The 5 Types of Friends Every Woman Needs
Growing up with two older brothers, I yearned for a sister. Not quite grasping the birds-and-bees aspect of how all that baby stuff worked, I remember begging my mom for a sister. Surprisingly, she wouldn’t cave, forcing me to spend my childhood steeped in a testosterone-filled environment. (This explains why my Barbie doll’s playmates were little green Army men, but I digress.) So, I had to rely exclusively on girlfriends for the female bonding time I craved. Fortunately, I hit the jackpot — as I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the gift of friendship with some amazing women over the years.
My lifelong BFFs — the ones I’ve known since childhood — earn a well-deserved spot in what I dub my “Girlfriends Hall of Fame.” These friends have seen me at my best and my worst. They’ve nursed me through it all, from braces and bad decisions to hangovers and heartbreaks, from homesickness and morning sickness to career moves and out-of-state moves. My irreplaceable vintage friends hold the context of my life — the good, the bad and the ugly (aka my awkward teen years filled with glasses, braces, pimples, and perms). Now we’re all busy “adulting” and scattered throughout the country, but we still keep in touch with regular texts and phone calls. They are the lifeline to my past and the sanity to my present.
In honor of the month of universal love, it seems fitting to reflect on the incredible sheros who bring “girl power” to life and keep us all grounded. Some friendships span decades, strengthening over time, while others simply fizzle out like a spent sparkler. (Goodbye, friends from my toddler’s mommy-and-me gymnastics class of 2003!) But friends play different roles in our lives, giving us just what we need at different seasons of life. Unlike those unflattering one-size-fits-all beach cover-ups, friends come in different shapes and sizes, each bringing their own brand of you-gotta-love-my-quirkiness personality. In fact, every woman needs to experience the delight of these five kinds of gal pals at some point in her life.
She’ll go to her grave before she reveals your deepest secrets, which might be nothing more than your secret crush on Barack Obama. Whether you’ve confessed you wore Spanx to your high school reunion or you admitted that you’re a workaholic, this girl’s lips are sealed tighter than a celebrity prenup. Lock her in as a bestie.
“You go, girl!” is this friend’s mantra, no matter what crazy thing you tell her you’re about to do. Ditching that stable PR job to pursue a feast-or-famine freelance writing career? You go, girl! Moving 1,000 miles away from everyone you know just to “live somewhere warmer”? You go, girl! Pulling your kids out of public school to (gulp) homeschool them? You go, girl!
As a good countermeasure, it helps to have the Sage in your life at the same time as the Cheerleader. While your rah-rah friend may bolster your spirits with positivity and encouragement, she sometimes fails to see the cliff you’re about to drive off. The Sage serves as that “Caution, Curve Ahead” sign that makes you slow down for a minute before you Thelma-and-Louise your life and plunge into a really bad decision. She provides the wisdom and clear thinking you need when your head is about to explode from all that should-I-or-shouldn’t-I mind chatter. She’ll weigh the pros and cons with you — probably even make a list — so you can easily see the right choice.
This rule-breaker adds spontaneity to your life, but not in the you’ll-go-to-jail kind of way. She’s the one who breaks through glass ceilings in a male-dominated industry or busts gender stereotypes by ditching tea parties for flag football games as a kid. She’ll throw caution to the wind by booking a last-minute weekend getaway, then convince you to join her. She’s both powerful and empowering — a true gem of a friend.
This friend can find something funny in any situation — getting fired, losing your wallet, even attending a funeral. She’s not disrespectful, but she’s got a twisted way of looking at the world coupled with a whip-smart sense of humor. Sarcasm? Check. Self-deprecating? Check. She’s Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tiffany Haddish all wrapped up in one. She’ll make you laugh until soda bubbles out of your nose, which will simultaneously disgust you and send you further into a tailspin of laughter. Keep this girl on speed-dial to get you through the bumps in life.