I have recently thought a lot about the friendships I have, which has led me to write a few blogs on the topic of friendships lately. This blog is also on the topic of friendships, and will discuss having a variety of friendships. Having a variety of friendships can come in different forms, and I will talk about this in more detail in this blog post.
There are different types of friendships that you can have, and I personally like to consider it as 4 main categories of friendships, where a friend can be in more than one category. The first category are friends that you can trust to open up to about things that are quite personal to you, such as any personal challenges or achievements. You are likely to have deep and meaningful conversations with these types of friends, but you may not have much in common, such as similar hobbies. The second category are friends that actively motivate you to do well and be the best version of yourself, and you would do the same for them. This can sometimes be driven by being in similar stages of life (e.g. same year at university), and helping and supporting each other with that stage of life. The third are friends that you can have fun with and do social plans with. These are generally friends that you would go on nights out or arrange a holiday with. The fourth category are friends where you have one particular thing in common with. This could be being in the same job, the same church, or even the same badminton club, and the friendship is driven by this. Note that these categories are by no means set in stone and you may think of friendships completely differently.
The good thing about having friendships from all four categories that I described above is that each category has different benefits. For example, the friends that you can have fun with can help improve your work life balance in ensuring that you have a good number and variety of social plans. If your friendship circle predominantly falls into one category then although you experience the benefits that come with that category, you can miss the good things that come with having friends from the other categories. However, it isn’t as simple as saying that you should have a 25% split for each category when it comes to your friendship circle. Some people may prefer to have slightly more friends that help motivate them, whereas others may want more friends that they can have fun with. Everyone is different and has different circumstances, so there is no one size fits all.
Some people think about variety of friendships as having friends with a variety of personalities. One example is that some friends may be more extroverted than others. Another example is that some friends may like more spontaneous plans whereas others prefer to plan things in advance. When I think about the advantages of having friends with a variety of personalities, two main benefits come in mind. Firstly, if you have friends with different personalities then it means that you can’t treat every friendship in the same way, and you have to be adaptable. For example, when it comes to organising social plans, the way you would go about arranging plans with friends that are more spontaneous would be different to friends that prefer things planned in advance. Being able to be adaptable is a useful to have. Another benefit of having friends with a variety of personalities is that different personalities inevitably lead to different views and perspectives. Having exposure to a range of views and perspectives, some which may be different to your own, is great for personal development and learning from other people.
Another way you can think about variety of friendships is by considering both friendship groups and one-on-one friendships. The advantage of having friendship groups is that it is generally easier to do a variety of social stuff with a group of friends, such as going to the cinema, playing sports such as badminton or squash, or going on a holiday. On the other hand, the advantage of having one-on-one friendships is that it is generally easier to have more personal and meaningful conversations and therefore form stronger bonds with these types of friends. In my opinion, it is beneficial to have both one-on-one friendships and friendship groups, as both types of friendships have different advantages and not all of these advantages overlap. However, I do think that there can be a preference on whether you enjoy friendship groups or one-on-one friendships more. For example, some people want a busy social life that consists of a variety of social stuff, and therefore they may want to be part of multiple friendship groups in order to have the busy social life that they crave.
When it comes to my own friendships, I personally feel that I currently have a good variety of friendships, and that having this variety has benefitted my wellbeing and happiness. It is for this reason why I consider the quantity of friends to be important in addition to the quality of friends. Having a good number of friends in your friendship circle (i.e. quantity) is more likely to result in having a good variety of friendships, and it is also likely to result in having high quality friendships within the friendship circle. Therefore, although I do agree that quality is better than quantity when it comes to friendships, I wouldn’t neglect the importance of having a good number and variety of friendships.