Updated: Mar 27, 2019
I am sticking with this friendship theme that I’ve got going on. In previous blogs, I've talked about how the friends we make in our freshman year have an impact on the rest of our lives. I've also tackled how our friends are genetically like us. Not only is friendship an interesting topic for me, but it also has a clear impact on our lives at least according to a myriad of studies. If you’re interested in reading more about these studies check out the article “More and more research shows friends are good for your health” written by Emily Sohn for the Washington Post.
If you’ve ever felt like there’s something missing in your friendships – you’re not alone. But there’s also a good reason for that feeling. As you probably know, our friends all fulfill a different role in our lives. And, just like you need all four food groups to be healthy, it turns out that you need distinct types of friends to feel well supported.
Most of the time, when you’re making friends you don’t really think about what kind of role they will fulfill in your life – it’s not a natural thing to do. Tom Rath and the Gallup organization surveyed over a thousand people and, based on this survey, Rath & the Gallup organization established that you need eight types of “vital friends.” It turns out that if you’re missing one of the eight types, you’ll feel like you’re not getting everything you need. Eventually, you will, often, feel disappointed in your squad. Without further ado let’s dig in.
This friend is like a coach, they are there to motivate and encourage you; they believe in your potential and won’t let you give up. This is the friend who leads you to achieve more every day. If you think you are missing a builder in your life, then you should start asking more people for advice. Then, check out who gives you the best answer and supports you; who check in with you later to see how you are advancing – that’s your builder. If you already have a builder but you need them to be better, explain what you’re working towards and what you’re struggling with. Let them know you welcome their support and allow them to pester you if you become negligent with your goals. For me, this perfectly describes my friend Steph; whenever I’m struggling with anything I know that she’s the one who I have to go to for advice. Not because she’s an expert, but she’s the one who encourages me and will never let me give up.
This friend is your personal cheerleader; they stand up for you and believe in you. But, most importantly, they don’t just compliment behind your back but also do so in your presence. This is your most loyal and trustworthy friend. Think of the person you share your secrets with, the friend you know would never judge you for your actions. The champion in your life is your biggest supporter, they are proud of you and they will share their pride with others. Missing a champion in your life? This is the person who is always celebrating others. They’re the humble and kind individuals you come across, so make sure to connect with them. Wanna help your champion help you? Keep them updated on what you’re up to and what your goals are. But, always remember to thank them when you're thriving. I think that the friend in my circle that fits this role is Barbie, she supports me and believes in me in a way that is similar to how my mom believes in me.
You know that friend who is into the same things you are? They watch the same weird shows as you do, has the same sense of humor as you do and, every time you meet with them, it’s like going on an adventure. That friend you just thought of right this moment – that’s your collaborator. A collaborator is a friend who has similar interests as you, this is the friend you share a passion with and you usually belong to the same groups. Many great friendships start with a similar interest. When you talk to someone that's a lot like you, you’re on familiar ground and, in those conversations, you usually find that you have similar goals in life. Missing a collaborator in your life? Tell those around you about the oddball things you are into like cosplay, knitting or simply board games; let them know and see who joins you to events related to these interests or go to these events and meet fellow enthusiasts there. Your collaborator is, basically, the Robin to your Batman, the peanut butter to your jelly, the Tom to your Jerry, the Drake to your Josh, the cookies to your milk, the Christina to your Meredith, the Spongebob to your Patrick, simply put – your partner crime. I have 2 people in my life who fit this description and that makes me feel incredibly blessed to have them in my life. But, these same 2 people also fill the role of the next vital friend, according to Rath & Gallup.
This is simply your best friend; they won’t just be your alibi. they’ll be the one helping you get rid of the body. They’ll be there for you even when everyone else is walking out. This is the person you share a bond with that it is unbreakable. When you have news, no matter if it’s good or bad, they are the person you first want to share it with. Before you know it yourself, they can, sometimes, sense your feelings or concerns. If you’re still looking for your companion think of your current friend circle and consider who you’d like to have a stronger relationship with. Make sure you see them more often, be open and vulnerable with them.
My collaborators and companions are Steph and he-who-does-not-want-to-be-named, they’ve been with me through so much that, at this point, I wouldn’t know what my life would look like without them in it. They are the definition of Vital Friends.
So, we’ve had the best friend, the supportive friend, the encouraging friend and the friend with similar interests, but another vital friendship is that friend who introduces you to new people. Rath & the Gallup organization call that friend the connector.
That’s the friend who, no matter what you might need, they know someone who can help. A connector is a bridge builder who helps you get what you want. When you need something – a job, a doctor, a friend, or a date – a Connector points you in the right direction. They seem to “know everyone.” If you need to get out more or simply want to widen your circle of friends or business associates, a Connector can help. You know that friend who’s always inviting you to do things with other people you don’t know? That’s your connector. In need of a connector? Find the person in your life who always seems to know everyone and introduce yourself to them. If you need the help of your connector, just ask them for introductions. In my life this is Lorenzo, wherever we may go I can be sure that he’ll make a friend there or he already knows someone there. He's like Barney from How I Met Your Mother – he has a guy for everything he could possibly need.
Next up you need that friend who just makes you feel great.
That friend who you’re always laughing around, who knows the new place to go to or that awesome activity to do, that is the energizer. An energizer is that friend you have more positive moments in life when you are with them. They can make a difficult day good and a good day great. Is your squad missing an energizer? Look for the life of the party and introduce yourself. Want to further motivate your energizer? Let them know they're appreciated and return the positivity. For me this friend is Laura, that girl is THE life of the party and can always brighten my day with her presence.
Alright, we’ve had 6 out of 8 vital friends so far, let’s see who’s next.
This is the friend that introduces you to innovative ideas, sends you interesting articles, or tells you about that interesting TED talk they heard. Simply put, mind openers are the friends who expand your horizons and encourages you to embrace new things, it’s the friend that challenges you. This is the friend that broadens your perspective on life and makes you a better person for it. Need to find a mind opener? Share your ideas with more people and see who regularly offers new perspectives on these ideas. If you want to encourage your mind opener, suggest they play devil’s advocate with your ideas and consider their feedback. I don’t know if I have a mind opener in my life; maybe my brother, he’s the one who’s always introducing me to new topics and things that I wouldn’t normally gravitate to on my own.
And the last, but not least, the important friend in your squad...
The friend that helps you plan your life; sometimes they’re a mentor and other times they’re the ones you bounce your ideas off of. But, they’re always the friend giving you advice and pointing you in the right direction. When you need guidance in a tricky situation, they help you see a positive future while keeping things grounded. Whenever you are stuck and don’t know how to proceed, that’s when you need a navigator. They guide you in to finding what you want and don’t want. This is the friend you need to share your hopes and dreams with because, when you do, you will continue to learn and grow. In search of a navigator? Ask those around you about themselves, it’s amazing what some people in your circle might have overcome without you ever knowing about their struggle. They can offer you insights into your challenges thanks to their experiences. Need to improve your navigator? Let them know what decisions you’re facing, share your hopes and dreams with them and ask them how they’d go about getting from where you are to where you want to be.
Ever since I read about this I’ve been wondering who my navigator is. I think that I, personally, don’t have one specific navigator. Instead, I have several people in my life who I ask for guidance and advice.
Since reading about this theory I’ve been wondering which role I play in the life of my friends. To have the perfectly fulfilling friend squad you need these eight types of friends – the best friend, the supportive friend, the encouraging friend, the friend with similar interests, that friend who introduces you to new people, the one who makes you feel good when they’re around, the friend that challenges you and the friend that guides you. But that doesn’t mean your friend squad needs eight people, sometimes people fill multiple roles, like in my case, and that’s fine too. Find the roles that your squad is missing and work on strengthening the relationships with the ones you already have. As it is life is hard enough, so make sure your squad is complete and can offer you the love and support you require to make it through the challenging times.
Ps. Make sure to ask your friends which role you play in their lives so that you can also be a better friend to them and further strengthen the bond y’all have with one another.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blogpost are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of Phryme Magazine.