From childhood to adolescence to adulthood, the friendships we make and break throughout our lives form an integral part of who we are. There are the friends who knew us when we were small, or those who stood by us through our awkward teenage years, or those who helped ground us as adults and reminded us from where we came. While friends will come and go, you’ll often find upon reflection that even those who are no longer around were there for the period in your life when you needed them to be, for one reason or another. Letting the flow of the universe bring new friends along your path for different purposes is all part of the joy of being human.
While having close friends to rely on when you need support is essential, the friends you also make while travelling or trying new hobbies can open up your perspective of the world. Even those who may have burned you badly serve a valuable purpose. These people often teach us the hard lessons in life about who to trust and make the solid trustworthy people in our lives all the more valuable. If you’re lucky enough to have one or two friends you feel are almost your soulmates, you may have met a kindred spirit or twin flame. You care so deeply for these friends and understand them so intimately you could almost be one person.
Here are some of the classic friends you’re likely to meet over your lifetime.
16 The childhood friend
You’ve known each other since you were born or for as long as you can remember. Maybe your mothers were pregnant at the same time, or you met on the first day of kindergarten and went through your schooling years like two peas in a pod. If you’re lucky enough to still be close with a childhood friend, you’ve no doubt been through your ups and downs. Growing up, you probably had periods of being close and drifting apart, but if you can say you’ve made it through the tough times, then you’ve got a friend for life. The shared history and origins you have with a childhood friend mean they know you like nobody else. They remember the terrible haircut you had when you were six, or the time you broke your wrist. Best of all they can still see the kid in you when your adult friends only see the professional businesswoman you’ve become.
15 The high school bestie
Whether you were queen bee in school or more of a wallflower, hopefully you had at least one close friend that got you through your teenage years. You might have known each other before high school but your high school years solidified your friendship. Perhaps you are no longer close, but if you were to bump into one another, reminiscing on the shenanigans you got up to together and gossiping about what your old classmates are up to is quality fun. If your high school pal remained just that and you parted ways upon graduation, you might look back and wonder how they’re getting on now. Some people appear for periods of our lives when we need them most, and when circumstances change, we need to move on. Whether your high school bestie was a rocky relationship or a solid friend, they form an integral part of your adolescent landscape.
14 The one you almost dated
Nothing’s ever happened (well, not really) but there’s definitely always been a vibe. If you’ve hesitated in pursing this friend romantically in case it ruins the friendship, your gut instincts are probably on the money. There are some friends with whom we will always have that little spark of chemistry, but not pursuing a romantic relationship can mean a lifelong friend rather than an awkward fallout. Then again, if you believe that your friendship could survive even an awkward hook-up if it went wrong, then maybe it’s time to satisfy your curiosity. The one you almost dated can hover in the peripheries for years and eventually pair up and settle down with somebody else. Perhaps they already have, in which case, it’s a possibility you’ll have to keep to yourself -- for the time being, anyway.
13 The ex you stay in touch with
Who says it’s impossible to stay friends with an ex? Perhaps he was your first love, or a high school relationship that ran it’s course and never really matured, but staying in touch with exes who mean something to us is not always a bad thing. While there’s no romance left in the relationship, this is a person for whom you obviously care deeply and want in your life -- even if you only catch up from time to time. Twenty or even thirty years down the track, the ex can still be a lifelong friend, a sounding board away from your current life, and a reminder of how far you’ve come. Lovers becoming friends is a sign that you’re both thoughtful and mature people who know where things stand (at least, we hope) and that you’ve got a deep mutual respect for one another. That is never a bad thing!
12 The mentor
Perhaps they were your high school teacher, an older cousin or aunt, or somebody your own age that happened to know a whole lot more about life than you. Mentors are actually a really important relationship to have during your developmental years. If you had somebody that wasn’t a parent who you could talk to and get advice from while you were growing up, chances are they were the kind of friend who mentored you through some of the tough moments. Looking back a few years, it can be amazing to identify the mentors who were there for us at different times, and even if you can only count one of them, your life will surely have been shaped in some way by his or her positive influence. Leading by example, giving you permission to be yourself -- this kind of friend is an invaluable one to have at some point in life.
11 The competitive one
We’ve all been in competition with another person from time to time, but when that person is a friend, the situation can be more stressful. Whether you’ve been subtly manipulated into competing with a teenage beauty queen or things got super awkward between you and your study buddy when you beat them on the last quiz, the competitive friend is a tricky one to navigate. In all likelihood, you and your competition pal are quite similar in some ways. You’ve just been put in a situation where you feel that instead of being individuals, you have to be placed in a pecking order. High school, college and workplaces are the classic places you’ll meet a competitive friend - someone who you like but also want to beat. Long term friendships with these people are unlikely unless you can walk away from the urge to win. Is the friendship more important than the prize?
10 The good vibes girl
She’s one of those people who radiates goodness and positivity wherever she goes. Never a bad thing to say about anybody, this friend is full of warmth, kind words and happy energy that seemingly has no bounds. Even when she gets down, she has a way of focusing on the good and never stays in the pits for too long. When you meet a good vibes friend, you’ll be instantly attracted to her and simultaneously want to be around her and know what it is she's got that you don’t. These people negotiate life with ease and hanging out with them is always good fun and a way to escape the serious things. If you’ve had a few good vibes friends in your time, you’ll know that the one thing they usually can’t offer you is support when life gets tough. They like to keep things light and don’t tolerate negativity.
9 The kindred spirit
Anne of Green Gables and Diana Berry, Thelma & Louise, Frodo & Sam, Naomi Watts & Nicole Kidman -- a kindred spirit is a friend that goes deep. If you’re astrologically inclined, you might find your kindred spirit is even in the stars. Whether you’re two Pisces floating down the river of life or two roaring Leos with enormous love and respect for each other, if you’ve found a kindred spirit, you’re a lucky human. When you meet a kindred spirit, you’ll soon feel something special between you and find relating to her to be natural and easy. You may feel you’ve known her your whole life or met her before and find that confiding in her takes almost no effort at all. If life takes you in different directions, the flow of the universe will be sure to bring you back together and you’ll pick up right where you left off as though no time had passed at all.
8 The travel buddy
Whether they’re from your native country or you meet them along the way on a trip, some friends synchronize with you at just the right time when you’re off on an adventure. While close friends can drive you nuts when you travel together, the people you meet off the beaten track or at your destination of choice can offer amazing companionship as you navigate the big wide world. Perhaps your day to day lives are very different -- even taking place on continents or in cultures far apart from each other -- she may be the perfect travel companion. If you decide to travel alone, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t stay that way for long. Opening yourself up to the possibilities of serendipitous encounters with people, your path is sure to cross with somebody who is both like-minded and yet refreshingly different from you.
7 The one who’s always there for you
One of the most essential friends to have is one who supports you when the going gets tough. If you find it hard to talk about your issues or express emotions about the bigger things, finding even one friend in life who is able to break through your defenses and is willing to see you through your ups and downs makes the sail a little smoother. You may have periods of closeness with many people, but knowing that there’s somebody to call when you’re in the lurch, stranded, broken-hearted or melting down is necessary for this human experience. It might be your sister, mom, or a random friend you connected with somewhere along the way that you implicitly trusted. Make sure they know they’re appreciated and don’t let them go.
6 The gym partner
You’ve been lolling on the couch like a lazy potato the entire winter and the nagging sensation that you need to get off your butt occurs to you. There’s usually a friend that comes to mind who will give you a kick where you need it. Sometimes we hate these friends for their consistent fitness levels, their commitment to the gym, their constant training and those annoying cleanses they always do, but they sure come in handy when we need to shape up. A gym partner might be a close friend or somebody you’d only call an acquaintance -- it doesn’t really matter as long as they’re ready to workout when you need it! Conversations about boxing and triathlons might flow like the first five laps of the pool before you got tired, but don’t be surprised if once you fall of the wagon, your gym partner is outrunning you around the field without a second glance.
5 The life lesson
Once or twice in your life, you’ll meet a friend who teaches you a huge lesson by betraying you. These people often come into our lives when we are at an all-time low and vulnerable to being manipulated or used by a friend who’s not really a friend. You might meet this person in therapy, or perhaps she arrives out of the blue and attaches herself to you very quickly. Whether it was shortly after you met or after years of friendship, you found that this person wasn’t who they purported to be. The lesson this person teaches us is a tough one. Perhaps she's a close friend who betrays your trust by having an affair with your partner, or a friend you go into business with who takes off with the cash. Either way, the life lesson is a wake-up call to be wise and discerning in those we allow in our inner circles.
4 The train wreck
Have you ever met somebody with whom you clicked, only to find that underneath the mask, she was a total mess? Perhaps before you realized it, you learned a lot about her life and felt you wanted to help her, but things didn’t quite go as planned. Having a friend who’s a train wreck can suck you dry. It is really hard to care about somebody who seems to be constantly struggling in life and doesn’t have the ability to set boundaries around what they ask of you. The train wreck friend is somebody who desperately needs your support and about whom you care deeply but isn’t able to respect when you need a break. You might pick her up once only to find you’ve set a precedent for coming to her rescue too often. While it is important to support friends through tough times, be sure it goes both ways.
3 The bad influence
Undoubtedly during your teenage years there was somebody who had a part to play in leading you astray. Whether their raucous party lifestyle drew you into a circle of rebellious smoking and drinking teens or they were always daring you to do things you knew you shouldn’t, the bad influence may have gotten you into some scrapes. Your bad influence pal may come in the form of a temptress -- a Bettie Paige glamour girl you were drawn to hoping a little of her charm might rub off on you -- or maybe she was a real rebel without a cause James Dean type who lived too fast and too hard and you’ve seen her pay the price down the track. If you’re on the conservative side, having a thrill-seeking friend can spice things up, but if you’re susceptible to corruption, the devil on your left shoulder may cause you more than a little grief.
2 The drinking buddy
The antithesis of the gym partner, the drinking buddy is your antidote to all things healthy. While she might not be an all-out alcoholic, this friend is the one to call when you feel like downing a few. You’ve popped champagne corks and partied together, had some wild nights throwing back shots, and spent evenings on the couch drowning your sorrows and commiserating over breakups. You might find that you have the most fabulous time together on the grog, but if you ever try to hang out without alcohol involved, things fall strangely flat. It can be difficult to keep a drinking buddy pal in your life if you decide to give up the bottle. She'll find it hard to accept that you’re not participating in the fun and probably prefer to find another companion, but for the times you need an outlet, your drinking pal will always be ready to raise a glass.
1 The one with whom you have nothing in common
You can’t remember how you met her, but it was probably while you were somewhere that you wouldn’t usually be. Meeting a friend from completely outside your regular circles can be a fantastic lesson in realizing that, as the saying goes, opposites attract. Whether she's from a different culture entirely or you’d just never cross paths before, something about the connection you make with a random girl (or guy) crossing your path unexpectedly is one of the joys of life. You might have absolutely no mutual interests but find yourself fascinated in learning about her life, or adore her wacky sense of humor despite being twenty years apart in age. Don’t question these friendships -- they are connections that will broaden your perspective and give you a break from your regular social circle. You will undoubtedly learn a thing or two about life from this friend too. Don't limit yourself.