Understanding Roles to Save Friendships


Once I defined who I was and who other people in my life were, my circle of friends became smaller, stronger and I found less chaos in my life.

I remember in High School, relationships were very black and white. Either we were friends or we weren't. Friendship in High School meant encompassing all levels of trust, communication, openness, and support. I was wrong.

I had a girlfriend from 8 p.m. Tuesday night until 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon because of "friends." I told them during second period I had a new girlfriend and not to tell anyone and by 4th period everyone knew.  Like Alanis Morissette sings "You live, you learn." 

As I got older I became more aware of friendships and the roles people played in my lives. Through constant trial and error, I've learned that everyone can't embody every role I need. Think about all the frustration you have when you need support from a friend and they don't support you they way you need. Think about a situation where you go to a friend for comfort and they end up talking about their own problems. You end up feeling like you wasted your time and you resent that friend for a bit. Although it's not necessarily their fault, it's frustrating and adds on to your already chaotic life situation.

Down the line I realized everyone doesn't play the same role in my life. Although its difficult because you want to involve your friends in all aspects of your life, you have to pick and choose who to approach based on the scenario.

These are some of the roles I've defined in my friends.

Emotional Friend

Some people can't handle emotional unrest. I used to be like this. Someone would start crying and I would just freeze because I wouldn't know what to do. Now I just hug it out and let them cry and yell. It's fine. Sometimes you just need to release emotion and this friend will gladly take the brute force of all of this.

Financial Support Friend

This is someone you can depend on if you're ever in a financial jam. Whether it's $5, $50, or $1000, this person can help you get out of a rough financial situation. Some people have busy lives and don't have time to offer but can provide love and support in other ways.

Presence Friend

This is someone who is just there when you need them. It can be anywhere from being able to watch Netflix in silence or just spending the night at your place because you want the company. Sometimes you don't want to talk, you just want the presence of love and this friend provides just that.

Drinking Friend

This friend is an unlicensed psychologist. If you tell them something is wrong, their idea is to head to a bar and talk it out. They know getting some drinks in you will relax your mind, help you open up, and get to the real cause of some of your issues. This friend stays in control of the situation always, which is important. They make sure you drink enough to feel liberated, but that you also have a revelation to get out of your funk.

Unhelpful Friend

For all the pros there is a negative. This friend really isn't that helpful. They give bad advice, turn the conversation into themselves, or just have nothing relevant to offer. I'm not saying this friend is useless on all accounts, but maybe this friend isn't the best person to go to if you need clarity or support. 

Know who to go to for what the situation calls for. Some friends can fill one role, some multiple roles, and some can fill all. You can't go to a friend who is financially burdened all the time and ask them to borrow money. Just like you can't go to a friend who loves to talk all the time and ask them to just be in your presence. 

While you learn what type of friends you have, figure out what kind of friend you are and see if there is more you can do for the people in your lives. Understanding both sides will make for better relationships with people.