By Lisa Caplan

People fit into our lives in different ways, and there are different types of friendships. If we are lucky, we will have a handful of close friends. So, what qualifies someone as a close friend? I think it is easier to look at other types of friendships first:

Let’s start with casual friendship, or more appropriately, an acquaintance of convenience. This is the person who calls only when they need something. This may occur a few times a year, but not a whole lot more than that. The person who falls into this category may be someone you work with or have gone to school with.

Next, there are acquaintances of mutual interests. It’s easy to be a friend when you have a reason to see someone regularly. For example, at your child’s sport events, school, work, yoga, or a golfing buddy. The activity is the glue that keeps your friendship going. Often when the activity ends, the friendship does too.

Finally, there is close friendship. Although there is nothing wrong with the first two friendships, a close friendship is a very special type of bond you only have with a small number of people. So, what makes a close friendship?

  • Someone you can trust to be there for you in good times and bad.
  • Someone you trust completely. Someone, who has proven that they have your back, and will not share what you have told them in confidence.
  • Someone who helps you make good decisions and is honest with you, in a healthy way, when they are concerned about what you are doing.
  • Someone who does not end your friendship when you disagree, but appreciates that you have a difference of opinion. A close friend respects your opinion.
  • Someone who stands up for you, supports you, and is loyal. A close friend can put your needs before their own if necessary.
  • Someone who is just as likely to pick up and come see you when you are in need as they would be to celebrate with you.

Traits you must have to create healthy friendships:

  • Honesty
  • Loyalty
  • Healthy boundaries
  • The ability to sometimes give more and take less
  • Confidence in yourself
  • Healthy communication skills
  • Being real
  • Having a filter
  • Being positive
  • A good self esteem

Why people are drawn to each other:

  • Common interests
  • Similar values
  • History
  • Equally needing each other
  • Similar sense of humour
  • Similar outlook on life

When looking to make new friendships, keep in mind that it is a process that takes time. You need to see how this person will fit into your life. No matter if they become an acquaintance, a friend of convenience, or over time become a close friend, all friendships are special and have a place in our lives.

For assistance, please contact the Lawyer Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling. We have a network of counselors throughout Maryland. Jim Quinn, Lawyer Assistance Director, (443) 703-3041, jim@msba.org; Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, Associate Director of the Lawyer Assistance Program, (443) 703-3042, lisa@msba.org. 24/7 Toll Free 1(888) 388-5459.

 

Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C has over 20 years experience in her field, and extensive experience working with lawyers and judges in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and trauma.