and decided to actively make them better. Even though I can say I am thankfully blessed with great friends it doesn’t mean there is a regulated schedule of when we see/talk/hang with each other. When discussing this with my sister she mentioned that friendships shouldn’t need maintenance and upkeep and if you have to “work” at it then it’s not friendship. Although I understand what she meant I thoroughly disagree with her. I believe friendships are like plants. Each one is different and has the potential to grow into something beautiful. Every plant has to be taken care of with specific tending. Some plants need more love than others. Some need sun, and some don’t need any. Friendships can be the exact same in that sense.
TYPES OF FRIENDSHIPS (just a few)
1. Old Friends. Friends who’ve known you your whole life and whom you have a history with that can never change or be replaced. You also probably know a lot things about each other that at this point it just makes sense to stay friends for liability purposes.
2. Newer friends. These are friends you made more recently in life and are still getting to know you and all your quirks. New friendships are great because it branches you out from hanging with the same people. There is always something exciting and fun about new friendships and learning about each other.
3. Work Friends. Those who you meet during your daily grind. You either work with them specifically or are in the same field and see each other regularly. Work friends can sometimes stay just work friends and that’s ok. Some people need to specifically distance themselves from work friends because the friendship can distract from actually getting any work done. Work friends can also be great because you can help each other and have each others backs. Some work friends do end up being in your life more than just at work and that’s always great.
4. Flash Friends. This is the type of friend that you spent a couple of weeks or months hanging out with “on repeat.” Then when you wear out each other’s welcome you both get paranoid that the other person is tired of you so you stop calling? Oh … that’s just me? Ok then. Either way, that’s a whole other parsha (Hebrew word for paragraph/story). Flash friends can be awesome in intervals or can be really destructive. Let’s just say if you have to crawl down your steps to get to your bedroom two nights in a row, you are not in a great place. Be careful with these friendships. They are wretched if they spiral.
5. Family. A family member is obviously more than a friend but definitely deserves its own category. Family can be tricky because there are so many lines that can get crossed and can either tear a family apart or keep them stronger than ever. The idea is that blood is thicker than water. When it comes to deciding between family and friends, family should always come first. There is also a friendship family timeline where there are years that have more probability of closeness as opposed to other years. For example, teenagers can either really connect with their family or distance themselves. There are ways of preparing for these stages but we won’t get into that here.
6. Camp Friends. Camp friends are great for many reasons. One is, if you are with your camp friends it means it’s summer! Camp friends are fun and can sometimes be from all over. Growing up I went to a sleep away camp and just couldn’t wait for the one or two times a year when I would make plans with my camp friends that unfortunately I didn’t get to see much. This kind of friendship needs major watering or else you just lose touch.
7. Homegirls or Homies. These people are ride or die. They will be there for any and everything. They can be from any and all above groups. Most likely they have been there for life changing moments and crucial times that forever bond. They are thick and thin. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak for weeks or months it’s as if nothing has changed. Tight forever. These are rare, strong and powerful relationships. Sometimes these people have the most potential to hurt you because they mean so much. That means they also have the power to uplift you out of some of your worst moments.
8. Acquaintances. You share a mutual respect and see each other from time to time. Even though you never got close you still know you could have and relish the thought that they know it too and you are both content with where you stand with each other.
9. School Friends. They can be people you went to elementary, high school, college, grad school etc… with. School friends are sometimes the easiest because you have no choice but to hang. You see them all the time and don’t really have to work hard since you are always in each others lives. After school ends is when the tough part begins.
10. Long Distance Friends. These are all active friendships. You have to actually stay in touch to be in touch.
Now that we have broken down some types of friendships, let’s get down to the meat of it all (if you are vegetarian and the like then .. let’s get down to the salad of friendship) and see what we come up with.
Scenarios of friendship and the lines of closeness that can be achieved by being more active in them.
1. The things you share with one friend that differ from what you would tell another. It’s not a favoritism. it is most likely a comfortability thing. Some people receive information differently. One person may be more sensitive to certain subjects. You also may just not want to tell certain people certain things. This shows a level of friendship. The line between what is shared.
I’m usually an open book. Probably too much and sometimes expect other people to be as open with me as I am with them. This can backfire (and trust me it has). You don’t want to overshare. Some things are meant to be found out slowly or not at all. Friendship doesn’t mean you have to spill your guts or expect others to.
2. For the friends that have been there for a while even if your relationship is tight, you still need to stay in each others lives. At the very least know what’s up. That’s bare minimum. I’m not saying treat a friendship with bare minimum. I’m saying, even if you are both super busy or apart (we’ll get to long distance later) there has to be some sort of current connection. Don’t lose that. Texts can go a long way!
3. Be actually verbal with each other. You can’t expect a friend to know what’s going on in your life if you never tell them. I had a very close friend whose grandparent passed away and I didn’t know until a month later. I couldn’t be there for her because she didn’t give me the opportunity. Everyone is allowed to share or not share whatever they want with their friends, but the point of bringing it up is because you can’t do for someone if you don’t know. It’s ok to be open if you are going through a rough time. Sometimes an ear to listen is the best medicine.
4. Make sure to meet up, go for dinner if not regularly then once in a while. If you disappear from sight you disappear from mind. Even if you know your schedule is tight, make tentative dates at the every least and go from there. Even if it doesn’t happen, at least you are making an effort and the intention is there.
5. I know social media is tough because sometimes people miss things, but if you are going for friend of the year, liking people’s posts is a universal friendship coin. Some people may think that’s a weak way to be a friend. I’m not saying use likes as a way of becoming friends with someone (although it helps), I’m saying if you like your friends posts it shows a taken interest and thought about the friend and their go abouts even if you can’t be present on the day to day.
6. Ok, so buying gifts are huge on the friendship list. Some friends are more generous than others. Thats perfectly fine since everyone can spend at their own discretion. I do not claim to be good at it, but I definitely know my customer when I do. Get personal with it. These days it’s easy to know what people like (you literally just need to see what they actually “like” and connect the dots).
7. Don’t be weird about mixing groups. I did that as a kid and it was stupid. Let other people decide if they are cool with hanging out. Don’t set friendship limits on mixing groups.
8. Make it clear the type of person you are and what you will not tolerate in a friendship. I’m not saying do it all tyrant-like but sometimes you got to be clear and say what kind of $#!^ won’t fly. It’s preventative and very important when starting a friendship.
9. Document memories. Not saying start collaging and scrapbooking everything (although I do love a good collage) but the special bond memories should have something to show for it.
10. Show up. Some friends have gigs, games, rallies, meets, etc. Showing up when you can is basic fundamentals of friendship.
In the end, friendships come and go. Some last longer than others and some last forever. For me, it’s about making the time you have worthwhile. It’s not always about having something to show for it. Friends are there to support, love, and be real with you. If you are looking to gain in friendships focus on strengthening yours. Don’t put too much expectation on people because we are all human and sometimes disappoint. Friendships will have ups and downs always. It’s up to you to decide how up or how down it will go.