From childhood pals to acquaintances who you share interest with, friendships exist on an array of planes. Whether you have a deep and meaningful long-term friendship, a professional type of relationships or one that borders on romance, understanding that there are different types of friends can help you to better navigate the social scene and make connections with others.
Friendships that are built on real connections and have meaning to you are likely to stick around well past the midlife point, according to licensed counselor Suzanne Degges-White in "Friendships at Midlife: Ripe, Juicy, Authentic" for Psychology Today. This type of friendship doesn't rely on convenience or proximity, but comes from a true bond. In these relationships, both friends' emotional needs are met on a deep level. Beyond that, they occur through sharing major life moments, trusting each other and exchanging intimate thoughts and ideas.
A needy friend clings to you, depending on you to meet her emotional and psychological needs. This category of friendship isn't in balance and, as time goes by, proves unfulfilling for both people. The needy friend may feel out of control, helpless or anxious without the other person. For example, Jenny, who considers Sherri her one and only friend, calls constantly and feels somewhat lost when Sherri isn't around. This friendship isn't healthy, as it needs more balance. The needy friend needs to disengage herself from the fear of loneliness or standing on her own, according to clinical psychologist Craig Malkin in his Huffington Post article "How to Overcome Neediness." Doing so means making real friendship connections based on shared interests instead of need. The other friend should set clear boundaries and distance herself from the clinger's clutch.
Some friendships include "benefits" or a romantic aspect. These relationships aren't purely romantic, and the friends typically don't consider themselves a true couple. Instead, they are generally platonic except under certain situations. While this scenario may seem attainable for some people, this type of friendship often results in complications, notes licensed psychologist Suzanne B. Phillips in "'Friends With Benefits' or Friends With Complications?" for Psych Central. Adding a romantic component to a friendship, without the addition of a real relationship, may cause confused or hurt feelings in the event that one person feels more than the other.
You like science fiction literature, and so does Mike. While he isn't similar to your other friends and you haven't known him for years, your mutual interest in sci-fi bonds the two of you together. Some friendships are built on, or revolve around, common interests. While these relationships may eventually grow deeper, they begin with a simple sharing of a subject and in many cases do not branch out from that point. With this type of friend, you may share an affinity for tennis, have similar political views or belong to the same good-will community organization.
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.