I spend a lot of time thinking about the friendships I have in my life--hell, I work in HR. It shouldn't be surprising to anyone. I told a friend of mine that I dislike having acquaintances, and I could never fully explain why. However, I stumbled across an article that articulates four different ways we establish friendships. This article really spells out different types of friendship buckets people can fall into, as well as how different it is to have a social life versus a personal life.
According to this article (referencing Psychology Today), contemporary psychology identifies four different types of friendship that are defined primarily by the function of the relationship:
- Acquaintenance - you run into each other occasionally, may even be Facebook friends
- Casual - run in the same circles, may share friends, may even be Facebook friends, butwill never be friends for lack of true common ground)
- Agentic - Friendships based on common goals - The ones that Lane Wood suggests taking out to lunch
- True - The people who won’t judge you when you get wasted and do stupid things: Friendship without fear of rejection
I honestly believe a major source of my life happiness is that I have a life goal of sharing my happiness and the wonderful people I choose to surround myself with, with new people. What good is being happy if your friends and the people you choose to surround yourself with don't feel the same sense of joy? I would love to have as many true friendships as possible. Friends who, no matter how much time passes by, that I will always be 100% comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings with because I will always do the same in return.
Having a social life is fun--you know, friends you grab drinks with or go out with. You'll share a lot of fun times together, but at the end of the night, do they send you home in a cab by yourself, or do they take you and make sure you get home safely? Are they people you only go out with, or do you actually have common interests to discuss? I typically make an effort to include new people (agentic friends) when I spend time with my true friends, in hopes that there will always be new people entering my life who I share common goals with, but who also will not judge me for anything I do or say. These are my friends who help make me my best self--the ones who will call me out for my quirky habits, and who I can call out too, without anyone getting hurt.
As the article says, introduce your friends to each other, as if each of them were "the shit" (pardon my French). Well, I have good news--my friends ARE the shit, and I'm proud to have you all in my life. Thanks for being you. (Hopefully you know who "you" are!)