1. The Successful Friend
While there are definitely moments in which having a friend who is doing really, really well for their age is incredibly depressing, it’s an overall net positive to have them in your life. Yes, you may occasionally have to suffer scrolling through their Facebook page and being personally offended at every announcement of an absurd personal achievement, but it does mean that you get motivated. If the most upwardly mobile thing your group of friends is engaging in consists of going to the local head shop to get a replacement bong for the one that was recently broken during a house party, chances are that you’re not feeling the pressure to do ~big things~ yourself. The more complacent people you’re surrounded by, the more complacent you’ll tend to be by default. Not everyone in your social group needs to be getting written up in the Times, but it would help if one of them had health insurance.
2. The Friend Who Disagrees With You
Perhaps in a perfect world, we would all be living in an echo-chamber of our own half-baked ideals, wherein everyone was a copy of a copy of our original opinion. Everyone would hate Aaron Sorkin, everyone would love Community, and everyone would think Pho was overrated. But the direct result of being constantly affirmed and encouraged in your ideas would likely be you becoming a smug asshole, and also possibly losing all grip on reality. If you don’t have at least one or two people who don’t think your shit is cute 100 percent of the time in your click, you may very well end up like all of those tragic celebrities who have nothing but yes-men around them and therefore think things like Scientology and meth are totally acceptable.
3. The Crazy Friend
I’m not saying you need to end up in prison, but maybe a brush with a jail cell for a night or two every so often would do you some good. There are only so many sweater sets you can wear and chamomile tea you can drink at 8:30 PM every night before you need to erase at least a little bit of your progress. You need that person who encourages you to make all the decisions you considered yourself too “old” or too “boring” for, even if it means admitting you might actually be young for a minute. (I know! You have a job and khakis and everything — and yet you’re still 25!) For all the time you spend talking about how much pressure you have on you and how many loans you haven’t paid back and how much you have to sleep in order to be a functioning human at work, you desperately need someone who occasionally runs through your life with a chainsaw, naked, screaming “WHAT TIME DOES THE ORGY START BECAUSE I’M ALREADY TRIPPING MY FACE OFF.”
4. The Friend Who Is Basically Family
There are times when we need someone who is as close as family — who is truly there through thick and thin, and doesn’t just pay lip service to caring about you — and even actual family won’t do. Even if you have a Disney Channel Movie-close family unit, there will always be things you can’t quite talk to them about. What are you going to do, sit your mother down and be like “My boyfriend won’t go down on me, but expects round-the-clock blowjobs like I’m some kind of vending machine with breasts. What do I do?” No. No one should subject their mother to that. You’re going to need someone else to go to who, through their unconditional love and judgment-free talks, can act as a therapist when you can’t afford to actually go to one. (And, it should go without saying, for whom you will always do the same.) You need someone you can trust, and that won’t happen overnight.
5. The ‘Nice’ Friend
While it’s true that the word “nice” has almost become a pejorative when describing friends, or at least the catch-all for people who have no noticeable redeeming qualities, there are people who are actually nice, and we should know some of them. They don’t need to be your best friend, but being around someone who is genuinely kind and uncritical of others, who sees the best in things, and tries to be positive at all times is guaranteed to rub off on you — or at least make you reconsider your own cold, withered heart. And though you may not always have flowing topics of conversation and common ground (especially considering how much of your leisure time activities consist of being bitchy about things), that is no reason to rule someone out when their presence in your life would be like a little ray of sunshine who loves Nicholas Sparks novels.
6. The Friend Who Throws Their Money Around
Let’s not make this more complicated than it is. It doesn’t matter where their money comes from, it doesn’t matter what they plan on doing in the future, and it doesn’t matter if you two are all that close. If you have the opportunity to be friends with someone who is constantly picking up the tab because money is not a problem and they get some sort of contact high off of acting like a bro-y version of the Monopoly Man, you seize it. You ride that free vodka train for as long as it will take you, and repay their kindness in financially realistic ways, by a) being a good friend to them and b) making them macaroni art or poetry or whatever else we paupers can come up with. It’s the thought that counts.