By Andreas N. Bjørndal
There are different levels and kinds of friendship. I would like to share a few observations from life and clinical practice. I have also organized them according to archetypical qualities.
Friends since childhood
Have you noticed those long-time friends that people have known since kindergarten or preliminary school? They are like brothers and sisters, they just belong to your life. They linger and survive despite long breaks or living in different countries for extended periods. When they reunite the deep childhood roots connect them in a way similar to a brother or sister you had not seen for years.
From the outside people can really wonder how these two can relate at all, they seem so different, and most likely if they met for the first time today, they would not engage in a friendship.
These friends feel like coming back to the house they grew up in, the home of their childhood. They represent home, childhood, and unconditional acceptance.
Pro and cons:
These are reliable friends and always there, but they might represent a regression to the past more than stimulating further development. The best about them is that they represent childhood and home in a way that gives you peace and rest of mind.
The explorer friend
Some friends spend their time together jogging, biking, climbing mountains, or watching football or other sports. They might go to a club or pub, or spend a weekend in a cottage. It seems to be a factor of restlessness that needs activity in these friendships. These mates are similar to the childhood friend but are often people you meet in secondary school, college, or at work. These relations are often based on a common interest, activity, or subject. They can spend hours discussing the scores and dates of their subject. It is like they are on the go walking about in nature or in their minds sharing experiences or facts.
Pro and cons:
These friends keep you young and active but it might be superficial or limited to a small area of life. They can challenge a relationship in the sense that some tend to attend more to their mates than their partners. Like childhood friends, these relations can last throughout life.
The party friend
The party or dinner friends are people you hardly meet except for special occasions, specific days of the year, like birthdays, new years, national days and similar. These friendships seem colored by the party mode. It is all about nice food, fancy clothes, perfume, jewelry, etc. The party friend is almost always enjoyed with your partner, boy- or girlfriend, while the explorer friend often competes with the time spent with your partner.
Pro and cons
Often these relations are so much about niceness and having a good time that they do not endure much disagreement or challenges, but they nurture you with love and care. They also serve to enrich your relationship with nice friends and double dates.
Men and women
Men seem to tend more towards the explorer friend mode and women more towards the party friend mode when they gather with their guys or girls friends.
The “want to be like” friend
Some people are people you regard as role models as somebody that has knowledge, competencies, or personal qualities you would like to have or cultivate yourself. If this is mutual it can give a very nourishing, stimulating, inspiring, and supportive relationship on equal terms and of long-standing.
Pros and cons
When there is an imbalance in the relationship one needs to be admired, approved, the center of attention, while the other will always be in the shadow directly or indirectly. One might end up as a wannabe the other the boss of the relation. You either use your friend to shine more or you are in the shadow of your famous admired friend. Having a narcissist in your life is similar to always being in the shadow.
The enemy friend
Some relations are full of quarrels and conflict, but despite the war, they are bonded together and the friendship is reactivated again and again. These relations are like rollercoasters. It can be amongst siblings, it can be seen in certain couples that break up again and again, but find back due to a strong attraction. These are couple that starts to quarrel during lovemaking or start to make love during a quarrel. These people enjoy quarreling together at the least excuse.
Pros and cons
The good thing about these relationships is that they can make you strong, independent, and self-assertive. They can let the steam out. On the other side, they might be very draining and exhaust you completely.
The group friend
For some people, the group they belong to is their best friend. They do not have many personal friends if any and they might be very engaged in a sports team, a religious or spiritual group that is covering most of the needs of a friendship. They share meals, songs, rituals, activities some of these people are hardly ever alone and spend most of their life with the group they belong to.
Pros and cons
For some people, this is what saves them from being lonely, and friendless. It might be an escape from self-realization or learning to become self-assertive. For others, this helps them transcend the limitations of the individual and go up into a higher and bigger holon. Singing in a group or other group activities can lift you up and inspire you in a unique way.
There are some relations where it seems like one part takes the role of a parent and the other stays like a child. The parent has the answers, takes decisions, and comes with suggestions and regulations, and rules. The child is dependent and needs support and guidance.
Pros and cons
The child part of the relations might never grow up or might get the support and time needed to grow up. That might end up challenging the relation. The grown-up part of the relationship might need to get in touch with their own needs and inner child and might learn more about these aspects of life from the child part of the relation, but they might also end up with a lot of responsibility.