There’s an article about friendships that has made its round on the web for the past few years, entitled Five Friends Every Woman Should Have. It’s written by Michelle Burford, of O, The Oprah Magazine, and begins with this commentary:
“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves,” writer Edna Buchanan once said. I consider the “family” I’ve gathered — with five kinds of pals I count on for completely different things — among the wisest choices I’ve made. If you can find even one who embodies any of the characteristics that follow, you can consider yourself fortunate.
In case you haven’t read it, I’ve included the a link to the original article.
Burford lists the five categories of friends as: The Uplifter, The Travel Buddy, The Truth Teller, The Girl Who Just Wants to Have Fun, and The Unlikely Friend. I’d like to expand on her thoughts a bit based on my own life experiences…
1. The Uplifter
This friend is more likely to say “yes” than “no” regardless of the situation. She’s willing to watch your kids when you need a break, and sends you posts of encouragement when you’re feeling down. She is often a breath of fresh air in your life and a perpetual source of positive feedback.
Travel Active Buddy
I’m guessing there are not a lot of 30- and 40-something moms who can jet-set off to St. Lucia with pals (as the original author suggested). Instead, I think this friend is the woman who joins you for a late-night chick-flick when you need a few laughs, or the one who cycles beside you regularly at the gym (for those of you who, you know, actually exercise). There may not be a ton of deep conversation with this buddy, but that’s OK because the silence (while you’re being active together) is comfortable. You enjoy that this woman is just there with you when you need to do something.
3. The Truth Teller
Burford wrote, “Intent is what separates the constructive from the abusive. Once you’ve established that the hard news is spoken in love (not in jealousy or malice), you’d be smart to seek out this woman’s perspective.” I agree. We all need a friend who knows us well enough to know when we’re lying to ourselves, or need to be held accountable for our behavior (no matter how ugly it is). In addition, for Christian women, this friend is the one you can count on to give you sound advice from a Biblical perspective. And when you’re finished talking, she prays with you about the situation. Even though her words can sometimes be tough to hear, we all can benefit from a few Truth Tellers in our lives.
4. The Girl
Who Just Wants to Have Fun Who Has Been There
This friend is the one you turn to when your husband loses his job and you don’t know how to handle it, or when the school wants to set up an IEP for your child but you don’t even know what those three little letters stand for. You may have met her through your kids’ activities, church, or some other family event. In any case, she has a family like yours, and can offer suggestions when some aspect of your family is cause for concern. Why? Because she’s been there. Misery loves company, right? The key, though, is to find someone who understands what you’re going through, but has lived to tell about it. This mentor is a great person to help guide you through a new experience, so you both come out better on the other side.
5. The Unlikely Friend
We all have unlikely friends. You know, those who are quite a bit older or younger, of a different race or religion, richer, poorer, or just part of a completely different social circle. As Burford wrote, the friends “have added richness to my life that only variety can bring.” Living outside of my passport country these past 20 months has given me a fresh perspective to just how true that statement is.
As a good (yet unlikely) friend once told me, every now and then you need to take stock of your friends. You should always surround yourself with a few in each of these categories. But perhaps more importantly, we need to make sure we are acting as these types of friends for the other women in our lives. So while you might have a couple of great girlfriends who are the mentors in your life (The Girls Who Have Been There), who are you mentoring? And while you might have several women who uplift and encourage you, who are you uplifting?
*Portions of this were originally posted at wendywillard.com in March of 2010.