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16 Types of Friendships, Benefits & How Many You Need to Be Happy in Life

There are many different types of friendships, and none of them look the same. While some friendships are better than others, they each serve a purpose.

types of friendships

Sometimes, we meet someone with whom we just instantly click and become the greatest of friends. Sometimes, we meet someone we think we really like only to find a reason to hate them two weeks later. It’s not uncommon. You can’t be friends with everyone, but all types of friendships have been instrumental in shaping who you are today.

What does friendship really mean?

Friendship is a relationship. Some are good. Some are bad. Some might be a little questionable. [Read: Fake friends – 42 signs & ways to tell them apart from real friends who care]

Regardless, a friendship is usually founded on some type of mutual affection. True friendships carry that affection and build a strong foundation out of respect, empathy, and trust. These types of friendships enhance our lives. They yield support and care while teaching us how to support and care for others.

Friendships are heavily valued relationships that we develop with people whom we share a common ground with. We relate to one another and rely on each other for our social well-being.

Our friends are the most important things in our adolescence. They’re who we go to with the good and the bad. They’re where we develop our confidence and worth and how we learn about our sense of belonging.

Mental health benefits of friendships

Healthy types of friendships have numerous benefits for our mental health.

Not only are they the basis of how we develop as younger people, but studies have shown that good and healthy social lives are directly linked to living longer because of the reduction of stress and loneliness. [Read: When & how to end a friendship if they’re toxic & holding you back]

1. Reduced stress

Having good and healthy friendships is the best way to diminish stress. Our friends are instrumental in keeping us grounded. They help us see things in different ways and are the perfect buffers against stress.

If we have good friendships, we’re more likely to seek healthier ways to relieve the stress we have, even if it’s just talking it out with a friend.

But healthy friendships have been shown to reduce the amount that we feel stress in the first place due to the fact that our overall well-being is in better shape than it would have been otherwise.

2. Boosted happiness

Fostering friendships is worthwhile work. [Read: How to be a good friend – 49 traits & friend codes that define a real pal]

Having close bonds and sharing parts of ourselves with someone else gives us a sense of purpose and increases our happiness.

They reduce our stress, help us effectively handle our worries and woes, and give us support. Having someone that can do all of those things for us is extremely beneficial for our general outlook.

3. Decreased loneliness

If you have true friendships, you’ll rarely feel lonely. Even if you’re not with your friends, the effects of their love and support will linger, making you feel less lonely.

Friends teach you how to accept and give companionship and caring. They give you a sense of belonging.

The company you keep is very important

If you surround yourself with happy and optimistic people, you’re more prone to end up that way. Their energy is contagious. [Read: How to surround yourself with positive people – 20 truths & ways]

On the contrary, if you’re always surrounded by fake and judgmental people, you’ll end up that way instead. Their negative ways will seep into your life, and you’ll be stuck like them. Even if you don’t turn into one of them, you’ll be an eternally unhappy person because of how toxic they are.

The people you’re around all the time play a huge part in shaping who you are. If they’re ambitious, you’ll be ambitious. If they’re rude, you’ll be rude.

Choose your friends wisely, and make sure you’re spending time with people who are genuinely good. [Read: How to be funny and make people love your company]

The main types of friendships

And if you haven’t had these friendships before, you might have them down the line. Although they may not have all ended pleasantly, you can’t deny that each of them played a role in your life.

1. The friendship of mutual benefit

This is the type of friendship where you’re both obviously only friends with each other for very specific reasons.

You like their brother, and they like the way you can get them into any club.

You’re using one another for reasons other than friendship. [Read: Obvious ways to tell if he’s using you]

2. The one-sided friendship

On the flip side, you may end up in friendships where the other person is only hanging out with you for a reason. You have something they want, and they befriend you thinking they’ll get it.

Another version of the one-sided friendship is when only one of you is putting forth any effort. You do all the planning and caring and supporting while the “friend” sits back and takes it all, only caring about themselves. [Read: 15 clear signs it’s time to cut a one-sided friendship loose]

These are both crap friendships that will deplete you very quickly.

3. The bandwagon friendship

All of your friends are friends with others, so you befriend them too, even if you might not even like them that much.

You end up around someone so many times that you both just kind of shrug and go with it and call yourself friends. You generally only hang out as part of a group and might not even know how to behave if it were just the two of you, but these friends are integral parts of your social circle.

4. The bitch and moan friendship

We’ve all got that one friend who serves only as our vent. We basically only go to them to bitch about the things in our lives, and they do the same in return. It’s kind of like a mutual understanding of being each other’s stress relief. [Read: How to reduce stress – 17 fastest hacks to a calmer & happier life]

However, you don’t really go out and have fun together like you would in other friendships.

5. Their home is your home friendship

You’ve been such good friends for so long that you share a maximum level of comfort. Your homes are basically each other’s homes.

You can walk in, open the fridge, and start chowing down on their food as if it was your own. You know how to operate their remote and your phone automatically connects to their wi-fi.

6. The rich friend friendship

We all probably end up befriending a rich person at some point in our lives. This type of friendship can be difficult because you don’t always relate to one another.

If you’re not wealthy, but they have all this money to throw around, it can cause resentment. Maybe you can’t afford to do all of the things that they want to do. This is usually why wealthier people tend to stick with other rich folks. [Read: Sneaky signs someone is a definite gold digger]

7. The “nothing’s changed” friendship

These are the types of people you can go months and months without seeing and still act as if nothing has changed whenever you get together.

You’re able to pick your friendship up right where it left off. It’s easy and comfortable, and there’s no ill will between either of you. You just get each other.

8. The “I need you” friendship

These types of friends don’t just want one specific thing from you. They want everything from you. Their reasons for reaching out are always tied to them wanting something from you. It’s annoying, but we’ve all been there. [Read: Types of toxic friends you need to avoid]

They’ll call you one day because they heard that your place of employment is hiring, and they want you to talk to your boss. You might not hear from them for two months, and they’ll call to see if you can dog-sit while they go out of town.

9. The family-friends friendship

This is the type of friendship where your families have been friends for so long that you’re kind of friends by extension. It’s not that you dislike them, but you don’t have much in common. It’s more of a forced friendship. You don’t care if they’re around, but you wouldn’t mind if they weren’t there.

10. Work friendships

We all have those friends with whom we’re only friends within the workplace. You don’t talk to them outside of work, but the second you see you’re working together, your day is better.

This is really common because you have something very specific to bond over at work. They can understand your work qualms in a way your other friends can’t. They can validate your concerns and empathize with your struggles because of your common ground. [Read: Tips to be good friends with your coworkers]

11. The real friendship

You know if you’ve had this friendship when you consider someone to be more like family than a friend. They’ve been with you since day one, and they’ve always had your back.

Regardless of what’s happened, you both remain loyal and loving toward one another. You put in equal amounts of effort and feel like you always have someone in your corner.

12. The weird friendship

This is a friendship that nobody would anticipate. This person is your polar opposite, and the two of you are not a cookie-cutter pair. [Read: Partner in crime – what it is & 31 signs you have this friend in your life]

Maybe you’re extremely preppy, but they’re unflinchingly skaterish. You’re a rule follower, but they’re a risk taker. You’re a little too right-wing, but they’re a little too left-wing.

This is an awesome friendship if you can manage it properly. Keeping an open mind and having mutual respect is key. You should be able to challenge each other and have spirited conversations that never lose civility.

13. The social media friendship

Social media friendships are kind of situational friendships. You bond over something via social media, and an online friendship blossoms from there. [Read: Social media and relationships – the good, the bad, & the ugly]

You never socialize in person, however, and the friendship is maintained entirely online. You communicate regularly via comments and messages instead of over coffee or dinner. This is a perfectly legitimate type of friendship if you and your friend have a strong emotional bond.

Why do we need different types of friendships?

Having different types of friendships really rounds us out as people. Being able to pull from a diverse group of friends gives us diverse experiences.

It’s honestly unlikely that one person can fill each of your social and emotional needs, so having a number of closer friends can really help you to make sure that you’re getting the best from each relationship.

Having different types of people in our lives also broadens our sense of self, opens our minds, and makes us more accepting. [Read: How to get to know someone – 18 ways to open up & make true friends]

Multiple healthy friendships expand our knowledge and teach us how to nurture and care for more than one type of person. These friendships teach us empathy, support, and understanding.

Do you need one of each of the types of friendships?

Absolutely not. It’s important to have a variety of different types of friendships, but strictly having one of each isn’t right for everybody.

Some people would feel utterly overwhelmed and depleted by calling thirteen different people friends, so having one of each of the listed types would be the exact opposite of beneficial for them.

You need to figure out what’s right for you and make sure that you feel that your friendships are balanced, colorful, and representative of what you need. [Read: Codependent friendship – the bad signs & why it’s unhealthy for you]

How many friends do you need?

There’s no hard rule about how many friendships you should have, and it varies greatly from person to person.

Someone might feel perfectly fulfilled and whole with a few good friends when it takes someone else having three times as many to fill the void.

The important thing is you feel that all of your social needs are being met. You need to feel fulfilled by your communications and believe that you have enough people in your circle to share all of the things you wish to share.

Can one friend fill all of these roles?

It’s definitely possible for one person to overlap a couple of different categories, but it’d definitely be odd if the same person was all of these things for you.

Your weird friend and best friend could easily be the same person. Maybe your work friend is also your bitch and moan friend. One person can fill more than one role, and you can certainly have more than one of each type.

In addition, the biggest benefits come from having multiple friends rather than just one. Relying on only one friend doesn’t allow you to express all of the different sides of yourself and can really put you in a box, whereas having a group of different friends means that you have a variety of outlets.

[Read: How to know when to end a friendship]

Having your own little community of different types of friendships is good for you in more ways than one. Find out what you need, what you have, and what you might be lacking so that you can fulfill your social needs the right way.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...