Will your friendship last? – The 3 types of friends

Not all friendships are created equal. Some are built to last while others fizzle-out as time goes on. You move house, change jobs, have kids, stop playing social sport, party a bit less (or more) – and before you know it, you’re a loner. Okay, it’s not necessarily that dramatic, but you’ll find that as time moves on, so do some friends. If this sounds familiar, or if you’ve noticed this pattern in your significant other, pay attention, it could be part of a worrying trend.

There is a reason that we tend to have fewer friends as we age, and it’s not because of a conscious choice. There are 3 main types of friendship, and while some people may transcend these categories, they still have distinct characteristics that determines how robust that friendship is.


Shared Experiences – The most common, surface level of friendship is friends through shared experience. Often these friendships begin in structured social environments – school, work, sports teams etc. Most of your conversations are based on events – like that crazy party you both went to a few years ago. This type of friendship is valuable because it is a link to your past. It is fun, but it is also fairly light in terms of emotional connection. It isn’t built to last because, before you know it, that crazy party is suddenly 15 years into the past. If you haven’t built a deeper connection by this stage, these friends disappear, often when the structured meetings cease. In reality these are more acquaintances than they are true friends.


Shared Interests – Slightly deeper than shared experience friends are shared interest friends. Again, for men this is often a friendship based on a mutual love of football, fishing, golf or music festivals. Most of your conversations are based on one of these common interests. You call these friends when it’s horse racing season, when you need extra people to fill the fishing charter or when the local footy derby is on. They are slightly more durable than shared experience friends because the common interest allows for regular ongoing contact (e.g. watching the weekly footy game). These types of friends are valuable and important because they give you a sense of connection and commonality. They provide some fulfillment but they are still prone to spontaneously vanishing, as your interests slowly dwindle in your more senior years. Once you stop playing footy and become busier with family and work, your leisure time can suffer, and before you know it, it’s been a year since you’ve seen these friends.


Shared Beliefs – The deepest and rarest type of friendship are friends through shared beliefs. These friendships have often been developed over a very long period of time, forged through a level of adversity.  You discuss your worries, your dreams, your insecurities, your passions – the things that really matter to you. Most of your conversations are based on exploring these shared beliefs. These friends will always be there to give you a sense of validation, connection, affection and growth. However, these friendships rarely just happen, because talking about your emotions carries a social risk – vulnerability. Vulnerability is tough, particularly for men. It is often bred out of us, or beaten out of us, because it is seen as a sign of weakness. This is where the problem lies. By never allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you never build connections deep enough to withstand lifestyle changes.


Building Bulletproof Friendships

Believe it or not, friendships follow fairly similar rules to romantic relationships. They require effort, open communication, empathy, compassion and most of all, reciprocated vulnerability. Now, I am not saying that you need to sit staring into each other’s eyes or anything like that – but you do need to be willing to open up and talk about what is really important to you, your thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

Start small by simply sharing a worry that you have. This is fairly low risk. It could be about work, a relationship or something you have coming up. You don’t need to be all gooey and sappy, but it does need to be open and heartfelt. Hopefully your friend will offer some advice or reassurance. When they do, genuinely thank them for it. This will open the communication lines and show that it is okay to talk about your worries.

If your friend instead calls you ‘soft’, or makes jokes about you sprouting a vagina, they are probably not at the same level of maturity as you are. That’s okay, they probably just need a little time to catch up. Wait a few days and try again. Ultimately, if they don’t seem willing to reciprocate at all, they might not be a good choice of long term friend. But that’s okay too – you don’t need that many close friends. Research tells us that the number of close friendships needed to facilitate long term happiness is somewhere between 1 and 5.

These ideas, plus a bunch of other cool stuff, is covered in a little more detail our 17 page eBook The No-Bull Pathway to Happiness. To help spread the HSL love, for a limited time, we are giving you a free copy. All you have to do is tell us where it send it (below).


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