We speak to counseling psychologist Nthabiseng Ramothwala about the nature of different friendships and how they contribute to who you become.
Why do we have different types of friendships with different people?
We have different types of friendships because we grow and change all the time. We go through different phases in life and define our identity differently at each phase, thus our view of the world and of ourselves changes with time. We need friends for different reasons, including friends who allow us to be what we want to be, or friends that give us confidence and push us to be brave. It all depends on which space we are operating.
Should you gain something from each friend you have and why?
Ideally, you should gain something from your friends. However, the expectations are normally not written anywhere, but are defined by the level of closeness we have with each other, which defines what we would expect. For instance, a friend at work may not be as close to you as one you have from varsity, thus is not the one you would share your intimate things with. We are in friendships because we gain something; sometimes we cannot even define it. What you get in a friendship is directly proportional to the level of friendship. We may need to let go of a friendship that becomes draining or toxic.
What different friendships do we have?
1. Best friend
We have best friends who serve different purpose in different phases of our lives. These best friends can be:
- High school friends
- University friends
- Childhood friends (those in the neighbourhood)
- Workplace friends
Out of the different friends we make at different times, we then develop levels of intimacy. There will be those who occupy the inner circle, who know everything happening in your life. They are the friends you trust with your life and who you call your sisters. They understand you as you are and you don't need to change anything for them. Depending on the values you have and will adopt as you grow, they may be your lifetime friends. This friend gives you the edge to succeed in life; she is an integral part of your support system.
2. Rational friend
This is the one who says it like it is. She knows something about everything; you go to her for objective advice. She is the one who tells you the things you don't want to hear, but you like her for that. She helps keep you grounded.
3. The flatterer
The second circle of friends are the ones who allow you to be irresponsible and don't give you objective advice. They always agree with you and never have the guts to be critical of you. They rub your ego the right way all the time, but privately, they envy you.
4. Social friend
The third kind of friend is the one you have fun with, your social friends, but you don't share your issues with them. You don't expect much from them, but they add spice to your life. She's the girl you call when you want an exhilarating girls' night out.
5. Friends of friends
The outer circle consists of friends you met through friends. You can call them once in a while and you are always happy to see them. However, the relationship is not heavy and nothing much is expected from them.