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!