All Types of Friends Come With Benefits
Types of Friendship
There are a myriad of means to develop friendships and the types of benefits these friends contribute to our lives is in direct proportion to the amount of giving we decide to dedicate to that particular relationship. Growing up, we generally find friends through school. When we graduate, we continue making friends through work. We begin hobbies that lead us to more friendships. In volunteering, we spend time passionately giving and make even more friends through charity work. It seems there may be no end to the avenues of developing friendships. However, there are a variety of types of friends and nowhere does this become more apparent than through social media, as we click and select just the kind of friend our "friend" is. Despite this internet assistance, there still remains some ambiguity when it comes to the nature of defining some friendships, particularly when we are just navigating the beginning of the friendship.
Let's explore the main types of friendships:
- social friends
- true friends
- best friends
- friends with benefits
While the friendship may have benefits that are appealing, the ultimate purpose of developing a friendship should never be the benefit involved, but rather the friend. A true friend brings the qualities to the friendship to the relationship: caring, listening, loyalty, respect, sympathy, empathy, trust, honesty. A key component of friendship is reciprocity. You are giving back at least as much as you are receiving from the friendship.
What Kind of Friend Are You?
The give and take in any relationship allows for a balance between the two individuals. When this balance is upset or challenged, this usually doesn't result in a mutually beneficial friendship. So, examining your own contribution and patience in a friendship will help you to see where you may go astray in the development of friendships.
This person is someone you slightly know. The barista you say hello to three times a week is an acquaintance. Your friend's boyfriend, who waves to you from the living room sofa and who you see about once a month while picking your friend up for lunch, is an acquaintance. Your priest or pastor, that guy who talks to about four hundred parishioners at the same time each Sunday but doesn't know your name or come to your home for dinner, is an acquaintance. The nature of this relationship is a polite and cordial friendship and sometimes includes a slight amount of witty banter and short conversations. You typically see the acquaintance because you have to in an effort to accomplish something else - not because you chose to. The benefit of the acquaintance is slight but this relationship always holds the potential to develop into a full friendship, if both parties are willing.
Some friends are strictly for socializing with. Often, you meet this friend at work or at a place you are working unpaid, such as in volunteering. You usually don't hang out with this friend at your home or theirs. You will have lengthy but lighthearted conversations with this person. You will see this friend at the bar, the coffee house, for shopping, for the poker nights, for the sporting event or that concert you have been waiting to come to town for six months. The social friend is fun and you feel fun with this friend, too. Hanging out with the social friend is like bumping up your order of coffee to an Americano... a little bit more than you get with an acquaintance but not the friend who will rescue you at 1am after your house burned down. This friend offers diversion from your life and gives you the feeling of being uplifted after you have spent time together. If this friend is of the opposite sex, it's sometimes easy to slip into a friends-with-benefits arrangement, if there's a sexual energy between you. This friend sometimes has the potential of becoming a true friend, as well. Other times, the social friend is never more than that - just that fun girl that sings karaoke with you on Wednesday nights.
Now, this amigo is a unique development. This friend offers you the truth and doesn't feel the need to be quite as polite as the acquaintance or social friend. While her wall is lowered quite a bit from the acquaintance or social friend, it's still showing and it's not completely down. The true friend can speak his mind freely and it's okay, even if you don't always agree. The same is true for you. This is the type of friendship that can benefit you by introducing you to other friends that might be mutually satisfying as well. In this type of friendship, you might connect each other with work colleagues or job leads that would assist your career or with potential mates that might be marriage material. The true friend is not your best friend but is a close friend. He offers you the deeper satisfaction of friendship, while still retaining a slight hint of politeness. For example, if you fight with this friend over politics, at some point you will both politely decline to continue the debate instead of telling the other person they are a complete idiot and walking off in a huff. Here, again, the true friend, can also become a friend with benefits.
The best friend (bff) is more of a rarity. A best friend develops when you have a friendship that is almost romantic in nature but there is not a sexual attraction connected to it. While typically same gender, there are many opposite gender bffs. However, there is always a sexual element to the opposite gender bff. This sexual tension is either stifled, ignored, or developed into a friendship with benefits. The best friend feels almost as close to you as a family member. The best friend is your confidant and ally. The best friend supports your efforts and holds you up when life has dealt you a blow. The best friend will defend you. The best friend is the one you call when you are arrested for public intoxication and need someone to get you out of jail... stat! You have a natural ease of the relationship that allows you to let your walls and guard down. You don't have a wall up with your best friends. You can tell this friend anything and it's okay. Well, the other person might be upset for a short while but it's not a friendship-killer. You feel safe in telling this person what's really in your heart - even if what's in your heart is the she should dump the loser she's in love with because he hit on you last night!
Friends With Benefits
The definition of the friend with benefits is a kind of friend with whom you have noncommital, outside the relationship sex. Recent movies such as Friends With Benefits or No Strings Attached have highlighted the possible pitfalls of this kind of friendship. However, these type of friendships can exist without a love-connection. This type of friendship is not to be confused with the casual sex hook-up or one-night-stand (where you never see the other person again). It is not an affair. As many contend, this type of friendship is not for everyone since, if the friendship continues too long, at least one of the parties develops an emotional attachment or even falls in love, thereby creating the type of drama that this very type of relationship is meant to avoid. This kind of friendship generally does not result in something more serious but it is not a rule. This kind of friendship can occasionally result in a full-fledged relationship where both people are happily committed to each other. While there are pitfalls, this type of friendship may be very gratifying to both individuals involved.
How to Develop The Friendship
The old saying, "It takes two to tango," is still true. You are only able to take the type of friendship that you have with someone to another level, if the other party is willing. You can give some suggestions, indicators, or types of invitations that would evolve the relationship but if the other person is not interested in more than what you two have, she will find ways to turn you down nicely... over and over again. If the feeling is mild or marginal for someone, they will spend less time with you. If the other person likes spending time with you, increased time spent together can bring you two into a closer friendship. When two friends want to spend more time together, they will. The good news is that most friends do not have an endless supply of friends that keeps them from developing more friendships. If you and your friend have shared common interests, then there is a basis for that friendship to grow.
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© 2013 Li Galo