The Circle of Friends-Part I

Posted on February 22, 2013

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There is an activity I do with clients who are struggling with their friendships. It’s called the Circle of Friends. The first step is get some definitions and some concepts straight about your expectations of your friends, because usually your disappointment comes from categorizing people incorrectly.

A healthy, solid social life for a woman will include a small inner circle of friends (with probably one woman in the inner circle being her best friend), several good friends and many good acquaintances. 

Your Best Friend is a person you deeply trust, who has been with you through some of your life’s ups and downs and who continues to be there for you in good and bad. This person is not perfect. This person may disappoint you sometimes. This person may, on rare occasion, say or do things that hurt, annoy or frustrate you and that’s okay. Some woman think a BFF means that there will never be anything negative in the relationship (no arguments, no conflicts, no bad feelings ever) but that’s just not realistic. This is human love we’re talking about, and true human love has both positive and negative elements. 

Your BFF is reliable, responsible with your feelings and there for you. She’s a shoulder to cry on when things go wrong and she’s a person who will celebrate your successes when things go right. It may take years to find and build this kind of relationship. But you know that, no matter what, she is there for you and that’s what’s most important. She’s the one who knows the most about you and what’s going on in your inner and outer life. She’s probably the friend with whom you have the most contact and with whom you hang out with the most (but that’s not necessarily always the case). 

Your Inner Circle Friends are the people who are great friends to you, who are (like your BFF) reliable, responsible with your feelings and there for you in good and bad. But because of the limitations of time and energy, these friends may not be in touch with you as often as your best friend.  You share your life’s challenges and successes with them, but may not share as much with them as your would with your best friend. These relationships take some time (ie: years) to develop because of the level of trust involved.

Your Good Friends are people whom you hang out with often (or wish you could hang out with often), who love you and whom you love, and who will help you when you need it. They may not know all of your secrets, you may not text or call them every week, but they know who you are and your truly enjoy their company. You share personal details with these friends, but the level of intimacy isn’t as deep as the one you have with your Inner Circle friends.These are the friends you confide in about your goal to get pregnant, whereas your Inner Circle friends will know about your miscarriages, your struggles with infertility and your fears about becoming a mom. See the distinction? Even with women I’ve had instant chemistry and connection with, I don’t think I could honestly call someone a good friend unless I’d been friends with her for at least 6 months.

Everyone else is either a really good acquaintance or just an acquaintance. Acquaintances write and comment on your FB page, may or may not come to your parties, will go out for a drink with your after work to bitch about the boss and are generally people you like and who like you. These are not the people you’d call at 3am when a crisis hits; these are not the people you share your deepest secrets and fears with; these are not the people you can rely on to help you move but they are fun to joke around with, get dinner with, go to spin class with. 

My next post will explain the second part of this coaching tool. 

Maybe, as you think about your life and your friendships, you’ll realize (as most of my clients do) that the reason they are unhappy with their friendships is because they are expecting good acquaintances to do the job of good friends or even inner circle friends. Truly great friendships take time; they often take years to build.

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