As part of my summer rediscovery (see my last post), I recently read Friendfluence by Carlin Flora.

Quick synopsis: Flora uses psychology and sociology to shed light on why we make friends, how we make them, and how their role in our lives changes throughout childhood and into adolescence and adulthood. The focus of the book ultimately is how these friendships have a monumental influence on how we act, think, and even our health and how long we live.

(As a total psychology nerd, I found this book interesting, insightful, and unique. I would highly recommend.)

One thing that caught my attention was a brief aside made by Flora. In the chapter on the benefits of friendships, she briefly mentions how there are about 8 different types of friends (including toxic ones!) and how it’s interesting to look at which kind each of your friends are as well as which you yourself are.

While this was far from the main point of the book, it made me think. Am I a Navigator, helping my friends make life decisions? Or am I a Connector, inviting friends to parties and events?

And what are my friends? As a brief, informal exercise I tried putting my friends into the categories Flora listed. One or two didn’t seem to fit into any at all, and I pondered where that left me. Did they serve a unique purpose in my life? Or were they not really friends?

While I have no concrete answers for such questions, Friendfluence has caused me to look more closely at my friendships and how they are shaping my life, positively or negatively. It also has caused me to pay better attention to my own behavior as a friend. If friends are as important as Carlin suggests, they probably deserve more than just a passing glance.

What are your thoughts? How important is friendship in your life?


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