Sometimes I wonder…what kind of relationship needs to be established before two people become “friends”? Is a friend someone you’ve met for lunch a few times? Someone you’ve sat with for coffee? Is a friend someone with whom you’ve run errands or seen a movie? What if you meet people easily and feel comfortable around people quickly, are all those new people your friends? I think a friend can be any person that you enjoy, who also enjoys you. But, I don’t think that every friend is the same. I find that friendships fall on a continuum ranging from “Seed” to “Gut”, as follows:
A “Seed” friend is a new person you’ve met that you like. You have something in common with this person and want to get together with them again for a play date or latte’. You are hopeful your Seed friendship will continue to grow.
A “Fun” friend is someone you know pretty well. You see this person around town and at community events. You look for them in a crowd. You occasionally get together for drinks or dinner and will call them if your child needs a ride to baseball or tennis. Your kids spend time at each other’s houses. You open up a little to the Fun friend, about likes and dislikes, opinions, and ideas about shared interests. You feel good about your Fun friendships.
A “Safe” friend is someone you trust. You’re less careful about what you say with this friend. You run errands, see movies, shop, laugh, giggle, cry, and complain together. You hang out on weekends, cook out, and have drinks frequently; sometimes planned, sometimes spontaneously. You begin to share more personal thoughts and stories. You ask more questions and make a real effort to get to know your Safe friends.
A “Deep” friend is the friend who is there for you when you need them. This is the person who magically appears when your grandmother passes away, your child gets hurt, or you get sick. This friend makes you meals, helps you heal, and helps you grow. You do all the fun stuff with this friend, but also share your soul with them. They encourage you to follow your dreams and seek out what you need. They support you and are honest with you. The Deep friend knows how you think and what you like. They know the good side of you…and the bad, and they love you anyway. You have a history with this friend, and it binds you forever. Sometimes you go for months – or even years – without talking to this friend, and when you do touch base with them, it’s the same comfortable relationship it has always been.
A “Gut” friend is the friend of all friends. Some of us will never know this kind of friendship. The Gut friend is able to put aside their own venue in support of yours. They are not only there to love and support you when you need it, when things are hard for you, but they’re also there when everything is perfect in your life. This is the friend who can honestly be happy for you whenever you are happy. When you lose weight, win big at the casino, get a brand new car, achieve a promotion, find a great deal on shoes…etc, they are able to put aside feeling of competition, judgment, and comparison and genuinely celebrate in your successes. Even if your child beats out their child for class president, the Gut friends shares your joy. You don’t worry about anything you say or do with a Gut friend because they love and cherish you for exactly who you are, and accept where you are in your life journey. You can never brag to a Gut friend because no matter what you say, they would never perceive your comments in that way. Gut friends are unique. I think all of us strive to be, as well as to have, a gut friend, and a lucky few of us will achieve it.
I believe that all friendships change over time. Some friends come into our lives and stay forever, while others, equal in value, wither and die. Well, I don’t know if I can really say “die”, because the lessons they teach may remain with us, even as their friendship wanders. And, as our friendships change, they move along the continuum, down and up and down again. I also believe that all of our friends will support us, in some capacity, when things go wrong; but only the Gut friend will be there – really be there – when things go right!