Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ten Lessons in 2010: Four

FOUR:  There are several different kinds of friends. Each of the types enriches your life in a different way.

Once in awhile, I look at my facebook friends feed and try to remember how each of the people who appear there came into my life and, really, where they fit. There are plenty I know from high school and college, a few I met at former places of employment, dozens I met because of shared musical interests and a smattering of fellow Rangers/baseball fans as well. Some of the friendships are deep, and others are more ...I guess, superficial.  I don't mean they don't have value, they're simply not people I trust with my innermost self.

I did a little research and found that Liz Spencer and Ray Pahl, in their book on friendship, identified eight types of friends:

- Associates were people who only shared a common activity, like a hobby or a sport.

- Useful contacts were people who shared information and advice, typically related to work or advancing ones career.

- Favor friends were people who helped each other out in a functional manner, but not in an emotional manner.

- Fun friends were people who socialized together, but only for fun. They didn’t provide each other with a deep level of emotional support.

- Helpmates were a combination of favor friends and fun friends. They socialized together and helped each other out in a functional manner.

- Comforters were like helpmates, but they also provided emotional support.

- Confidants disclosed personal information to each other, enjoyed each other’s company, but weren’t always in a position to offer practical help, for example if they lived far away.

- Soulmates displayed all of the elements.
At the end, they asked which kinds of friendships I was targeting. The truth is, I think all of these friends are important. It's like ingredients in a cake -- you want more of some category and less of another. And I believe I have friends who fit into each of these categories. Some even fit in multiple categories.  The biggest realization I had is that not all friendships will evolve into "confidants" and "soulmates." Those are special relationships, and so they are much harder to achieve. I think sometimes I have a hard time remembering this. But I'm going to work on that.

I also need to realize that some friendships are fleeting. They still serve a purpose, but they may not be with me for the long haul. And that's ok. I need to be ok with that.

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