Edna Buchnan, a famous American author of crime mystery novels once said, “Friends are the family we get to choose for ourselves.” Indeed, friends are just as important as family members for many of us, and because we can choose them, they may even matter more than some of our relations. That is why we find ourselves choosing our ‘family’ carefully, collectively and timely. Deep in our hearts, we hope that great friends will help us build a happy and full life or, at least, will be our shelter from the reality of this world. Whether it is a girls’ night out, a quick coffee date, or a deep phone call, these little things are associated with our friends; they keep us sane. MAIN CLAIM: We may find three different types of friends depending on the roles they play in our lives: the influencer, the long-distance-bestie, and the group guardian.

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To begin with, some friends can be best defined by the power of influence they have on us. Like wolves in sheep’s clothing, some friends can lead us in a wrong direction. You may discover that among your friends there are manipulators, persuaders, seducers, inducers, urgers, prompters, or impactors, all of them meaning the same thing. The hard truth is that these people do not typically have your best interest in mind. At the same time, they often facilitate our personal growth by pushing and prying us from our comfort zones. This category of friends can be referred to as ‘influencers’. It includes some of the most fun-loving, outgoing, witty, easy-going people. Having little to no responsibility, such people usually handle their money poorly. That is why many will find these influencers dangerous and frivolous. At the same time, if you correctly identify the role these people play in your life, you may still enjoy their company. For example, exhausted after a long working week, you may wish meet with influencers somewhere at a bar or a night club, since these people are a really good company for a girls’ night out. Their fun is flowing like a river and flooding everything around including thoughts, actions, and words; it embraces everyone at a hen party and throws them high up. Yet, when reality hits, these powerhouses of the dark usually flee. They are good company for parties, but not the ones you might want by your side when your whole world starts crashing down.

If you compare this category of friends to the influencer, you will find out that it is quite the opposite. Even though she lives thousands of miles away from you, all you have to do is to give her a ring and wait till she runs to you like the wind. Locking away secrets and securing confidential insight, this loyal friend, a mother of advice, always picks up the phone and invites you to share with her all your dramas. She can listen to your most unusual thoughts and remain loyal to you in your most difficult situations. Guiding you in the right direction, this person is someone who will stand by you whatever happens. Indeed, your cordless conversations may be only occasional, but this bond is unbreakable. Friendship with your long-distance bestie is really God’s blessing. It is a delicate flower, needing time, effort, and devotion, so that it will bloom into the utmost rewarding relationship.

Equally important is the type of friend that can be described as a ‘mom friend’ or ‘group guardian.’ This friend is always in charge of the ditzy, disorganized, and drunken dummies on your ladies’ night out. Rarely consuming alcohol, she takes on the personality of a stiff, alert, and mother-like figure. Having assigned herself to the task of watching over the disoriented, this friend enjoys her role. It seems that “better safe than sorry” are her words to live by. We may take advantage of this faithful backer on our fuzziest nights out, but sometimes we may secretly wish that she would let us loose. At any rate, the affiliation between you and her is a bolder of trust, support, and informative counsel. The foundation of your friendship is your respect of the group guardian’s judgment, maturity, and intelligence.

Even though our friends differ by the roles they play in our lives, every category is important. Influencers are the buddies to drag you around all night clubs in a city while group guardians are friends who will make sure your return home safe and sound. The long-distance bestie, in her turn, turns out the most significant type friend, since it is a person you can rely on virtually in any situation. Just like in our families, friends fill the roles we prepare for them depending on our needs and our understanding of friendship. Meanwhile, we also fill up certain roles in the lives of our friends. It does not mean that we should always live up to our mates’ expectations, but it probably means that we should check with ourselves what we can do for this or that person and invest efforts in helping her get by the best she can. Therefore, regardless of the role our friends play in our life, regardless of the distances that may separate us, and regardless of any differences between them and us, our friends make up a crucial part of our everyday existence and without this ‘family’ our lives would have been incomplete.