Information is shared far more selectively as responses are less predictable or desirable. Then there are the treasured women in my network with whom I share particular kinds of things, because either I know they could relate or because their perspective is very different than my own, and thus useful. Then of course there are those gals who were once-upon-a- time in my circle that made me wonder: is she a real friend?
Strong bonds between women are vitally important as we negotiate both the everyday stuff of life and the bigger challenges and choices we face. While I feel fortunate to have a range of meaningful female friendships, I’ve had my share of dysfunctional relationships too, and I have pulled the life-support cord on more than one friendship. To me, there is a one question test
to gauge whether a friendship is healthy: does she bring out the best in me? The best barometer for the health of a friendship is your own mood and behavior. If you find, like I have, that you have a female friend with whom you are short tempered, passive aggressive, unsupportive or simply uninterest- ed, it isn’t a healthy friendship and it really doesn’t matter whose “fault” it is. Cut the cord. But then there are the kinds of friends that enrich our lives in many ways, and they aren’t all the same.
As a sociologist interested in rela- tionships and identity, I have had the opportunity to interview many women about their friendships and the role they play in their sense of self. In much of my research I explore female friendships and the ways women communicate with each other— what we do and don’t say to each other. Through all of this I have come to see there are “types” of friends women often have and each type is based on specific patterns of interpersonal communication. Here are five common friend types and why we may want women who embody them in our circle: