No man is an island – people always say. True enough, we cannot live without our friends – our companions, our trusted confidantes. They are the ones we run to in times of need, the ones we laugh with in time of happiness.
While you might have many friends right now – in reality or on Facebook –it is not the quantity that matters as much as the types of friends you have in your life. This is according to Dr. Geoffrey Greif, author of the book “Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships.” In this compendium, he identifies the four types of friends that each person should have:
Considered a member of your private inner circle, a must friend is someone who you can count on when something big (even small) happens in your life. A must friend is your best friend – without him, life is less fulfilling and less fun.
In his book, Greif cites his brother Steve as an example of his ‘must friend,’ although they are family in reality. From his definition, Steve is someone he needs to call or talk to if something major happens in his life. As a must friend, he offers an ear for listening, and gives advice that Greif has not considered on his own. While the author might divulge sensitive stuff to his brother, Steve, the must friend, can assure him that he will not gossip about the personal matters they have talked about.
A trust friend is someone you feel comfortable with; someone you are happy to see and come across with. He shows integrity, and keeps everything you tell him in secrecy. He will even offer feedback, and show you that he understands where you are coming from.
Although this is the case, a trust friend is usually not a mainstay in your inner circle. He is not the one you immediately call when problems arise. However, you consider a trust friend as someone you want to get close to – if you had the opportunity or the time to do so.
In Greif’s book, he considers his friend Pub, whom he has known way back in Sunday School, as his trust friend. Although he only sees him in his poker games, given the right opportunity, Greif will not have the apprehension of sharing a personal problem with him.
Something rusty means something old – and this holds true in Greif’s definition of a rust friend. This pal is defined as someone you have known for a long time. However, he is someone you will probably not get closer to, unless a major change in interaction will happen in your life.
Greif notes that rust friends may be or may not be close to you. In fact, he points out that there are rust friends that might belong to the “Why hang out with him?” niche. Of course, Greif says that the obvious answer to this question is “I have known him for a long time.”
As for rust friends who are very close to you, he adds that the ups and downs you have shared with them can also make them your “must friends.”
He notes that rust friends are closer to the individual than his just friends, although nothing special exists in the relationship – except for the length of time they have known each other.
In his book, Greif shares thoughts about his rust friend – Crow, an antitrust lawyer, whom he has known since they were eight years old. They know each other because of their long history, and seeing him makes the author relive his days as a rowdy youth.
A person you often see – in the gym or in the coffee shop – who you perceive as an enjoyable companion. Although this is the case, a just friend is someone who you do not have any intentions to get closer with or socialize with in another context.
Greif considers his poker buddy Mike as his just friend. He has not known him long enough to be a rust friend, or well enough to be his must or just friend. Although he is an acquaintance, Greif acknowledges that he has the tendency to change the friendship status throughout the course of time.
How to Maintain Your Four Types of Friends
As it has been established, friends help you thrive in this dog-eat-dog world. But with your busy schedules, your pals might slowly drift away from sight if you do not keep them at bay. Avoid this from ever happening by following these tips on how to maintain your friends:
- Let your presence be known. Nothing beats being there for them in person. Whether it is his son’s birthday, or his mother’s funeral, showing that you have time for the highs and lows of their lives will keep your friendship in pristine condition.
- Say “I thought of you.” While this might sound cheesy – especially for males – spending a few seconds of your time by telling your buddy that you thought of him will do good for your relationship. This does not necessarily have to sound corny – something like “A visit to the school gymnasium made me reminisce about the time when we won the district title in ’90.”
- Socialize! Admit it – calling and writing letters take time – and a lot of effort. If you do not have much time to communicate with friends, then why not turn to the powerful programs that we know as social media networks? If your must, trust, rust and just friends are your contacts in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, it would not hurt if you spend some time poking them, tweeting them or posting a picture about them.
- Start a group. Do you want to spend time with your must, trust, rust and just friends all at one time? Then why not start a group where you can share topics and do activities that appeal to all of you? Doing so will help you maintain your connections. At the same time, it can help you save the time and energy needed in meeting all your pals.
Woodrow T. Wilson once said “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” As such, it is important to have these four types of friends – pals that can make your life (no matter how wretched it is) all worth the while.