Types of Friends

A couple of weeks ago I found an article called, “How Friendships Change in Adulthood” by Julie Beck, and posted via The Atlantic.

Beck discusses various aspects of friendships in adulthood, and the mediation of those friendships in social media.  Namely, she indicates there are three types of friendships: active, dormant, and commemorative.

She quotes William Rawlins, the Stocker Professor of Interpersonal Communication at Ohio University, as having said:

“The real bittersweet aspect is young adulthood begins with all this time for friendship, and friendship just having this exuberant, profound importance for figuring out who you are and what’s next, and you find at the end of young adulthood, now you don’t have time for the very people who helped you make all these decisions.”

Beck’s noting of Rawlins’ quote is important in understanding the three types of friendships.

Rawlins’ thought reminds readers that young adulthood is a hugely transitional point when childhood is behind us and the rest of our life looms ahead of us.  In that transition, in that uncertainty, we have to make the conscious effort to maintain relationships with the people who are most important to us.

Beck’s explanation about active, dormant, and commemorative friendships, helps to make a full circle in understanding where friendships go once we reach adulthood.

According to Beck, these three things are true:

  1.  Active friendships are ones we call on regularly for emotional support and keeping each other in tune to everyday lives
  2. Dormant friendships have history, you probably don’t talk to the other person everyday, but you would hands down meet up if you both had the time
  3. Commemorative friendships no longer expect communication and upkeep, but you remember them fondly, and you still consider them your friend

Social media can make any of the three of these more difficult or more simple to upkeep.

That said, differentiating between the important friends and the ones who stick around just to keep their nose in your business gets skewed with the mechanical “friendship” of social media.

Young adulthood is an interesting time.  We’re finding ourselves, our friends are finding their selves, and the rest of our lives loom ahead of us.  Let’s not get lost in the process.




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