In a world where it’s considered perfectly acceptable to have several hundred ‘friends’ on Facebook, it is more important than ever that we nurture the real friendships that matter to us.
Meaningful friendships enrich our lives while ‘toxic’ acquaintances pollute them in equal measure. But when that toxicity masquerades behind a façade of friendship, it can be difficult to pinpoint.
To test whether a friendship is healthy and therefore worth perpetuating, sociologist, author and HuffPost blogger, Patricia Leavy, suggests asking one simple question: “Does she bring out the best in me?”
“The best barometer for the health of a friendship is your own mood and behaviour. If you find, like I have, that you have a female friend with whom you are short-tempered, passive-aggressive, unsupportive or simply uninterested, it isn’t a healthy friendship and it really doesn’t matter whose ‘fault’ it is. Cut the cord,” she says.
After a real-life friendship cull you are left with the friends who bring meaning to your life but that’s not to say they all fulfill the same role. Through extensive interviews with many women on the subject of friendship, Leavy concludes that there are a number of common “types” of friends that women have, each based on a different pattern of communication – and each valuable in their own way.
Do these sound familiar? Which one are you?
Springboards: The friends you can bounce ideas off.
Mirrors: The friends that know us better than ourselves.
Safety Nets: The friends that always say the right thing to cheer us up.
Tough Love: The cruel-to-be-kind friend.
Mutual Silence Is Kindness: The friend with whom you can sit in comfortable silence.
Whether it’s with a “mirror” friend or a “springboard”, there are certain intrinsic qualities that transcend all true friendships. How many of these do you practice?