Friendships are an incredibly important part of our mental health and emotional well-being. They can offer emotional support during the toughest of times and can cheer us on when things are going well. True friends can help you make it through the rollercoaster of life, but not many people realize just how valuable they are until it’s too late.
When you’re young, it may have seemed relatively easy to make friends in school and college. Many of these childhood friends you made when you were young have turned out to be lifelong friends. Unfortunately, as we get older, making friends starts to feel a lot harder. Everyone has their own busy lives. Even friends that you’ve had for years may begin to fall off your friend radar. This may lead some people to try and make new friends which is a daunting process as an adult. It’s really important to consider the different phases of friendship and the different types of friends out there.
Have new experiences with old friends.
Are you trying to think of some new ideas to do with old friends? Why not try our Adventures From Scratch: Friends Edition? This interactive book is designed to help you try new things and have fun while doing it! The book features tons of great ideas for adventures you can embark on with a friend, giving you the chance to step out of your comfort zone.
Navigating the Different Types and Stages of Friendships
Trying to make friends as an adult means juggling new friends with all of your other life commitments. When you’re approaching these new relationships, it’s important to know what type of friend you are and what you bring to the table in a friendship. This is easier said than done. For example, you may have always considered yourself a bit of an introvert that thrives in one on one situations. But as you’ve gotten older and gained more self-confidence, you may find yourself wanting to be a social butterfly who brings different friend groups together.
So, how do you know exactly what type of friend you are? Sometimes, there’s a fine line between the different types of friendships, and your role in a friendship may change based on things that are happening. Other times, it’s very obvious based on the relationship that you have with another person. We are going to cover all this and more in the below article.
What is a friend?
A friend is someone who you share a mutual affection with. This is generally someone that you aren’t related to but still have a strong bond and deep trust with. It is someone you share personal information with. If they’re a very close friend, you may tell them the personal challenges that you’re facing. A friend is someone that knows you at least relatively well and that you can rely on to be there for you when you really need it.
What are the benefits of friendship?
Humans are social creatures by nature. Having good friendships with people can provide a number of benefits. They can make you feel more comfortable in your own skin and can help increase your self-confidence. Since mental health and physical health are interlinked, this can actually lead to health benefits!
What are the phases of friendship?
Just because someone is currently an acquaintance doesn’t mean they will never become a true friend. In fact, oftentimes, your acquaintances do become good friends once the relationship has had time to develop. There are actually four stages of friendship, and acquisition is just the beginning!
Stage 1: Acquaintance
An acquaintance is someone you know but who you wouldn’t consider a friend. This could be someone that you work with, see on a daily basis, take an exercise class with, or who you see while dropping your kids off at school. Your interactions with an acquaintance are usually superficial and you normally don’t share anything personal with them. Most of your meetings also tend to be spontaneous rather than planned.
This could be someone that you’ve known for years or someone that you’ve just met. The key factor in this is how comfortable you feel sharing your life with this person. A good example of an acquaintance could be the friend of a friend who you sometimes see at parties or group dinners. They may be good friends with your friend, but you haven’t really connected with them in a deeper way.
Stage 2: Casual Friend
A casual friend is someone that you feel emotionally connected with and that you sometimes hang out alone with. This is someone you intentionally make plans with, but it isn’t necessarily someone you would ask to come help you if you’re in a bind. However, this is the stage when you start to really get to know someone. You can then decide that you have enough in common to take the relationship to a whole new level.
Stage 3: Close Friend
A close friend is someone that you spend a lot of time with and who you can depend on. You can reach out to this person whenever you need help or a shoulder to cry on. You make a lot of plans to do this together, ranging from group social events to simply just hanging out at one another’s houses. The things you do together aren’t always related to the event that brought you together in the first place. Most people only have a few close friends in their daily lives as well as a few long-distance friendships they’ve developed over the years. Your closest friends will know you inside and out and love you for it!
Stage 4: Intimate Friend
An intimate friend is someone that you feel comfortable sharing anything with. This is someone who has seen you at your worst and at your best, and has stood by you through it all.
This is the person that you consider your best friend in the entire world. You generally have known your BFF for at least a few years, and there’s virtually no topic that is too embarrassing to talk about. They are the ones that help you deal with the inevitable heartbreak of life, and they are able to help you develop on a personal level by pointing out your flaws and helping you find ways to improve on them. We all need friends like this that can support us when we really need it.
Your close friendships and your intimate friends are your true friends, and these are the friendships you really need to cherish. Acquaintances will come and go, but friendships usually need a lot of tender loving care to thrive and grow. Rather than looking at the number of friends you have on social media and thinking that this means you have a strong support network, always make sure to really look at the kinds of friendships that you have. It is always better to have a few healthy friendships with real friends than to have a hundred acquaintances and a handful of toxic relationships. It’s imperative you let people know just how much they mean to you.
What are the different types of friendships?
Now that we’ve covered what a friend is and what the different stages of a friendship are, let’s dive into the different types of friendships. When it comes to friendship groups, there are usually people that fit into each of these categories. This group dynamic helps the social connections between people develop and helps get people out of their comfort zone.
The Social Butterfly
In most friendship groups, there’s a social butterfly. This is the person that loves getting groups of people together, and who you can always count on to be the life of the party. They thrive in social settings and can make anyone feel comfortable.
The therapist is someone who is a good listener and will go out of their way to offer helpful advice when you’re dealing with a problem. They are empathetic and are usually very good at offering a different perspective on a situation.
The Tough Cookie
The tough cookie is usually someone who isn’t afraid to tell the truth, even if it means hurting someone’s feelings. This is a friend that will help you look at problems from a logistical, rather than an emotional, level. They are also the type of friend that will hold you accountable for your behavior and help guide you towards personal growth.
Although it doesn’t always seem like it, the tough cookies care deeply about the people around them. This is the type of person who you know will always have your back and can find a solution to any problem.
Work friends are unique and wonderful in their own way. These are some of the few people who understand what you go through 40 hours a week and can commiserate in a way that your regular friends can’t. However, you generally have to keep your work friends at arm’s length when you’re working in a professional environment. This means that the bond is both deep and superficial at the same time, which can be confusing to navigate, but is well worth it when you have a shoulder to cry on or want to chat about your co-workers!
As the name suggests, toxic friends are the worst type of ones to have. These are the people that may look and feel like real friends. However, they don’t have your best interests at heart. Instead, they purposefully try to hurt your self-esteem. This is usually done as a way to make themselves feel more important or powerful, and they can have a devastating impact on your life. To see these types of friends in action, you simply need to watch any teen movie that features the quintessential group of mean girls.
What type of friend are you?
We’ve created a few different scenarios that will help show the ways different types of friends would behave in a certain situation.
Let’s say you wake up and find yourself feeling pretty horrible. You have to still somehow figure out how to get your kids and some neighbor kids to school. You message the person who you carpool with to say that you won’t be able to drive the kids as you’re sick.
A casual friend will say “Okay, let’s find another solution,” while a close friend or intimate friend would likely ask if they can get you anything, offer to take all the kids to school for you, and possibly pick them up again if necessary. They may then surprise you with warm soup so that you have something to eat during the day. You don’t even need to worry about getting out of bed to let them in. They have a spare key to your house, or at the very least, know where yours is kept!
You’re running very late for a friend’s birthday party and your car won’t start. You try and try and then have to give up and message the WhatsApp group chat to let them know you’re having trouble getting there. The tough cookie, who happens to live clear across town, responds right away telling you they have already arranged a ride for you and what time to be ready.
You decide you want to have some people over for a game night. If this is made up of acquaintances or casual friends, you may find yourself trying really hard to impress them. It may almost come to a point where you feel like you’re doing a job interview for friends! Toxic friends will jump on this opportunity to make you feel self-conscious about your house, your clothes, etc.
On the other hand, it is much more likely that you’ll be hanging out in your sweatpants eating pizza if your close friends are coming over. They will come in the door like they’ve lived there their whole lives, grab a drink out of the fridge, and settle down in their favorite chair.
You’ve just been told you’re getting passed over for a promotion and are devastated. A therapist friend will sit and listen as you complain about your boss and your coworkers while telling you how great of a person you are. Meanwhile, the tough cookie will help you analyze your work performance and help you pinpoint exactly what went wrong. They can help provide you with the tools you need to secure that promotion in the future.
How can you help a friendship develop?
Now that we’ve gone over the different types of friends and the different phases of friendships, let’s say there’s someone in your life that you would really like to get to know better. This could be that friend of a friend who you’ve heard so many stories about and think you’ll really get along with. Or it could be someone who was once a good friend but who you have grown apart from. The good news is that it is possible to help a friendship develop with someone who was once just an acquaintance or a casual friend.
One of the first things you need to do is switch the superficial conversations to more personal ones. If you’re a therapist or a social butterfly, this should be relatively easy. But if you’re a tough cookie, this may seem a little bit awkward at first, especially since you need to be willing to share personal details with the other person to help move the relationship along. This will hopefully create a natural opportunity to ask the other person if they would like to do something sometime.
Try to find as many things that you have in common as possible. This will give you more opportunities to ask the other person to do things with you. For instance, there’s a woman in your yoga class who you always chat with while you’re waiting for the teacher to come in. One day, you decide to grab a smoothie after class at the health shop next door. While you’re there, you may find out that you both like yoga, knitting, and going out for drinks or coffee! This could be the start of a great friendship where you begin by going out to a cafe or a bar. The next time you go out, you may bring your knitting projects with you and have your very own little knitting meet-up. There are so many things you have in common that it’s easy to develop the friendship from there!
Once you’ve hung out with someone once, you need to put an effort in to keep the friendship going. You don’t want to go overboard here if the person isn’t reciprocating, but you definitely want to leave the door open for organizing another meeting. I personally like to have a “friendship policy” where I invite someone to do something three times. If they don’t say yes or suggest an alternative, I’ll give up. This ensures that I have a two-way friendship with the other person and that they value my time.
Are you ready to make some new friends?
We hope this list of the different types of friends and the benefits of spending time with friends has given you some great takeaways. Now it’s time to get out there and make some new friends! Don’t be scared—this is the time to be bold and create great social connections! Who knows, the person you meet next may just turn out to be a lifelong friend!
Frequently Asked Questions
All types of friendships can be great! Intimate friends can help share your highest and lowest moments while casual friends can be there to have a great time.
If you are casual friends with someone but hope to deepen the relationship, it is a good idea to try and find things that you have in common. This will give you the opportunity to do new things together!
When you first meet someone, they’re usually your acquaintance. They may soon become a casual friend and then a close one. As time goes by, they may even become an intimate friend.
Also known as the different stages of friendship, the different types of friends include acquaintances, casual friends, close friends, and intimate friends.