In
her classic book, Gift
from the Sea,
Anne Morrow Lindbergh articulates the process of
gathering girlfriends. She writes:

“I
shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely
honest. I find I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that
will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being
insincere.”

In
her classic book, Gift
from the Sea,
Anne Morrow Lindbergh articulates the process of
gathering girlfriends. She writes:

“I
shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely
honest. I find I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that
will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being
insincere.”

Girlfriends
are as unique as the shells Lindbergh describes in her pages. Some have the
gift of empathy and compassion, while others challenge us in ways that lead to
growth; some friends listen, while others dole out smart advice. Women need
different kinds of friendships at different points in their lives. I have
compiled these five types of girlfriends, drawing from the examples in Robert
Wick’s book, Bounce:
Living the Resilient Life,
 and Susan Shapiro Barash’s
book, Toxic
Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships
.

1. The Cheerleader

Cheerleaders
believe in you no matter what stupid thing you have just said or done. They are
the presence on the sidelines that you need when you are floundering and unsure
of your next step. And they are there to pick you up if that next step was too
high or slippery. Without the unconditional support of my cheerleaders, I’m not
sure if I would have the strength and courage to do about 75 percent of the
things I do in a day.

2. The Confidant

If
you don’t have the time or money to go to therapy, you should definitely have a
confidant in your life, a person with whom you can confide anything and
everything. I think this type of friend is especially important during weighty
lifestyle changes – if you are going through a divorce, grieving an significant
loss, or have just started a stressful job. Finding someone who is going
through the same experience can be extremely helpful and consoling.

3. The Prophet

The
prophet can be annoying. You may be tempted to kick her out of your shell—or
life—because she raises issues you’d rather not be raised. However, because
prophets possess razor-sharp intuition and can usually see the truth a week, a
month, or two years before you can, they are important to have in your circle
of girlfriends. If your boyfriend or husband is treating you with less respect
than you deserve, she is the one keeping track of concrete examples that you
can’t deny when you rationalize his behavior. She’s a tough cookie who does not
accept excuses of any kind. The prophet may tell you to leave a toxic work
environment, even as you don’t yet have a backup. And she is like the angel
following you around all day, forcing you to be accountable with yourself and
others.

4. The Comedian

The
comedian reminds us to not take ourselves so seriously, and to add humor to
whatever situation we are fretting about. She provides the much-needed laugh
therapy during our stressful hours, and makes our day tolerable during
difficult moments, and enjoyable during ordinary time. This type of girlfriend
reminds us to always find time to laugh and to play, like we did as kids,
because having fun is just as important as solving problems.

5. The Leader

The
leader is the kind of girlfriend who gets you to commit to a book club, civic
association, or school committee. She somehow persuades you to run a marathon,
organize a work event, or coach a swim team, even though you’ve never competed.
A social butterfly, this girlfriend knows just about everyone she passes on the
street, and is happy to introduce you to the mayor and his wife. She’s an
effective networker who can help you navigate your career or social life, but
you need to exercise your boundaries because her combustible energy can be
exhausting.

This
article was originally posted on PsychCentral.

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