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The Positive Impact Of Having Different Kinds Of Friendships

July 12, 2019

Friendship is important. Deep down, we all know it’s true—and yet somehow, friendship tends to be one of the most neglected areas of our busy lives. In a choice between work, family, chores, hobbies, and friendships, it’s our friends that we often blow off first.


But even as we neglect them, it’s impossible to overstate just what a huge influence our friends have on our lives. From our first childhood pal to our current bestie, each of our friends has shaped our lives in rich and interesting ways. 


The truth is, having different kinds of friendships, over the course of our lives, can create a positive impact that we often fail to recognize.


The positive psychological impact of friendship


Once upon a time, Aristotle posited that there are three types of friends. The first type is self-interested friends who want something out of the relationship, and who stay by our side only as long as they’re getting what they want. The second is a just-for-fun friend, one who’s happy to hang out when times are good but bolts at the first sign of a problem. The last is ideal friendship, those rare friends who appreciate and support us in both good and bad times.


When it comes to these true friends, there’s no denying that they have a huge impact on our psychological wellbeing throughout our lives. Studies have shown that close friendships can make us happier and less lonely in the long run. With the unconditional support we get from true friends, we feel more comfortable stretching ourselves further and reaching for the things we want in life. Friends can also help us develop stronger social skills, both as children and as adults. And even better, when we hang out with interesting people, we become more interesting ourselves.


More than that, true friends influence and nurture each other over the course of the relationship, allowing each person to become better and stronger as individuals. In other words, our friends shape who we are. Even the person you are now is a product of childhood friends you no longer have, in addition to the close friends you’ve found over the years.


Why you need support from different kinds of friends


Each friend shapes our lives in different ways, and it’s great to have a loyal and well-rounded squad filled with diverse friendships. As you move through life and find people you’d like to keep beside you, here are three kinds of friends you’ll definitely want in your entourage:


Confidants: These friends are willing to listen, and to be a shoulder to cry on. Ideally, they’re also brutally honest in a healthy, constructive way—which can be hard to find. 


Mentors: Mentors aren’t just for your professional life! A friend in a mentorship role is simply someone you admire and look up to. 


Challengers: The most influential type of friend, challengers think differently from you, inspiring you to see life from a different angle and helping you get out of your comfort zone.


Throughout your life, you’ll find that you can learn something from anyone. But it’s how you connect with others that nurtures you to become a rich, interesting person—which is why it’s so crucial to choose true friends wisely.

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