On Friendship...

Hello!  Just to warn you, today's post is a bit lengthy and word intense, but, I guarantee it is well worth the read!

The editor in chief of Self Magazine is an Alpha Phi and a major perk of being an APhi is a free subscription to the magazine.  I had never read much of Self before my time in the sorority and now it is one of my favorite magazines.  Their articles address a wide variety of topics all with the goal of empowering women.  Of all the articles I've read in Self, there has been one that stands out amongst the rest.  This particular article is one I've found myself mentioning in conversation and reflecting on time and and time again. The article was "You gotta have friends!" and it appeared in the October 2009 issue.

To read the full article yourself, click here.  Because I have told so many of my friends about this particular article, I thought it would be only appropriate to share it with all of you, my blog friends.

The article talks about the need for friendship in our lives, it states that "There's vast evidence that women who nurture friendships of any stripe feel more connected and content."  The catch, the article discusses, however, is that there are multiple types and tiers of friendship.  It is quite clear the importance of close friends in one's life-- the people you can call or go to for anything and know they will be there with support and love, but, equally important, says Laura Carstensen, Ph.D., "are the people you see every day who smile and nod, who are pleasant and who provide simple human interaction that improves the quality of your daily life."  This part really spoke to me.  

I am very much a people person and long to deeply connect with others.  I think I often lose sight of the importance of acquaintances or casual friends.  I have a handful of very close or best friends that are wonderful, but at times, I feel lonely because my store of casual friends is smaller.  If I worked to cultivate more casual, fun friendships I may actually be more content.

The article mentions that psychologists have determined four major types of friendship which are all key to our happiness.  In ascending order of importance:

1.  Acquaintances:  someone you'd chitchat with in line at the grocery store.  Someone who gives you a sense of belonging.
Why not strike up a conversation?

2. Casual friends:  the "grab lunch" pal with a specific purpose, such as your running partner

Swapping running secrets, of course!

3. Close buddies:  intimate, trustworthy friends you can say anything to

Anything goes!

4. Lifers:  "as deep and forever as family"--the person you can call in a crisis; might even be family

My #1 Lifer:  Mommy

The article suggests that the trick is to find a balance of all of these types of friends that is right for you.  It is advised that women aim for 3-5 lifers and 5-12 close friends ("people who are deeply interested in the details of your day-to-day and bring comfort during lonely times, even if you don't see each other regularly").  With acquaintances and casual friends there's more leeway.  Anywhere from 10-100 acquaintances and 10-50 casual friends will work.

It also mentions that at different times in our lives, our needs will change and we should respond accordingly.  One of my greatest fears for life after college involves my social life and friendships.  Next year, all of the friends I have become accustomed to having nearby are going to be scattered.  I'm going to be put into a new situation that is out of my comfort zone.  This article, however, gives me confidence that new friendships can always be cultivated and that with some effort I can nurture my old friendships, while also fostering new ones. 

Does this article have relevance in your life?  What do you need to work on in the friend department?

As a side note, don't forget the Dahl house discount I blogged about here last week.  The 25% discount for the Jumbo Dot Collection is available for one more week, through May 3rd!


  1. This is a great topic. I'm glad you touched on the value of "everyday friends" who may not be your best friends but serve an important purpose. I definitely could work more on that myself. I'm excited to start law school in the fall and use it as an opportunity to make both lifelong and everyday friends ;)

  2. This is such a great article! Thanks so much for this post. I think I need to work on balancing all those! My family or "the lifers" is my number one priority, but I also have a lot of casual friends too!! I want to go purchase this asap :)


  3. Ummm I really think we are the same person. I def. need to work on cultivating more casual friends..I totally understand what you mean when you feel lonely at times b/c the amt. of casual friends is small..this is especially a challenge for me b/c I live in a new city, so all of my close friends are so far away. Thanks for sharing this, it really opened my eyes to the importance of casual friends.

  4. A:
    I love when you post about 'deep' matters. There is something so refreshing about just writing something so honest--and then just think, you'll go back and read it in ____(months/years) and reminisce about how you were feeling at the time, how things worked out the exact way they were supposed to...and think 'i am a fabulous writer ;).' I really gleaned a lot from that article. I am a social butterfly with a plethora of acquaintances, casual friends, and a surprisingly large amount of close buddies. However when it comes to "lifers" I don't have as many--I tell myself it is because I don't want to let people in, or that I don't have time, but for me it comes back to a trust issue.
    Anyway, great article, thanks for making me think this morning--and for reminding me to call a few "lifers" tonight! xo

  5. Great post! I know I have struggled with friendships since graduating from college last May. I am not super outgoing all the time, so making new friends is a challenge for me. I did realize some "friendships" aren't worth hanging on to, those that you do all the work! This reminds me that I need to cultivate new friendships and work on my relationships with close friends and "lifers."

  6. Wow - I love this article! I've never thought about friendships this way. Now that I think about it, it's amazing how "acquaintances" can really brighten up your day. As you mentioned, I have a lot of really close friends, but I also lose sight of the importance of casual friends. I can sometimes be a shy person, and have to really push myself to speak to others I don't know. Your post makes me want to cultivate friendships with others I don't know as well.

    As a side note, Self is my favorite magazine! I have a subscription as well (but I have to pay for it, hehe) and I love how empowering the articles are. I also love reading the fitness and health tips.

    Thanks for such an enlightening post! :)

  7. Never fear! Your friendships will grow and change, but those that are meant to will last and last. My college girlfriends are still my very best friends, but I also made some incredible and close friends in the years after college. I think, actually, that friendships are always growing and evolving. I've found that as I've grown older I have become waaaay more picky about who I cultivate a friendship with. I don't care much for "surface" friendships so having casual friends is very awkward for me. Either I want to open up to you or I don't! But that's just me. Anyways, rambling over. Thanks for the thoughtful post. You are at such an exciting time in your life. You have much to look forward to!

  8. Great article...consider myself lucky to have a few # 4's from High School and College!

  9. Wonderful post! I agree that casual friends are very important. I seem to meet this type of friend at activities such as my ballet class, or work. Don't you worry about graduating though, you will stay in touch with your closest friends, and you'll meet new people too. One of my closest friends is a girl who started at our job a week after I did. She did a reading at my wedding and I hope will be a "lifer" for me.

  10. Great article! It can be hard to balance all of the relationships in your life. And yes, leaving college and having all of your friends scatter (mine went allll over the US!) is tough, but it will make you closer when you do see each other :) True friends will stay true friends!

  11. definitely RELEVANT!! great post!

  12. Such a great post! My problem is friendship levels not matching up - someone I consider a close friend views me as a casual friend, and vice versa. I often get trapped having deep conversations with someone whom I don't feel very close to! Still, they're all important!

  13. Love the post! One of my close friends makes fun of me about how I strike up conversations with random people (I tried today to someone in our class but was shut down haha). It's great to be able to have easy friendships along with those life-long ones.

  14. Great post, friends truly are important. It's especially nice when you have all the types of friends described above.

    -Julie. littlepinkrainboots.blogspot.com

  15. I think this is such a great post! While I was reading, I began to think of which of my friends fit in which category. Since I have moved quite a bit in the past 12+ years, I have had to continually open myself up and meet new people. I think we are definitely enriched by allowing new people into our lives.

    Something tells me you will be adding to your group of friends throughout your life!

    xo Elizabeth

  16. Great post! I struggled when I came to college because although I'm pretty outgoing, I have a hard time opening myself up, so I get to the point where I know everything about my friend, but they know nothing substantial about me. I think I've made two lifers at college, and I've made a lot of casual friends and a few close acquaintances. I'm a little nervous about next year though, because my lifers and I aren't living together, and it's going to be hard not seeing them all of the time (we all live on the same hall this year).

    I'm sure you'll be adding to your group of friends next year! Anyone would be lucky to have you as a friend!

    P.S. I hope you find some relaxation and tanning time before you have to go to summer school! Have a wonderful night!

  17. Best friends are PRICELESS! I can't imagine life without them. When they are happy, I am happy. When they are sad, I am sad. Those friends are family. Loved this post.

  18. Great article. First of all, I had no idea you got a free subscription to Self for being an Aphi - that is awesome!

    I can see why each on of those four categories in so important. Everyone needs to be fulfilled and social fulfillment is huge (and helps you live longer too!)

    Thanks for sharing this!

  19. I always say that one can NEVER have too any friends. I also say that you can learn something from EVERYONE. I try to make small talk with anyone without talking their ear off or being annoying...you never know what you might find out. By doing that I have become "friends" with owners of small businesses, etc - you just never know who might touch your life and when. I so love this topic. I once heard a "friend" say that she didn't need any more friends and decided she was no longer one of my close friends.

    Anyway, I could go on and on with this topic! You will be FINE after college if you are open minded and look for friendship everywhere...which I think will be easy for you!

  20. SELF is one of my favorite mags... I remember this issue (love Kristen Bell) and article! I am lucky that most of my friends are in the same city... it can be hard to juggle school and new friends since working full time really limits quality time.

  21. I pretty much skip the close friends and go straight to my lifers for everything...my mom and my sister (mostly the hubby, except for the girlie things that you know he doesn't want to hear about (c:)...it is so hard to keep up those friendships once you get your own family that demands so much of your time. But it is definitely a trade worth making...um, this is turning into the forever rambling comment, so sorry about that! Good food for thought, though!

  22. This is such a great post and so true!! Friendships are so important. I don't know what I would do without the people in my life. Especially the lifers (my mom is my lifer too).

    Hope you are having a wonderful week, Love!

    That Girl in Pearls

  23. Great post Allie! I definitely have the same worries about separating from the college friends but if you think about it, the same thing happened in high school and then we ended up making even more friends in the next stage, college. I'm hoping this next stage brings more close friends, buddies and maybe a lifer! But I think with our extroverted personalities :) we'll be just fine!


  24. Great post, Allie. I think with today's technology, it will be easier for you to stay in contact with people. I lost contact with some of my college friends, but we have gotten back in contact through FB, etc.

    You also develop friends, and they become close based on where you are in your life. For example, I'm now close with moms who have children my children's ages.

  25. I love this article and your blog! Keep writing!


  26. My mom is definitely my #1 Lifer friend, too.. even if I don't see her often.. we typically talk almost (if not) daily. We're lucky to have such awesome mother/daughter relationships, huh?

  27. Lovely post about friends! I moved to china recently and miss my friends back home in the states. Hope to see them soon.

    Thanks for sharing :)


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