Like a fish needs water to survive, we fellow human beings need healthy social connections to thrive and live our best lives. Friendship can be a great source of comfort and can also cause frustration and pain when expectations are skewed and misaligned. An inspirational pastor and entrepreneur named T.D. Jakes outlines three types of friendships. These friendship types are confidants, constituents and comrades. The information below is a summary of his talking points.
Confidants are described as friends who are there for you regardless of the situation. They love you unconditionally. You can be yourself and do not have to put on a “show” to impress them. They are the type of friend that will bail you out of jail and keep silent to protect your integrity. Confidants allow you to confide in them, support your dreams and are connected to you. These friends will not judge and will be honest with you. They will be a constant in your life and will not leave in difficult circumstances. If you have one or two of these confidants, you are fortunate.
Constituents are not into you but into your mission or cause. If they meet someone who can further their own cause or goals, they will leave you. Many confuse their confidants with constituents and are perplexed when a friendship ends because you both had so much in common. However, constituents will only maintain a friendship when you are able to meet their needs and will abandon you if your interest changes from what they were initially drawn to.
Comrades are individuals who are not for you or your cause but are against what you are against. They will be with you as long as you are both fighting a common enemy. Comrades are like the scaffolding that is placed temporarily on a structure to stabilize it for work and construction. Comrades will leave you once the joint enemy has been defeated.
We need an array of friendships. It is not the number of friends you have but the quality of your friendships. Having one to three friends whom you can depend on and will in turn care for you will enrich and enhance your life, and theirs. However, understanding the types of friends we have is important in order to avoid hurt, confusion, shame and desperate acts to keep unhealthy relationships.
Healthy Friendships Can Improve Your Health
According to the Mayo Clinic, healthy friendship can improve your overall health:
“Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.
(Mayo Clinic, para. 3)
“It is not what we have in life but who we have in our lives that matter”
-Unknown (Picard, 2018).
To learn more about how to cultivate friendships and reap the health benefits, please visit the Mayo Clinic at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860.
By: Ama Larsen, Faculty Member, Online Bachelor of Social Work Program, Spring Arbor University
Picard, C. (2018, July 18). 25 Friendship quotes to share with your besties. Retrieved from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/relationships/g5055/friendship-quotes/?slide=18
Mayo Clinic Staff (2016, September 28). Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health. [Blog post]. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic website: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860
[Inspire Tv]. (2017, October 27). How to identify people who are really for you-3 types of people by TD Jakes 2017. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_40A5BzhHt4